When I got the idea for Restoring Harmony, it hit me like a ton of bricks, which was pretty cool. The scariest thing about it though, was that it wasn’t like any story I’d ever written before (aspiring writers take note – novels I’d written before = unpublished, taking a chance with RH = published manuscript) and I honestly didn’t know if I could do it at times. The thing was, it reminded me of the storytelling of my two favourite writers – Nevil Shute and John Rowe Townsend. I could almost envision how they would write this story…so I decided to try myself and keep their techniques in mind. Or maybe somehow I could channel them, which sounded easier, but proved harder.
As I wrote, I let myself think big while keeping the story as personal and human as possible. Neither Shute nor Townsend write “big” characters. They write about big things happening to an average person, and that person rising up to meet the challenge. That’s how I wanted Restoring Harmony to be told. Whenever I got stuck, I would ask myself, WWND or WWJD, and usually the answer was there for me – write the unexpected. And don’t forget love.
For those of you familiar with Nevil Shute, you know he passed away a long time ago. He left a legacy of novels that are probably some of my most favourite comfort-reading. No matter how many times I read Pastoral, Trustee From the Tool Room, or A Town Like Alice, I have to give over my time entirely until I’ve finished reading the whole book. Interestingly enough, Shute is possibly most famous for his apocalyptic novel, On the Beach – the one book of his I’ve never read! How’s that for irony, since many people are calling RH “apocalyptic”? RH is most like his book Pied Piper and I freely admit to keeping it in mind while I wrote. If you’re going to steal anything, steal from the best!
John Rowe Townsend is very much alive and well in Cambridge England. When I was a teen, I picked up his book The Summer People, at the library and loved it. I shared it with my mum, who loved it too, and immediately checked out the other four books he had in print in the US. When I was in England in 1991, I discovered all of his books were available! I came home lugging over twenty Nevil Shute books for Mum (which she eventually gave me), and over twenty JRT books for myself. Good thing they didn’t weigh carry-on luggage!
Once home, I wrote to John, and we’ve been corresponding ever since. His partner, the fantastic writer, Jill Paton Walsh, calls me “John’s biggest fan” and last time I was in England, they had me over to their lovely house and gave me a tour of Cambridge. Here we are.
On the same day my ARCs arrived, I took two to the post office and mailed one to my mum and dad, and air mailed the other to John. Of course, I wanted him to read my book, but most importantly, I wanted him to see what his support and his gift of writing has done – it’s helped to shape another writer.
Here is my dedication:
This book is dedicated to my two favorite storytellers, whose books have enriched my life and the lives of countless others.
John Rowe Townsend