Saturday, April 07, 2012

Only a Writer Can Make a Tree (Weekend Guest Camille Minichino)

We are delighted to welcome Camille Minichino to Type M for Murder.

Camille Minichino is a retired physicist turned writer. She has 3 releases this spring: A re-issue of The Hydrogen Murder as an e-book; the second in the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries, The Probability of Murder (by Ada Madison, March 6); and the sixth in the Miniature Mysteries, Mix-Up in Miniature (by Margaret Grace, April 2). Soon, every aspect of her life will be a mystery series.

Only a Writer Can Make a Tree

I celebrated Women's History Month by reviewing the lives of some of my favorite heroines. I lingered with mathematician Sophie St. Germain (1776-1831), after whom my latest protagonist, math teacher Sophie Knowles, is named. I stopped by the amazing lives of other women I admire: suffragette Harriet Tubman (1820-1913); scientist Marie Curie (1867-1934); public health nurse Margaret Sanger (1883-1966). Too many for one blog.

Flipping through a bio of pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart (b. 1897), I was struck by this quote of hers: "You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky." My kind of girl. One who recognizes the power of technology and its role in our lives. The airplane, for example, is an extension of our ability to jump in the air, to move effortlessly higher and higher, against gravity. And what we see from there may be more astounding than what we see close-up on earth.

Fiction does the same thing for us. We invent characters, plots, and settings not simply to share our stories, but to see beyond them, to see their undersides and their shadows. As I interpret Amelia (and until we find her, she can't contradict me), the shadow is more "real" than the tree. And, in the same way, fiction can be more real than the life and the people it portrays.

In fiction we rise above the everyday world in order to understand it better and to bring others to that new view.

Can we reach such lofty goals through mysteries? I think so. We are, after all, looking at the highest of stakes, the taking of a life. We examine motives, consequences, emotional reactions, and, above all, we attempt to make sense in a world that only randomly kicks out an orderly event.

It's possible that elsewhere Amelia Earhart echoes Gertrude Stein and says "a tree is a tree is a tree," but it's too late for me. I'm holding onto her shadow quote.


Camille Minichino said...

Thanks for the great welcome, Frankie and Type M bloggers. I love it when other people make my words look so good on the screen!

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

It's a lovely post, Camille. Especially now that Amelia Earhart is so hauntingly back in the news.

Liz said...

Thoughtful, as always.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Camille--congratulations on all the spring releases. And thanks for the great contributions to Type M.

hannah Dennison said...

Welcome to Type M Camille - What a wonderful post. I love it. I think you have answered my question of why I enjoy reading and writing mysteries so much- great quote from Amelia, too. said...
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