Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Guest blog with S. Dionne Moore - Day One

In my research for Promise of Tomorrow, I ran across several conflicting facts. Such as the pile of debris that gathered in front of the stone bridge west of Johnstown after the devastating flood. Some references say it covered 60 acres, some 30, I’ve also heard 20. But only for those who need such details in their story is this a problem. Many times when I find research facts conflict with one another, I simply drive the story in a direction that won’t require that fact (opinion?) be used. Was there a stone bridge at all? Yes. Was there debris? Most definitely. And caught in the debris was a hodge-podge of houses, animals, wire. . .and humans. This is a known, proven fact. Tragically, the pile of debris caught on fire and those who survived the horror of the flood were subjected to listening to the anguished cries and screams of the humans caught in that nightmare. For me, this is a much more poignant and terrible fact than the question of how many acres did the debris cover. So, in story, I didn't sweat details that conflicted from resource to resource, sticking, instead to using the bits of fact that are established from one resource to another.

What I found most difficult to conquer in writing this story was the balance between romance and reality. There are several terrible, gruesome stories that result from the flood of Johnstown, but how much to use in my story? How do you balance a readers desire to escape while maintaining the level of reality needed to be true to the tragedy's devastation and those who survived? This is, afterall, a romance.

I had to strike a balance.

So I mention details of the destruction that are tragic and gruesome, but I don't dwell there. I chose, rather, to expand on my characters' reactions to the flood. How they desired to help those who had survived, even as they grieved for all they had personally lost, whether family or friends, houses or possessions. I also tried to show how tragedy causes introspection. Both Alaina and Jack use the time to search their hearts and souls. For me, that was the crux of the book--how tragedy strips away all the frivolous things and brings us face to face with our moral fragility, causing us to take a good hard look at what resides in our heart.

Question of the Day: I recently watched a PBS documentary about the Johnstown Flood, and I was stunned at the power and destruction of that water. Eye-opening and heart-rending.
So, question is: What's your favorite PBS show? The documentaries? Concerts? British Comedies?
For me, it's Masterpiece Mystery. Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Inspector Lewis, Midsomer Murders...I love them all.


  1. Wow, Sandra! There's a lot of great information in this post. I think that you're right in that what is truly important in the story is getting the facts about what it felt like to be there, not necessarily sharing cold, hard numbers. But it's definitely good to have done the research! :)

    As far as which PBS show is my favorite, last spring I watched some of the Masterpiece classic season at college with a few of my friends, and I just loved the Jane Austen movies! I wasn't actually that big on Persuasion, but I adored Northanger Abbey! So, so good! And the three part version of Emma was enjoyable, too. :)



  2. I am a fan of Masterpiece Classics and the Mysteries. Miss Marple and Poirot are special favorites for me.

  3. Amber, I became "S. Dionne Moore" when the editor for my first cozy told me she had just contracted another Sandra. To avoid confusion, I chose to use my first initial and my middle name. By the time my historical romances were contracted, my Website and marketing were already geared toward that pseudonym, so I felt little choice but to use it.

    Merry, have you tried the BBC productions of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot? they are wonderful! Here's a link to the one starring June Whitfield. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bertrams-Hotel-Whitfield-Dramatisation-Collection/dp/056338882X

    Thanks for visiting, ladies!

  4. I don't watch a lot on PBS but I do love the July 4 and Christmas specials.