Published: March 14th, 2014
Adam Craig, a forty year-old stock trader in Chicago, finds his marriage teetering on the rocks and his life at a standstill. Desperate and on the edge of personal collapse, Adam takes the advice of a therapist and travels to his childhood family compound on Black Bear Lake with hopes of making peace with his past. Stepping onto the northern Wisconsin property, he relives the painful memories of the summer of 1983, his last summer at the lake.
In August 1983, a self-conscious fifteen year-old Adam carries a world of worry on his shoulders as he arrives at Black Bear Lake for a month long family reunion. Between anger and fear of mother’s declining health as she quietly battles a quickly spreading cancer and his cherished cousin’s depression over her parents’ bitter divorce, Adam is swept up in smothering familial love among the multiple generations and heartbreaking misunderstanding and betrayal. The arrival of a sensual but troublesome babysitter throws the delicate balance of his family into a tailspin. Blinded by his attraction to the newcomer, Adam fails to see his cousin's desperate cries for help and the charged electrical current running through his family's hierarchy. Crushed in the middle of it all, Adam is forced to learn that there's a fine line between self-preservation and the strength of family blood, all the while unaware of the impending tragedy that will ultimately change his life forever.
Write What You Know…Kind Of
There is a long standing saying “write what you know”, which is a wonderful school of thought and is such a great place to dig for inspiration. “What you know” can give you situations, feelings, emotions, reactions and characters. If you’re lucky, you may be able to write a whole story loosely based on an actual event in your life with all the people and their real emotions involved. That would be a dream. That would be a GIFT. Because the reality is that you may get a small nugget from real life and be able to string that together with another nugget and come up with a solid plot or a few colorful characters.
Writing Black Bear Lake, I came the closest to capturing that gift. The explosion was a real event that I experienced and the compound is an area where I spend the bulk of my summers. And our family spends that time with a multitude of cousins, so the element of family bond came easily for me. But this is unusual. I’ve never experienced this writing any of my past pieces. Frankly, I’m not sure I have more than a couple of beginning to end situations in my life that would warrant a full book.
I’m writing a new book at the moment and it definitely falls under the “write what you know…kind of” category. The characters are coming completely out of thin air, some of the locations are completely fictional and the plot is a true figment of my imagination. However, what I know…what I CAN pull from real life…are feelings. This is, I believe, the most powerful thing you can “know”. You know the feeling of having your heart broken. You know the feeling of disappointing someone you love. You know the feeling of being the third wheel, of not fitting in, of being terrified of what others think, of wishing you could change that one thing about yourself that makes you insecure.
And the beautiful thing is that you know those feelings, I know those feelings, an accountant knows those feelings as well as a movie star knows those feelings. “What you know” is what we all know and so a writer can come up with the most fantastical world, as in Harry Potter, or the most hopeless situation, as in Hunger Games, but what you will find at the heart of all of these stories are feelings that we can all, everyone on Earth, relate to. It unites us all because we “know” the same thing.
To me, that’s the magic of writing.
So, write what you know…write what we ALL know.
Leslie Liautaud is the author of Midnight Waltzes (2006), He Is Us (2008), The Wreck (2009), SALIGIA (2011), The Mansion (2012) and Summer Nights and Dreams (2012). She is also the author of the coming-of-age novel, Black Bear Lake (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014).
Leslie is originally from Kansas City, MO where she worked in the performing arts. Currently, she divides her time between between Key Largo, FL and Champaign, IL with her husband, three teenage children and three rambunctious dogs.