Today, I am so pleased to have the very talented Laurel Osterkamp here to talk about movies and her new novel, Starring in the Movie of My Life. Please stop by tomorrow for my review of the book and a giveaway! Welcome, Laurel!
Sometimes when I get a rare afternoon to myself I’ll go see a movie. I like going by myself. Sitting in a darkened theater, taking a vacation from my own life while getting lost in someone else’s; nothing is better. My favorite movies are stories about redemption. I love when a character begins at the point of no return, and somehow emotionally travels to a place better than he or she had ever imagined.
You see, characters in movies have an advantage over us real people because their stories have a clear point. More than once I’ve found myself wishing that the senselessness of reality could be translated into a movie plot. It would give random events a purpose.
What would be even better is if we could hire screenwriters for our own lives. So many times I’ve wished to be clever and glib in moments of conflict, or proud, brave and noble when I feel I’m being tested. But the words fail me.
If I can’t exercise these powers in real life, I at least wanted to have that power as an author, and writing Starring in the Movie of My Life was my stab at it.
I created two characters, Melody and Samantha, who live ordinary lives but are also in desperate need of redemption. Samantha is generous and loving, and Melody is strong and young. So it was a challenge to give each of them a past where they did something bad enough that they needed to be redeemed. Yet, haven’t we all made mistakes we wish we could take back?
The only other tie Melody and Samantha share is their love for the same man, Nathan Linden, and their mutual desire to be saved by him. Parts take place at fictional Shannon High, where Nathan is a teacher and Melody is a student. Both characters are entirely made up, but the halls of the school are the same as Columbia Heights, where I have taught for the last eleven years.
In order to craft something genuine, parts of my own life were inevitably going to sneak in. Without consciously deciding to, I focused on motherhood. I also began to recognize some of my students in Melody: the ones who come from terrible situations and rise above, the ones whose strength inspires me. Issues like love and marriage and the choices we make are central to the story as well. In the years that I wrote Starring in the Movie of My Life I got married, had kids, and settled into my career as a high school teacher. This novel is as much about me as it is about anything, but only in a very indirect way.
Ultimately, the story belongs to Samantha and Melody. It is about two women who want to be saved by the same man, so they must figure out how to save themselves. That’s where the redemption part comes in.
Oh yeah; Starring in the Movie of My Life is also about movies.