I know that with four days until the release of In The Cards, I should be looking to the future, but this week, I can't help being a little nostalgic. Here's why:
I remember my first deck of tarot cards, but more than that, or even my second, I remember my third. I hadn’t started out meaning to collect them, but an interest in gypsies grew to interest in fortune-telling, and the card deck I picked up on a school trip to France proved to be more of a game than the oracle most people think of when tarot is mentioned. My second attempt, a Renaissance tarot, was all gilded figures and images which were all too like one another to interest me. But the third: oh, I remember the third!
The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot looks like something Tim Burton would use to scout out his inner terrain: full of strange angles, stranger proportions, bright colors, and the sweet juxtaposed with the disturbing. I loved it for that exact reason, and brought it home from the store where I worked in the summer between high school and college. I was sweet up against strangeness, myself: a young woman on the edge of the four-year journey of finding her true self. On one particular summer evening, I laid out the new chenille blanket I’d received as a graduation present, and sat in the basement den with a candle burning and the lights out. As I shuffled, thunder rolled over the horizon and into the valley, as sweetly as if I had summoned it there. I felt a shiver and knew I was about to discover something really good about my future: something very important about myself. Card by card, I laid out the spread printed to fit inside the tiny instruction booklet and deciphered its message, knowing the Secrets Of The Universe were about to Tell Me Everything.
The Universe, knowing a good joke setup when it sees one, gave me total gibberish. The Sun, Temperance, something about illusions, and all sorts of stuff that didn’t seem a thing like me. I was really, really annoyed about this, especially since there was a darn good thunderstorm rumbling overhead and I could be doing something fantastic with it instead, something like writing. And then a small, still voice said: Hey. Hey, maybe this reading isn’t for you. Maybe it’s for a character. Don’t you see a story, here?
After a second look, I sure did: the story of a newspaper reporter, investigating missing psychics even though he didn’t believe a word of it, and getting a reading from a medium who called his bluff and pushed all his buttons. I knew just who’d be responsible: characters lurking in a house with no town attached yet. So I wrote down that reading in detail, and started to build the story. I called it “Possible Outcome”, after the nickname for the last card position in the tarot spread I’d used. The town’s name and a few characters came in the wake of a very, very nasty argument which cost me a very dear friend: and what started as my “breakup song” became the way I stayed afloat. As it grew, the town of Aviario gave me direction, and helped me find new friends through my enthusiasm. It may not even be all that excessive to say that there were moments when it saved me.
Even when I’d finished my first draft, my second, my third … it had never quite felt complete. It never felt right. So I set it on the shelf, after college, and Real Life swallowed me whole. I forgot about writing, and got pulled and twisted and wrenched in a million different directions. For five long years, I thought I had what I wanted, but I only had what everyone else had told me I wanted: I was Working For A Living Trying To Make It On My Own As An Adult. … I think I speak for most “adults” when I say: Meh. Once I realized that I should have been writing all along, and Buster Heywood helped me get my feet under me again, I knew exactly where I had to go, next.
"Possible Outcome" had some serious growing pains. The newspaper reporter is gone, most of the cast has changed, the plot is richer, and it has a much, much better title. But when you crack open In The Cards this Sunday, even if you‘ve already been to Aviario, I hope you enjoy your first steps into town. May they be a little sweeter, knowing that they were mine.
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