In today’s guest post, I have the great pleasure of welcoming author Jacqueline Rainey to the blog. Jacqueline, author of TONI’S BLUES, THROUGH WHOSE EYES: RISE, CHILD OF GOD, DARK HARMONIE, and 30: THE DRAGONFLY CATCHER, discusses her author journey of discovery through spirituality, music and writing, which is an enlightening and compelling essay. Without any further ado, over to Jacqueline!
Spirituality, Music and Writing
An Author’s Journey
I can honestly say that I was born to write, first falling in love with the words to songs like Smokey Robinson’s “Ooo Baby, Baby” “Quiet Storm” and “Cruisin.” Smokey Robinson’s voice was smooth, almost magical to me when I was a young girl of only about eleven. I remember there was this one song that I fell in love with and just had to hear it every morning before going to school. I would rush around the apartment getting dressed so that I could run next door to the apartment where my favorite uncle lived and have him play the song for me, sometimes two, three times back to back. The minute the needle hit the vinyl something wonderful would happen with my ears; every instrument and vocal would become crystal clear and I would sing. That song was “Let Me Be the Clock” this song came out in 1974 and I was just a young girl of about ten or eleven years old and it was around this time that I wrote my first poem which was a love poem about the heartache of being in love and not being loved back.
I believe it was my mother’s love of music that help to unlock not only the music lover in me, but the writer as well. On weekends the apartment would be filled with music; Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Whispers, The Jacksons, The Sylvers, Commodores, Evelyn Champagne King and the very missed Minnie Riperton. The list of musical artists that helped to shape this writer goes on and on; today when I listen to their songs I’m instantly taken back to that time and place where they and their music were my world. They all took me on a journey with music and most importantly with their words. When the poet in me bloomed I wrote to take myself on a journey and to tell the story of me, but back then my poems were only meant for my eyes to see, my lips to read and my heart to feel. Writing is so intimate, most writer bare more than their souls when they write and in my books I have seamlessly weaved in the deepest and most intimate parts of my soul in words and lines and paragraphs. I write in a way that may at times come off as some sort of code that can only be interpreted by someone who has walked in all my shoes, but that is so far from the truth; the words I string together to create my stories are literally filled with magic.
I write fascinating one liners and paragraphs that instantly brings the reader to that exact moment and emotion to the point of wishing they were there to see it: for example this from my third book “Dark Harmonie” These are the tales of me, a woman who lived her life as an ordinary creation of God, telling it from a dark, candle-lit room while sitting in a corner. Although it was only two o’clock in the afternoon in Arlington, outside my bedroom window, it was as dark as midnight and the only thing I could see clearly was the lone tree that brought me shade in the summer and became a winter wonderland scene in the winter when it snowed. Everything was beautiful when covered in that white blanket, fresh and white without a footprint in sight. Just for a short time it was pure, a symbol of how all things were one shade, neither black nor white.
During the editing process my editor told me that she loved this paragraph, she saw the beauty in my words and I felt that I had accomplished what I was going for. What those who have not read Dark Harmonie don’t know is that it’s a story about a child of God who is fighting to the death to hang on to her soul, fighting to stay alive and running, not walking, but running every step of the way and all of her enemy are dying off one by one in odd ways. A lot of my writing was done while listening to music, but for some reason it just wasn’t there during the creative process of “Dark Harmonie.”
After the publishing of my second book “Toni’s Blues” I felt like I was having a secret affair with everything else I began working on. The story of Toni a broken woman who only wanted to be loved the way she loved is just one of those stories that just never goes away no matter how many more books come after it. When I began work on my forth book “30: The Dragonfly Catcher” it almost felt as if my two lead characters Toni and CaSandra were competing against each other and vying for my creative affection and attention. As a writer I used that spirited character competition to push my character CaSandra completely over the edge in “30: The Dragonfly Catcher” giving her her own spotlight to shine in and my character Toni still remained a star in her own right. These two women are complete opposite of each other the weak and timid soul of Toni would be completely consumed by CaSandra as if engulf by inferno flames and burned to ash. But what kind of writer would I be if didn’t push my creative limits and recognize the muse that Toni was during the birth of “30: The Dragonfly Catcher?” Both of these strong women character have plenty of very memorable lines and histories that make them come to life on the pages and reach out to the readers and say “do you feel what I feel?” “Do you hurt when I hurt?” Of course these are not lines in either of the stories, but you will feel when they feel and hurt when they hurt.
Take a look at these dueling lines and feel free to just let them take you inside the worlds of Toni of “Toni’s Blues” and CaSandra of “30: The Dragonfly Catcher.”
Toni’s Blues: His fists were gone and so was I, lost among the past scenes filled with pleading cries and screams. I had done more than stumble, I fell, I was battered and bruised. I had done more than just fall, I paused and stopped it all and here in this window is where I landed. Nothing soft about it, an over the top crash landing and I was the wreckage. My soul, the black-box that only God could decipher, the pieces of His creation were shattered beyond recognition except to Him and He knew me because He had formed me from that small speck of dust. (From Chapter Two)
30: The Dragonfly Catcher: I kissed him softly on his forehead before I began the work of cutting off his head with the kitchen knife that I brought back with me. I held the blade steady, my hands didn’t shake not one bit; at first I used one hand and then I put both my hands on the knife, pressing down hard and cutting faster each time I hear that voice in my head say “he’s going to leave you, they always do”
“Dark Harmonie”, “Toni’s Blues” and “30: The Dragonfly Catcher” all have amazing female lead characters and I’m currently working on a new named “Dirty Blue” which will make the vixen CaSandra look like a schoolgirl. Dirty Blue aka Nichelle Davis is a complex character who worships and respects her gun which she has named Daisy. Just like Toni and CaSandra she is beautiful to behold, but it’s always the beautiful ones who are the most intense and unpredictable. Her ritual of creating what she calls self-portraits on an array of mirrors drawn in her own blood give this character a dark side that makes it hard for you to not to want to read more about her. My writing style has evolved since the publishing of my first book “Through Whose Eyes: Rise, Child of God” which was my introduction to the world as a writer. “Dirty Blue” is not my only new writing project on deck there are currently two others along with a screenplay that is based on one of the new projects entitled “Evening the Race.”
My love for music at a young age was a key that unlocked the door to a world of creative writing that I had never dreamed of, who would have thought that this ex-addict and abused child would be blessed with such a beautiful gift of creativity! Sometimes when I see my books and posters of my bookcovers I am in awe of it all as if it’s someone else’s work, unbelievable! Music inspired me to write some of these memorable lines in the stories of “Through Whose Eyes: Rise, Child of God”: These are more than just stories they are words strung together that build a foundation of strength, hope and faith. The story of the little girl seeking out churches every time she moved to a new foster home was me; I had been through seven foster homes in less than a year. Even before I knew what I know now about spirituality and faith I knew that someone or something bigger than anything I was going through was out there watching it all and it turns out I was right; God was always there. The title of that story is “Waiting for God.” It turns out I wasn’t waiting for Him, but He was waiting for me to realize that He was there and that He saw all that had transpired.
“I wanted to fade into the background. I wanted to become a part of the landscape, at least then I would be seen.” (Waiting For God)
“She sat in the back of the church and prayed as the choir sang; all she wanted was to be clean.” (Clean)
“She opened her eyes to the walls of a familiar place, but not one of comfort. Being confined wasn’t the hard part; she didn’t want to lose her corner……..” (Turning Corners)
“Behind closed doors, my mother’s fears and worries showed, pushing her to hold on to her Bible like a floatation device.” (Touched)
I won’t lie and say that I’m not in the category of being one of those crazy obsessed writers because I would only be fooling myself. I’ve learned over time to embrace the quirks and eccentricities that come with being highly creative and imaginative; if I didn’t possess these wonderful qualities my writing would be nowhere near as creative and entertaining as it is. When things get crazy in this not so big world that we live in I can always count on my spirituality, music and my writing to fade the world into the background and become a blank page allowing me to create a world of my own. As a writer I have thrown the doors wide open to my world and humbly invite you in to pick up my books and prepare for the journey to begin.
Author Jacqueline Rainey
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