Experiencing Those Thin Places

Experiencing Those Thin Places

Posted on August 10 by Lesley Choyce in Teens
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All of us writers have voices in our heads.  I’m fairly sure of this.  In my novel, Thin Places, Declan is used to having the traditional imaginary male friends that have stayed with him since childhood. But now he is hearing the voice of a girl, an Irish girl. And he is certain it is not coming from his imagination.

Rebecca is real. Soon he not only hears her but he sees her as well — even though no one else can. His life is going nowhere at home and he knows he must solve this riddle of this girl in his head. He must go to Ireland and find her.

So, for me, the lowly author. This was an intriguing situation.

I conjured Declan into existence.

But Declan conjured Rebecca into existence.

Some readers think that authors are a bit like God in their fictional worlds. For me it was the other way around. These two fictional gods were hounding me to make sure they got together and that their story was told.

So I just did just that. I wrote this tale of a quest, an adventure, and a love, and it took me out of my own mundane Canadian mind and into Irish lands and legends.

And, at the insistence of my dogged characters, I physically went to Ireland several times to seek out those thin places where the spirit world and the physical world were very close together. I climbed Mount Knocknarea near Sligo and felt … something.  Perhaps something mystical.  But very real.

I spent time in the ocean at Streedagh Beach — a beautiful remote Atlantic shoreline and knew that here is where Rebecca and Declan would find what they were looking for. 

I fear that all of our so-called rational thinking and our obsessions with materialism have diminished our capability to sense things taking place in other dimensions.  Fiction has allowed me to toy at least with moving into those other dimensions that can be experienced in “thin places.”

Imagination is the bridge that takes you part of the way there. Language is also part of that bridge. But ultimately, author and reader must make the final leap of imagination to make it fully to the other shore.

Declan and Rebecca told me to write the story in verse, to pare down the language, choose the words carefully and weed out the extraneous frills that would detract from their tale. I borrowed the cadence of Irish poets, the humour of Irish blarney, and the spirit of Irish mystics to tell a tale of modern and ancient love.

For those who read Thin Places please be sure to send me a postcard from wherever it takes you.

Lesley Choyce

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
Lesley Choyce photo

Lesley Choyce

Lesley Choyce is the author of over ninety books. His previous verse novel, Jeremy Stone, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. He has won the Dartmouth Book Award, the Atlantic Poetry Prize, and the Ann Connor Brimer Award.