I want to welcome Steve O'Brien to Books R Us. Steve is the author of Elijah’s Coin. Thanks for stopping by.
By Steve O'Brien
Quotations have always been a source of inspiration for me.
Not only can they be an attitude adjuster, but they actually help me in the writing process. I have found nothing better for getting inside the mind of a character than to imagine them living out a quotation. Within a quote is not just an idea or a statement, it is a personality, a way of thinking. I’m constantly looking for and collecting quotes. When developing a character, I will assign a quote or two and build from that foundation.
Even misunderstandings can create inspiring quotes. One of my favorites comes from the movie Tucker about a man who tried to build a better automobile and had to fight the Big 3 automakers and the government to get his business off the ground.
Tucker was a passionate entrepreneur and dreamer. At one point the company’s chief financial officer is asked how he got involved with Tucker’s company. He said that his mother warned him not to get too close to people because you’ll catch their dreams. The CFO caught Tucker’s dream and became compelled to help build the company.
At the end of the movie, the CFO learns that he misheard his mother. She had said, “don’t get too close to people, you’ll catch their germs.”
In Elijah’s Coin I have a concept that came from a car ride with my father. I was about eight or nine years old, and as the typical kid of that age, I was bored and staring out the side window of the car. My dad asked me what I was looking at and true to form, I replied “nothing.”
We were moving at a high rate of speed and I was watching a picket fence go by. My dad noticed and said “what do you see between the fence posts?” I had no idea what he was talking about. I watched the fence posts fly by to the point where I couldn’t see the posts. It was like a sideways movie.
What was between the fence posts?
His answer was “life.”
To this day I don’t know if he was just messing with me or if he was trying to teach me something, but I never forgot the exchange. I’ll never know the real answer since he died several years ago.
I took that concept and built it into Elijah’s Coin. Elijah King, the wise mentor tells Tom, the main character, “what you see between the fence posts is life.”
Fence posts are the people you meet in your lifetime--the relationships you have. Knowing people, however, does not make a life. What makes a life are the experiences with those people. The experiences are what exists between the fence posts.
Some people have thick rolodexes of contacts or thousands of “friends” on social network sites. Such does not make a life. Life is not the size or significance of the contacts, it is the person’s interaction with them.
Fewer fence posts firmly planted will create a stronger fence. Thousands of fence posts poorly tended in shallow holes will cause the fence to fall over in the slightest breeze. How well are you maintaining your fence posts?
Next time you watch a picket fence go by, remember, life is what’s between the fence posts.
Steve O’Brien is a lawyer and fiction writer. His first book Elijah’s Coin received nine literary awards. Bullet Work, his second novel, will be released in Spring 2011.