The Awakening required research in a couple of new areas: first, New York City. Fortunately, I’d been there recently. Second, I had to research agoraphobia, which is usually defined as “fear of open spaces.” But a person truly suffering from agoraphobia can experience panic in any unfamiliar place, and over time, his or her world grows smaller and smaller. I read books on the disorder, but it wasn’t until I talked to Patsy Clairmont, who used to suffer from agoraphobia, that I got a real handle on the personality traits Aurora would need. I got more useable information in a ten-minute talk with Patsy than I did through reading a couple of books.
I also had a character who was an economist, so I had to do a bit of research on that. Fortunately, a New York Times article on the guy who originated “freakonomics” fit that bill and gave me just what I needed.
I had to research New York apartments. I found a lovely book with original floor plans from New York apartment buildings, and placed Aurora and friends in the exact plans of an old Manhattan building. That was fun.
I also had to think about the Christian content. Even though I intended The Awakening to be a parable–an earthly story with a heavenly meaning–I knew some readers would do well to get through the story, let alone dig for the deeper meaning. (Parables are like onions–and some folks only want to pull off the peel.) So I made one character, the next door neighbor, a Christian. It’s a little overt Christian content, but not too much. The real spiritual meaning lies beneath the surface . . . by design.
Tomorrow: the writing