Although she has traveled the world from Japan to Tunisia, Alison has never strayed far from her Midwestern roots. She and her husband are empty-nesters living in Minnesota, and their daughter is a graduate student in Chicago. And now, here's Alison's post:
Discovering Your Theme
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the issue of theme. Writing-related articles and blogs on the subject seem to pop up wherever I look. Isn’t that always the way when you’ve got a topic simmering in your brain? Because I write in multiple genres, I’ve been wondering how my stories connect—why I write what I write.
A writer’s theme is different from her subject matter or her author brand. Theme is not whether you write about highlanders or cowboys, dukes or detectives. My first two published books are western historical romances set in Missouri just after the end of the Civil War. That tells you something about the setting and subject matter but nothing about the theme. It also might brand me as an author if I let it (although brand encompasses an author’s style and voice as well). Because my newest manuscript and current WIP are both snappy contemporaries I wanted to figure out what they have in common with my historicals.
|Print and e-book from |
The Wild Rose Press
|Print and e-book from|
The Wild Rose Press
My first contemporary, UNWRITTEN RULES, involves an ex-FBI agent who owns her own all-female bodyguard agency and signs on to protect a former CIA agent-turned-bestselling-author on a book tour. In addition to challenges created by the hero and the villain, she is dealing with unresolved issues related to the recent deaths of her parents in a terrorist attack (sounds like heavy stuff, but actually this is the lightest and funniest book of the three).
So what could these stories have in common? What made me write them the way I did? It didn’t take long to figure out that I write about the importance of family—cherishing the family you have or creating a new one if necessary. My books always include the main characters’ family members as prominent secondary characters. In HARVEST OF DREAMS, it’s the heroine’s mother. As the mother of a grown daughter, I loved writing that character. A MAN LIKE THAT was all about the hero’s family, their trials and tribulations and a longstanding feud. In UNWRITTEN RULES, I had a fabulous time writing the hero’s feisty grandmother.
For me, the theme of family is much more than a coincidence or plot device. It is a universal, overriding influence in my writing. It represents my most important core value and, therefore, will be present in every story I write whether I think about it or not. That’s rather comforting. There are so many aspects to consider and decisions to make when you’re writing it’s a relief not to have to actively think about your theme.
To learn more about me and my books, I invite you to visit me at http://www.alisonhenderson.com/ The buy link for my books is http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=871
Consider your favorite books. Can you pick out common themes that resonate with you?