The Story Behind the Story

I’m not one of those people who knew from the moment she sprang from her mother’s womb  that she was destined to be a writer. Far from it. I didn’t carry around a pen and notepad to scribble down pearls of wisdom. I wasn’t brimming with plot ideas. I almost never heard snippets of conversation in my head.

Here’s the thing. When I was in grade 7, my mom (with the best of intentions) re-wrote one of my essays to make it less boring. I received an ‘A’ for her efforts. After that, we figured, why mess with success? Mom wrote another couple of polished pieces brimming with adult humor and wit to round out my primary school writing career in style. I sailed into high school with high marks and low self-esteem. Feeling like a total fraud, I made no attempt to write another creative word outside of technical reports for several decades.

At the risk of sounding slightly whack-a-doodle, I will tell you how I came to be a writer.

This is my story.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I was gainfully employed as a management consultant. Over time, snappy business suits, difficult clients, and rush hour traffic grew increasingly onerous. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I was certain of one thing—it wasn’t a consultant.

To compensate for the frustrations of the consulting life, I embarked on a personal development and spiritual growth blitz. My journey included experiential workshops, counseling (both delivered and received), and various healing techniques, including—are you ready?—a past life regression. Yup. I even kept a recording the hypnotherapist made of the session. To this day I haven’t listened to it. Once (make that twice, come to think of it) was quite enough of that lifetime, thank you very much. Although the regression helped me make sense of certain events in this lifetime, even brought me a sense of peace, I didn’t need—or want—to hear it again. Still don’t.

Suffice it to say, my trip down [past-life] memory lane turned me into a believer. The experience got me thinking deep thoughts. What if we are destined to repeat our mistakes over and over again until we learn the lessons we came here to learn? What if the learning could stretch over many lifetimes and several millenia? Unable to wrap my tiny brain around a scale of such magnitude, I focused on improving my own life. At the time, I had no notion I would write a book revolving around reincarnation.

If you’re still reading, you might be wondering where I’m going with this. Never fear. Reincarnation is a thread running through the Story Behind the Story. But I digress.

Soon after my past life regression, another spiritual healer called up my guides, guardians, and gatekeepers to channel an unforgettable session during which my Inner Voice made itself heard loud and clear. Truth be told, it was yelling its head off. Apparently, I wanted to write books. Not dry, boring, technical treatises, but fresh, funny romantic suspense novels. Who knew? Certainly not my conscious mind. But the idea resonated.

Okay, so how hard could it be? Thousands of authors did it every year. I could too. Always an over-achiever, I quit my day job, joined the Ottawa branch of the RWA, and enrolled in a one-week seminar on novel-writing. Two days into the course, the instructor gave us homework: Write the back cover blurb for our novel.

Eeeeeek! What novel?

When my panic finally subsided into stomach-churning anxiety, I pulled together the concept of the occult energy of an archaeological dig triggering the heroine’s flashbacks to her past life as an Olmec High Priestess. I chose Olmecs over the more familiar Aztecs, Mayans, or Zapotecs, mainly because only a smattering of information exists. I could invent to my heart’s content. The one thing archaeologists appear to agree on, however, is that the Olmecs believed they could shapeshift into the jaguar they worshipped.

My imagination kicked into high gear. Pumped, I got to work on The Jaguar Legacy.

The rest is history. I won’t bore you with gory details, but here’s the important part. As I wrote the book, it gradually occurred to me that the past life I was describing was one of my own. My spiritual healer agrees. So does my Inner Voice. Certainly, the flashbacks in the book were the parts that flowed most easily, the parts that required little or no editing, the parts that presented the author (me) with surprising revelations that resolved many plot issues.

If, indeed, The Jaguar Legacy describes one of my past lives, I was one bad-ass Olmec with accumulated karma. That means I need to figure out the lessons I’m here to learn during this lifetime. Happily, I’m an over-achiever.

In case readers are wondering, I should probably mention that the shapeshifting in The Jaguar Legacy was a figment of my imagination.

Or was it?

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