I'm always curious when I come across a story told in first person. Why did the author choose to write the story from that point of view? What challenges did the author face using this point of view? And how did she overcome them?
Candis Coffee, author of Mariposa, answers these questions for us today:
A novel written in first person has an old-fashioned quality and a touch of formality. “I would like to tell you my story.” The reader is expected to be attentive, if for no other reason, at first, than to be polite. “Here you are, now please sit down and listen.” The book has been opened, and the author is speaking directly to the reader. If the first page is compelling, then the reader wishes to go on, to learn about this invisible narrator who is communicating with her.
Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and John Fowles' The Magus, influenced my decision to use this point of view in my first novel. The narrator must be quite interesting immediately, or the first person point of view becomes flat, and the book will quickly be closed forever. Because my book is a historical novel, set in 1920s and 1930s West Texas, Los Angeles, and Mexico, this more old-fashioned POV suited it.
The challenge of using this POV lay in distancing myself from the main character. She had to have her own life. She wasn't me, but I did become Annarose. I saw the world through her eyes, and I felt her life as she lived it. I, as my main character, Annarose, told “my” story to the reader. To use this POV is to immerse oneself in the world of the narrator, and this can be as close to entering another universe as is possible without the use of drugs.
Here's more about Mariposa:
A spiritual, intellectual, brave young woman creates the life of her dreams, only to be deeply disappointed by its inability to sustain her.
As a child in West Texas, Annarose sees life and intelligence in everything. She finds herself in a relationship with an invisible “Presence,” which beckons to her spirit and with whom she feels most alive. A friendship with a Mexican boy and her love of the landscape also nurture this young girl who feels rejected by her Mother.
Annarose is deeply hurt when she is banished to Los Angeles at thirteen. She loses her connection to spirit, then begins to seek it again through intellectual pursuits. Here she finds herself in a waiting room between worlds, that of Texas and Mexico.
Her philosophical studies and supportive friendship with Estelle, a gifted musician, lead to an awakening for Annarose. She becomes a writer, and she travels to Mexico. She wants to feel life again. She meets Mexican muralist, Crisanto and chooses him as her lover. He is her connection to all that is beautiful, wild, free and happy because he is the “Other” and she feels that she can also find aspects of the maternal within him. She befriends the artist, Frida Kahlo. She embraces all that this man, his people and his country represent.
In the end, Annarose returns to West Texas alone, ready to give birth to their child. Over a period of three days, she spends time with her family, and she recalls her experiences. She finds peace, and she finally comprehends the true nature of joy.
Candis C. Coffee grew up in West Texas where her family has lived since 1848 when they immigrated from Ireland. The house in Mariposa is based on the 150-year-old home of her grandparents on the banks of the Concho River in San Angelo.
Candis spent nearly fifteen years in Santa Monica, California, where she was employed as a writer for various organizations. She later moved to New Orleans where she helped Chef Paul Prudhomme write the cookbook of his dreams and titled it Fork in the Road. Candis longed for the desert, however, which inspired a move to Santa Fe and graduate school at the University of New Mexico. She has since returned to her birthplace in West Texas where she currently resides.
After receiving a BA in Literature from the University of Texas, she pursued graduate studies in Creative Writing, Literature, and Spanish. She is presently at work on a children's book and is pursuing a doctoral degree in alternative health care and the healing arts.
Mariposa is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, other online retailers and at your local bookstore. You may also purchase Mariposa directly from Behler Publications
The MARIPOSA VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Candis' tour in progress, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of her tour! One lucky winner will be announced at her tour page on June 30!
This virtual book tour has been brought to you by: