From Storytelling to Writing a Novel: Origins of Aggie Boyle
Welcome to the Aggie Boyle Blog! My name is David Fine and I am a first time author. As this is my first post, I wanted you to get to know me a little better by giving you some background on my journey to becoming an author and how Aggie Boyle came to life in the pages of my novel.
It amazes me everyday that I have written a novel. Growing up, I didn't like reading books unless I had to for school. I was more interested in reading non-fiction, especially about sports like baseball and football. I would memorize statistics of the players and always wanted to know more about them. This wasn’t just for pro sports, but college too. I had learned so much about old time players, that when I first met my wife’s grandfather, he was shocked that I knew so much about players no one my age would know. Who knew that the knowledge I learned from reading would help me break the barriers between ages!
Another passion of mine was history. I loved reading about different time periods and the events that occurred. I was especially infatuated with World War II. I would try to find any book to read so I could learn about different battles and strategies.
Even though I liked reading non-fiction books, there was something else I enjoyed doing as a kid; storytelling. I loved making up my own stories based on pictures I drew. The stories were about magical beings, different types of aliens, and other types of science fiction. Surprisingly, I never wrote any of them down.
Fast forward to adulthood, more specifically parenthood. I found myself remembering those childhood stories. When my daughter was born, my wife immediately started reading books to her. Unlike myself, my wife loved to read and wanted to instill this in our daughter early on. This brought back memories of the only book my mother read to me when I was a child. "The three little kittens, they lost their mittens…" I quickly put reading books to her as my wife’s thing and not something I wanted to do. I did think perhaps that she would enjoy some new made-up stories, but in her very early years I got home from work after bedtime, so I put this idea on the back burner for now.
When my daughter was 6 years old, I suffered a major back injury. I was told that if I continued with my job, I may never walk again. After a six-month recovery, I decided to go back to the job I loved because I needed to see if I could still do it, despite my wife and daughters wishes. At work, I was still in pain, but I was in denial of the ultimate consequences of my continuing actions. After enduring the pain for a few weeks, I realized my pride was holding me back, and I needed to take a bold step. I became Mr. Mom. The timing seemed right because my wife had started traveling more with her job. The adjustment was far more challenging than I expected, but one immediate benefit was that I was home for bedtime.
Now that I was home, I began to recall the idea of telling stories at bedtime. I knew my daughter liked the kinds of stories I enjoyed, but I didn’t think that would be enough. I wanted her to learn from the story, not just be entertained. I decided I would teach her life lessons indirectly. Each night after my wife would read her a story, I would come into my daughter’s room and ask her to tell me about her day. As I was listening to her talk about what happened that specific day at school, I would come up with characters and the type of story I would tell her. I wanted to add the fantasy aspect because that’s what she and I both enjoyed. I always made the lead character a girl because I knew my daughter could relate to that type of character. Most of the stories would just pop right into my head. Some stories only lasted one night, but most of the time they would go on for multiple days. Out of this nightly ritual, Aggie was born.
I remember it like it was yesterday, instead of thirteen years later. On that day my daughter was upset because she thought all the girls in her class were prettier than her. She kept saying she thought she was ugly. This was not true, but she didn’t believe me. As if that wasn’t enough, on that same day she was being bullied for being herself. Every kid I guess goes through things like this, but to have both happen at the same time was tragic. I knew right away what I needed to do. I knew she loved fantasy, adventures, and mysteries, so I made up a story about a young girl who was not only insecure about her looks but also being bullied at school. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she was stronger than she could ever imagine, and the beauty was always inside her. I wanted the main character to show the ups and downs of being a pre-teen dealing with kids at school and different insecurities, including how a person looks and how to deal with being bullied. Then I wanted to show her how she could overcome some of her problems. I thought about the story and knew I needed to add some sort of transformation, but not what my daughter would expect. I always loved history, so I added historical settings. The story played out like a movie in my head. Unfortunately, instead of putting my daughter to sleep, it kept her wanting more and not wanting to go to bed. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) this story took many nights to fully play out. Another thing you might now be wondering is why the name Aggie. That’s a story for another day. Until next time . . .