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I’m often asked how I come up with my story ideas. Sometimes they just pop into my head. I’ve written all over church bulletins, jumped out of the shower more than once to write down an idea and turned meeting handouts into storyboards.
“The Moment Keeper” was different. The idea came to me quietly, tip-toeing into my mind like someone who wants my help but is afraid to ask. And it waited patiently, nudging me now and again until I was ready to give it my full attention.
I knew that structuring The Moment Keeper in the way I wanted and keeping the narrative moving wouldn’t be easy. How do I write parallel narratives of two people -- one dead and the other alive? One in the past tense and the other in the present? And, how do I bring these two narratives together so that the separate narratives become one?
I’ve always been fascinated by how the moments in our lives weave together to tell our life stories.Small moments. Big moments. Quiet moments. Moments that if we aren’t paying close attention, slip by without our realizing their significance until much later.
And I’ve also been fascinated by the choices we make and how those choices lead us down a particular path toward an outcome we can’t possibly foresee.
You turn right instead of left and total your car when a deer darts out in front of you.
You leave to run errands thirty minutes later than you had planned because you decide to give the dog a bath. And because you left later, you ended up behind a truck on the highway with a box spring in its bed. And because the truck driver decided he didn’t need to tie down the box spring, it flew off the truck and into your windshield, killing you.
You’re pregnant and you’re scared. You think about taking your life. And…
What you decide determines the moment, and it’s those moments that connect us to one another often in ways we can’t possibly know ahead of time.
In The Moment Keeper, I wanted to explore these themes by telling the story of two babies who lead very different lives but ultimately end up facing the same decision.
First there is Sarah: raised by her loving grandmother, but neglected by her own father who views her as the instrument of her mother’s death. She leads a hard life, searching to belong and to be loved.
Then there is Olivia, surrounded by love, nurtured and adored by her parents, a golden child with a golden future.
I tell the story through Sarah’s eyes. She is Olivia’s moment keeper.
All I can do, all I have ever been able to do, is watch and record the moments of her life as they unfold. I’m her moment keeper. It’s my job to record her life story, to capture and hold every moment she ever lived so that when she dies I’m able to play them back for her, one after another.
At the end of the book, I wanted to surprise the reader by bringing these two narrative threads together in an unexpected way. I wanted to show that each of us is a piece of the puzzle and that it’s only when all of the individual pieces come together to form the whole that we see the larger picture.
And, it might surprise you that the puzzle piece you’re interlocked with is the very piece you thought was missing.