It's a pleasure to welcome author A. F. Stewart to Murder by 4 on one of her virtual book tour stops. Ms. Stewart has not only penned a wonderful, fast-pace fiction, but she is also a great supporter of fellow writers. Now, after publishing CHRONICLES OF THE UNDEAD, she asks,
Have you asked yourself: What is the theme of my book?A theme is the dominant, underlying idea or concept that runs through your book; the motif you want to present in your writing. You should be able to reduce it to a sentence such as, crime doesn’t pay, justice prevails, and will triumphs over adversity (they’re a bit cliché, I know, but to the point). A good writer should give some thought to the central theme of their book, but frankly I never did until recently. I figured writing was just penning a good, entertaining story, right?
As I was starting to write my latest book, CHRONICLES OF THE UNDEAD, I thought I would brush up on my writing skills, as all writers should. So, I obtained a book about writing technique (don’t ask me which one; sometimes my memory is a sieve), and eagerly began reading the wisdom imparted by the author. Buried in the pages was a discussion about theme and how to identify your theme. My first reaction was, theme, I’m supposed to have a theme? My second thought, what exactly was the theme of my book?
That got me thinking: what did I want to say with this book? Panic and confusion set in briefly, before my brain cells started working and I started asking myself questions. Did I want people to read it, enjoy it and then forget it? Or did I want to express something, some tiny part of the way I looked at the world? Can you even have the idea of theme in a genre book about vampires, isn’t that an idea for more literary works?
So I pondered the story I was writing, the characters and their motivations. I decided I could and should have a theme, that this was simply a premise, the core essence of my story idea. As I mulled over what made my book tick, I came to realise the basis of the book hinged a question: Would someone resist a dark, evil seduction? My answer in regard to a character was no, and the rest of the book evolved from the consequences of this answer.
I went back to my book, armed with this new insight, and set to work with visions of themes racing through my head. I contemplated appropriate themes, the nature of evil, resisting temptation, before settling on the consequence of choices. As I plotted, planned and penned, I kept the concept in my mind, letting the book evolve from this view; in fact, my new foundation changed a key plot point and the actions of two characters.
In my grand quest for theme, I found a unifying thread that sent me off in interesting writing directions, and, I feel, improved the book. It certainly tied together differing ideas and characters, allowing (I hope) a smooth transition from page to page.
About the Author
A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home. The youngest of a family of seven children, she has always had an overly creative mind, and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, and oil painting as a hobby.
Ms. Stewart has been writing for several years, her main focus being in the fantasy genre. She also has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories. To date she has authored and published a volume of poetry, TEARS OF POETRY, a collection of fantasy short stories, INSIDE REALMS, a small, non-fiction movie guide, THE INCOMPLETE LIST OF ACTION MOVIE CLICHES and a horror/vampire novella, CHRONICLES OF THE UNDEAD.
You can find her thoughts about writing and various excerpts from her books at her website: http://afallon.bravehost.com/