It’s a funny thing, this love of writing. For me, it’s a passion that involves an unquenchable thirst for learning coupled with a fascination for the intricacies of expression: a burning desire to find the exact right word. This devotion is also married to the need to explore important issues, but present them in an accessible way that will appeal to a broad audience: To tell entertaining stories rooted in complex, controversial and important issues that affect—and will for some time continue to affect—millions of lives.
Due to a number of circumstances—many beyond my control—I came to embrace this love rather late in life. Oh, now reading, that’s been a life-long affair. The mere thought of not having a good book as my final companion of the day always sends me into a panic. To curl up under the covers with a good story, now that’s living. My mother started it all. No doubt in trying to divert her unruly brood, she would herd her young daughter (me) and my two older (rowdy) brothers to local libraries. I remember sitting spellbound, listening to some dreamy-eyed volunteer read wonderful stories that transported her juvenile audience to other worlds.
Later, reading brought a much-needed modicum of comfort—some sense of stability—to what could only be described as an unconventional upbringing. We moved: we moved a lot. Attending thirteen different schools in the course of my primary education, along with other odd and influential circumstances, did little to encourage the pursuit of academic excellence. A flame of interest in writing inspired by an English teacher in high school briefly burned bright, but the next move damped down the fire. Yet always, always reading was the rock.
My tastes in fiction run widely these days and—while lovely language is always a pleasure—my predilection is for a good, solid story. Authors who do both give a special joy. Lyrical prose that weaves itself around stories of substance such as Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and John le Carré’s The Constant Gardener… pure heaven. Often now I will read two or even three books at a time; usually a nonfiction work that shines light on a subject of interest, and a work of fiction for pure entertainment that takes me to another place, another time. When a single work accomplishes both, that’s the best of all.
In my work, I aspire to at least spark the readers’ curiosity and—more ambitiously—their desire to learn more about what’s happening around us in the world. Without seeming to take sides, or to lecture or sermonize, to present differing points of view on complex issues that might tempt the reader to look at a subject in a different way: to persuade them to set aside their point of view to take a fresh clear look at the point. And—in the interest of adhering to my personal philosophy on navigating the rocky road of life—provide some darn fun along the way.
Admittedly, it’s not all fun. I’ve had my share of bleak moments. Following the tragic events of September 11th, I kept asking myself: Would this have happened if we had paid more attention? Cared more about what was happening in the rest of the world? And maybe troubled ourselves to call our government to account for its actions on the global stage? These hard questions took me on a journey—both physical and spiritual—to previously unexplored territory. In Egypt I saw and heard first hand how the actions and policies of my country’s government had affected the lives of millions—sometimes to their benefit, often not. This knowledge stoked the fire of my need to know more. And then, upon returning from several months abroad, I experienced a life-threatening case of profound anemia. During the year that it took to diagnose the cause and begin the healing process Grains of Truth was born—a seedling rising from the ashes of the firestorm. My heartfelt wish is that this deep, abiding love for storytelling will someday result in a forest of stories of substance.
Lydia Crichton is the author of Grains of Truth (Barringer Publishing/May 2013), a thriller set in Egypt and the first novel in her Julia Grant Series. Grains of Truth follows rigid pacifist Julia Grant, who is manipulated by U.S. Intelligence to take part in a covert mission in Egypt. The story explores timely social and political issues while spinning a character-driven page turner that blends romance, suspense, and espionage in one woman’s quest for justice, love, peace, and redemption.