Monday, April 29, 2013


Since I moved to Santa Fe—a new city and geographic location for me, I’ve been doing a lot of deep thinking about belonging, finding one’s place, creating family from strangers. I realized that belonging was a theme running through many of my novels. 

A lot of authors will create wildly drawn characters, outcasts, who don’t fit in as vehicles for playing out their belonging theme. In my novels, those who feel on the fringe are not marginalized people. They are outcasts within mainstream society (though sometimes that society is a created world with its own set of social mores—re: The Bowdancer Saga). Some characters just find they don’t quite fit in among their own families or work environments (Sugar Magnolia, The Premier, the Ruins trilogy).

Jan-nell in Verses and Refrain of The Lost Song trilogy struggles daily with her own intelligence that sets her apart. She longs for something more than the family she has found. She wants to feel (as one definition put it) “being rightly placed,” not only with her purpose but also within a community that accepts her for all that she is and what she can contribute. But mostly she seeks connection with the one person who understands her isolation and who warmly draws her in. In her pain of feeling outcast, she fails to see how broadly her ties of spiritual kinship have taken her.

Kate Ferguson in the Ruins trilogy doesn’t fit into her own concept of belonging. That struggle continues from Discovery through Artifacts and into the last book, Legacy, that I’m currently writing. How do you fit in when you have a paranormal gift that sets you apart? It’s a secret she has carried most of her life and continues to haunt her through three books. She’s also set apart because she’s a woman involved with a patriarchal community. That feeling of not belonging affects all of her relationships and now threatens her own son’s future and her own happiness.

In Sugar Magnolia, it isn’t so much Shivaun Corbin’s feelings of not belonging, though they are there, but those of other characters in the strange household of rocker Daniel Madux. Secrets, again, bar the entry into full acceptance into a community or a family.

So how does one really find belonging? I’m still working on that in my own life and in my books. Look for more in the future.

Janie Franz
Author of The Lost Song Trilogy, a part of The Bowdancer Saga

Verses, Book 1 of The Lost Song Trilogy, Blurb
Eleven summers after Jan-nell the bowdancer left her daughter Mira-nell with the sisterhood of hunters on the mountain and came to live with Khrin to raise their son, Bearin, she is called by the sisterhood to find their origins.
The first clue is a bit of song Jan-nell learns at the deathbed of the oldest woman in the sisterhood’s village. Jan-nell and her companions seek the origins of the mysterious women on the mountain through the verses of the song.
Master hunter Bekar and master trackfinder Chandro accompany Jan-nell and Bearin on a quest for the lost song that takes them from their local inn out across the landscape of their world as they meet bee spinners and kings and risk their lives to achieve their goal..

Refrain, Book 2 of The Lost Song Trilogy,  Blurb
As Jan-nell, her son Bearin, the sensuous hunter Bekar, and trackfinder Chandro continue their quest for the lost song, they make alliances with the virile dark-skinned sword dancers, who serve as bodyguards to a king, and the exotic, handsome beast trainers of the desert. Jan-nell is beset with jealousies, new sexual stirrings, deepening spiritual practices, and a growing bond with one of her companions.


Leona~Author said...

Hi Janie, I enjoyed your article. That sense of belonging is so important to our happiness. I think it's harder now to make friend in new neighborhood because people lead such busy lives.

A lot of authors have their character's parents die from auto accidents or other things, which keeps them from belonging to a family group.

I'm sure you're correct that these feelings do show up in our writing. Your books sound very interesting.

Janie Franz said...

Thanks for your comments, Leona. I think as writers we use what we know. And this is a theme that seems to be running through my on life.

Wendy said...

It's so true, Janie, secrets can hold us back from truly belonging. ALso some people just can't accept how much they do belong. Others think they belong in places where they really don't. Humans are a funny lot. It's a good topic to explore Janie and it sounds as if you've done this very well. Congratulations on your trilogy.