What do you think of first when you hear, Jurassic Park? Dinosaurs? Blockbuster? Spielberg? Crichton?
Most likely not, Ekeland, or Gleick. But Michael Crichton credits them in the acknowledgements of his novel, and Jeff Goldblum conferred with both in preparation for his role as resident "chaotician" in the film. Ekeland's Mathematics and the Unexpected, and Gleick's Chaos: A New Kind of Science, influenced Crichton so deeply that it may in fact be argued that it was chaos and fractals, which comprise the foundation of the iconic franchise. There's a reason those iterations--a progression known as a Dragon Curve--adorn the start of each section of the novel.
But it might also be safe to say that a purely scientific tome might not have had the teeth or achieved a fractal--err, fraction--of the popular acclaim as did the dino version.
Sometimes--maybe most times--even a story with a strong message and theme needs, well, a good story, a hook, and some good 'ol fun. And the reverse is most certainly true: no amount of bells and whistles can save a story if the heartbeat of the tale fails to ring true, or, worse yet, there is no heartbeat at all.
Around a decade ago I was leaving a Harry Potter movie with my eldest child, David, and savoring the wonder and awe Rowling's stories (and subsequent films) imbued in children and adults alike. Soon thereafter an idea fell to me for a fantasy tale, brimming with notions of magic, immortality, and ancient feuds. I wrote a bit here, a bit there, then it would sit, and for a year or so it just never really took hold. It was around that time my family attended a child's birthday party and a quiet incident transpired which embodied the bond and protection David had already demonstrated with his little sister, Rachel. Some of you know the story (retold in this guest post), but it was then and there that the embers for my novel reignited. The heartbeat of my tale. The impetus for the David Rose series, which in its progression through four books will see a steady surge in the fantastical, dark and magical elements. Even some heavy biblical turns.
But no matter how deep the mystery, how ancient the conflict, no matter the incredible powers David discovers and must summon from lives and worlds past, it becomes more paramount each step of the way that he remain true to who he really is...no matter how many different hims there seem to be. Just as I learned I must remain true to the heartbeat of my story. It has been--and surely will be--a blast conjuring worlds and discovering them right along with my characters (for we must in the end follow their lead, not the other way around). But just as each of them ultimately needs that touchstone upon which to stay anchored, so too as a writer do I. That heartbeat, that thing in this world which means the world to me; my compass as my characters and I go gallivanting across time and space.
I hope you'll join us. The Awakening of David Rose launches here on April 25.
(image from Slantmagazine.com)