It occurs to me that I know not what I do. I have never written a biography before, much less a complete novel. (I've written ever so many fragments, much to Natalie's dismay.) I haven't read many either. I enjoyed one about Tolkien a few years back. Or maybe it was Lewis, but that doesn't really help me now. How does one go about creating a biography? Where does personal experience meet fact? What tone should I use? What voice?
My mother claims she is
not the adventuring sort. A self-professed hobbit, she pretends to prefer the
company of a good book and a cup of tea before daring exploits, but it cannot
be denied there is something Tookish about her. In 1980, twenty-four-years-old
and single as the day she was born, she set of for Africa to work with missions
in Tanzania for three months; and in 1985, supported by the training a one-year
Bible school could offer and four years of marriage, she packed up her belongings
right alongside her husband, tucked her golden-haired son under an arm, and flew
to India for a six month stay in Teodori, a missions compound nestled deep in
Orissa province, thirty kilometers as the crow flies from Pakur. It was a
peaceful place, equipped with a hospital and farmland, and my parents found it
an oasis of calm in comparison to the other big cities they had visited, like Calcutta,
Bombay, and Karachi. Here the geese ran with the chickens and the goats, and
cows grazed alongside the water buffalo.
And can one really talk about hobbits in a (rather) serious book about missions?