This 23,000+ word story evolved from a writing challenge. What was planned as a short story to be called The Campfire based on a picture that was the runner-up to Union Station in one of my PICK- A-PICTURE-GET-A-STORY-WRITTEN contests.
This photograph shows two teenage boys and a girl sitting in front of a campfire. I wondered who the girl was… and was she and the boy next to her a couple? Did the other boy have any feelings about what was going on? Thinking about that—the rush of emotions at that age—and knowing how important a role music can play, in the story I wove mention of 17 songs popular back in 1974/75 (half the story takes place then and half in the present). That helped a great deal in bringing back my own memories of what that young love felt like; the hope and dream of it… the anticipation.
As I spun off from that initial thought, the story became about Robert Sterling (the name I gave the boy closest to the girl in the campfire picture, but who now, in the story, is approaching 60). How his life unfolded, what happened to him, and what he sees through an old camera his deceased (institutionalized) mother had left him. The story takes him back to his hometown… to a place, events, people and memories he had pushed from his mind 40 years ago. He faces things he didn’t want to remember what happened to him, to his friend… and to her, his first love.
I can’t speak for other writers, but when I’m writing and hooked into the story and know deep inside it’s good, I get tingles up my neck. I felt that when writing this story and now as I write this. I think many of my readers were touched the same way. I’ve been told, “It’s like a classic Twilight Zone love story episode.” Scan my readers feedback/comments page if you’re interested to see what others thought about the story. Here’s a a few comments:
“A story, once read, you will never forget…” –from an Amazon review
“As a reader, there is no better experience than to forget you are reading and just become immersed in the story. This book did that…” –from an Amazon review
“I was plowing through a really bad book and finally gave up. I loaded this book that I had downloaded a little while back and thank you Dennis Lowery for saving me from the reading blues! Excellent job! Loved the work! It was a really great read. I’m still thinking about it. And the end with the SPOILER REMOVED really hit home with the perspective of what one’s feelings, experiences, and sometimes tragedies might be to others.” –Mike M. Jensen
“I’m halfway through, Dennis. It’s wonderful. Hard to put it down. Great read!” [when she finished] “Best I’ve read in a long time. I finished it late last night and even dreamt about it. I woke this morning and it’s still with me… I cannot tell you how deeply this story affected me. I was drawn in from the very first song lyrics. I found myself singing each familiar tune along in my head, and as it always does, allowing the music to work as a time machine. In so many ways, I related to this tale. I loved how you wove now and then together through wakening and dreaming happenings. I loved the premise of light and dark, and the lens we all use to focus on what matters most to us….love, understanding, even forgiveness reaching back to heal the misunderstandings of the past.” –Bobbie T.
The picture you see is the progression of how the story went from what was planned as The Campfire, at about 3,000 to 4,000 words, to Through a Lens of Dark & Light, a novella.