Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Musings: November 2 2014

Today is the first Sunday of November, November 2nd, and for Canadians and others we'll be celebrating/honouring Remembrance Day on November 11th. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It is something very important for my family.

So, how does this relate to this week's question?

How does memory, memories, play a role for your characters?

I guess on one level all the characters I’m narrating have a past, remembrance of which may bring regret at pleasures lost, relief at escaping pain left behind, fear of repeating the mistakes of the past etc - let’s face it things I experience in my own life. Families and communities will have shared memories (and sometimes secrets) that may span generations and connect to major events like WW1. In one of my stories the modern day heroine discovers a war-time memoir written by a great aunt she never knew she had. Her emotional reaction to this woman’s story causes her to re-examine her own life and her perspective changes. We can’t change the events of our past, but we can change the way we hold them in our memory - the way we think about them. That is what a writer is doing when a character somehow redeems the difficult memories, though I acknowledge that may not always be possible (Sophie’s Choice, for example).

My characters are human (or the equivalent) and therefore have pasts and memories.  Like those of people in our own real world, they are a mixture of good and bad, great joys and sometimes horrific loss.  Given that the novels are set either during or only a few years following a brutal, decades-long war, many memories are dark indeed.  Varn, the male protagonist in the Star Commandos series, is haunted by his recollections of the events surrounding his expulsion from the Arcturian Empire and all he valued and loved.  Islaen, the female protagonist, began her military career at the age of sixteen.  She has obviously experienced violence and loss but also has the bedrock memories of a happy, close family living on a peaceful agrarian world.  Jack Dundee (the series and STAND AT CORNITH) recalls his deceased wife with great love but has gone on to live a full, fulfilling, and very valuable life.  So it goes with all the individuals who play significant roles in the books.  How could it be otherwise?

A memory is a key factor in the love relationship in Broken Bonds, Brad, the main character, is haunted by the memory of the death of his lover twenty years before the novel begins. Harry had asked Brad to make a commitment, and Brad, who was ambitious, put him off because the Guard would have disapproved of their relationship. Harry was killed in a skirmish, and Brad felt him die. After that, Brad made a vow never to turn away from love, however difficult the choices involved. This is the key to his willingness to become involved with Ardaval even though the Aleyni, of whom Ardaval is one, are at odds with the Federation.

In my novel Sunday's Child, a traditional historical novel set in the Regency era, the heroine, Georgianne never wants to marry a 'military man' because her father and brothers died in the war against Napoleon.

The hero, Major Tarrant, profoundly affected by the death of his fiancé in childbirth - the result of French soldiers' brutality - never wants to have a child.


I've always been intrigued by memory loss. What if you wake up one morning and have no recollection of who you are? How do you go about finding those missing pieces again? What if someone made you forget to keep a horrifying event secret? These are some questions that came up while writing my second Princess of Valendria novel, Charmed Memories.

Bri, my heroine, has no memories of her past. When her true identity comes in to question, she and Prince Trevor set off for a distant kingdom in hopes of jarring her memories loose. When her memories come flooding back she realizes that sometimes it might be better not knowing the truth of the past.

DAWN KNOX, author

In 'Daffodil and the Thin Place', the heroine, Daffodil, travels back to the Victorian times where she makes some good friends. When she returns to the present day, memories of her friends are very fresh although she knows she'll never see them again because they would have died before she'd been born. Her desire to know about the lives of her friends after she left them, results in Daffodil making several strange discoveries.


Memory is an unreliable narrator which is what makes it interesting. Take ten people who witness some event and each will have a different recollection.

Memory is heavily influenced by perception which is in turn dictated by our individual attitudes and experiences. The possibilities for a writer to play with memories are endless.

Memories - The basis of some stories. Memories spur on ideas. Ideas stick in my mind and won't let go. The imagination takes over and develops a plot.
Welcome to my world.

Life experiences are a large part of what makes us who we are.  A character's memory of these experiences is vital to give the reader insight as to why they make certain decisions. For example: if your character remembers a traumatic experience as a child where they lose a parent or the parent leaves them, it makes it easier to understand why they might have abandonment issues. In my opinion, they are vital to character development.  

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

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