Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Pam Ripling. Not only does she write mysteries (a favorite genre of mine) but she is also a photographer. If you've ever spent more than 5 seconds on this blog, then you will know that Pam and I are a great match: books and a camera, what more could you want? Here's a bit about Pam's latest book:
From Amazon: "Amy Winslow isn't looking for a mystery; she doesn't even like secrets. In fact, secrets have nearly destroyed her life. So, when a terrible accident forces her to take control of her brother's mysterious California lighthouse, Amy finds herself immersed in its shocking past and uncertain future. Enchanted by the mystery, she refuses to rest until she finds out who died in the aging white beacon, and why. Case McKenna hasn't quite reconciled his own painful history when he sails his crippled boat into Newburg Harbor, intending to stay only long enough to make repairs. His plans change when he becomes entangled with a local couple intent on restoring a long-shuttered lighthouse. Despite an overwhelming urge to flee, Case follows intrigue and passion, as he, too, finds himself drawn in by Point Surrender."
And, now, let's hear from Pam (click on the photos for a larger view):
Wait. Shouldn’t that read, “A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words”? Perhaps, if you are in the advertising business. One carefully composed photograph, painting or sketch can certainly convey an entire idea, or story, to its viewer. How many pages of text would it take to adequately describe a picture of, say, an English garden, its many varieties of colorful flowers and shrubs? I guess that would depend on the level of detail, and the talent of the author.
Picture books might be the perfect marriage of these two worlds. But at some point, we graduate to books without pictures, and start relying upon our own imaginations and the author’s words to create that picture perfect story image. While a photo is a fixed image, capturing its subject in one exacting form, a writer can alter and enhance the picture she creates simply by adding or changing her descriptive words.
What place, then, do photographs have in a writer’s world? First of all, I consider two kinds of pictures: those you take with a camera, and those you create in your mind. Both have an effect on your creativity. Here’s an example. On the wall above my desk, I have pinned a large color photograph of Heceta Head Lighthouse (Oregon). It’s an exquisite view of the lantern, the tower, the bluff and the ocean. And while it might, indeed, be worth a thousand words, those thousand words could be mine as I write my next romantic mystery. That one photo can inspire me to write a whole novel, filled with thousands of images that I create to make my story work.
I happen to love photography. I almost never leave the house without a camera of some kind. There is something magical about capturing that sublime moment, that stop-action shot, that perfect sunset. It’s no coincidence that the word composition has to do with both artistic and literary endeavors. Being a writer means always seeing, composing, creating, being aware of one’s surroundings and storing all those images for later use. Sometimes with a camera, sometimes with memories. Consider this passage, from Point Surrender. Hero Case McKenna is in his sailboat, the Dream, traveling south along the northern California coast:
He must have dozed. For when he next opened his eyes, they fixed upon a steep, craggy cliff with the setting sun at his back. He didn't move at first, so complete was his shock and confusion. The boat's proximity to the coast alarmed him, yet still Case remained frozen to the spot. The water no longer looked like glass. It churned and roiled around him, pushing the Dream closer to the huge jutting rocks at the base of the cliff.
Suddenly propelled into action, Case quickly made his way to the helm and started the engine. He had to get the sailboat away from the rocks and back out to sea. Struggling and sputtering, the motor whirled into life. Case grabbed the wheel, turning the Dream about and motoring away from the dangerous shoreline. Once he was several yards away, he turned to look back at the treacherous cliffs. His breath caught in his chest. There, about halfway to the top of the cliff, stood a blindingly white lighthouse perched on an outcropping below the bluff. Case's eyes widened in awe.
"How the hell did I get here?" he muttered, staring hard at the lighthouse.
Because I have been sailing, and because I have seen this lighthouse, I was able to write this scene, creating just one of a thousand “pictures” found in Point Surrender.
What do you see in the second photograph? Do you see a stunning view of the southern California coastline? Do you see a bit of the brass portion of the lighthouse’s Fresnel lens? Or do you see the peeling paint, the missing windowpane?
Do you see a story waiting to be told?
Thank you so much for stopping by, Pam. Learning about the connection between composing a photograph and composing a story was fascinating. I, too, rarely leave home without my camera.