Message From The Author
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. That?s the old saying treasured by stodgy history teachers and dreaded by kids struggling under the weight of overstuffed social studies textbooks everywhere.
But it?s okay with Ciji Ware. In fact, she believes we all repeat the past?whether we remember it or not. And it?s a key concept in her newest release, MIDNIGHT ON JULIA STREET, a ?dual? story in the tradition of films like ?The Frenchman?s Daughter? and ?Dead Again,? as well as her previous book, A Cottage by the Sea.
Triggered by her sense of smell,
MIDNIGHT?S modern-day heroine relives the incidents of her ancestors through flashback-like sequences.
?I take the knowledge of the past but link it to the present, to answer the question, ?How is the past still influencing us?? Usually a trauma echoes down from the past, affecting the hero and heroine, whether it be alcoholism or illness or something emotional.?
Ciji plumbed her own family?s past when she left an illustrious career as a TV reporter to ?join the family business??writing. Her ancestors include William Ware, who wrote the historical novel Zenobia, Henry Ware, who wrote a number of religious tomes and Sarah Ware Perry, who wrote romantic fiction! Another of her ancestors, Jane Maxwell, Duchess of Gordon, was the inspiration for her first novel, Island of the Swans, which was re-issued last year.
Like Island, MIDNIGHT was also partly inspired by Ciji?s own ancestors. A romantic novel of intrigue set in New Orleans, MIDNIGHT features a present-day storyline about a take-no-prisoners TV journalist (just a bit autobiographical, says Ciji) and a historical preservationist who are fighting to save a beautiful Greek Revival building. The structure?s origins are mysteriously linked to those of their own ancestors during the Golden Age in the Big Easy. Ciji?s great-aunt Madge McCullough, the family genealogist, told Ciji the story of her many-generations-removed grandmother who fell in love with the carpenter who built her father?s house in Pittsburgh. The duo eloped to New Orleans, and their story makes up the historical part of MIDNIGHT.
To create the story?s modern-day frame, Ciji intertwined their tale with a current event in New Orleans, a big fight between the city council and a historical preservation society over the fate of a building that had once belonged to a consortium of free men of color who had pooled their money to buy the building. Interestingly enough, the predominantly black city council was in favor of demolishing the building and erecting a hotel in its place to bolster the economy.
?Some may say [this novel is about] playing a race card, but there were people of all colors on both sides. It?s really a story of how the community [members] had to educate themselves and rediscover their personal histories.?
The tale has a happy ending. ?In real life, the building is still sitting there but no one?s really touched it since. In my story
of course, the building is rehabbed and goes on to have a bright, beautiful future.?
In the sequel to MIDNIGHT, titled Last Night in Natchez, which will be released in 2000, a harpist retreats from her professional problems in New York to the south. When she arrives in Natchez, harps in parlors all over the city begin playing at midnight. Then the hero, a handsome nature photographer in town to photograph the birds Audubon painted 160 years ago, finds that the creatures are mysteriously dying in droves.
Known for her richly detailed plots with their ?painless? injections of history, Ciji researches her books for an average of six months, spending about half the time reading in libraries and the other half
visiting the places and conducting interviews with historians and other people that are relevant to her novel.
?I really see history as a human story. I?m a storyteller, not a historian, but I pride myself, as a reporter, on getting all the facts right.?
After the amassed facts are sorted out, it?s up to Ciji to piece it all together and create a seamlessly interwoven narrative with two distinct stories. ?It?s kind of like doing a 3-D puzzle that is multi-layered but makes a beautiful picture at the end. But even after three books, I sometimes have days where I want to hurl my laptop against the wall.?
To add to that aggravation, while she was in the midst of puzzling things out
for MIDNIGHT, Ciji was adrift in a sea of cardboard boxes and packing tape. She
and her husband had recently relocated
for his new position as publisher/managing editor of the personal finance website Quicken.com and while trying to find a place closer to Silicon Valley, the couple moved to three different places in one year?six packing jobs total!
?It was horrible! We moved into one condo and the guy next door was a registered gun owner and a manic depressive who had stopped taking his medication! He was slipping angry diatribes under all the neighbors? doors so we had to get out of there. I?ll
probably use it in a book someday!?
Danger averted, the couple finally settled into a lovely home in San Francisco?s Nob Hill district, where they can hear the trolleys clanging past and the bells of the Grace Cathedral chiming on the hour. A true happy ending.
Readers can contact Ciji Ware c/o Ballantine Books, 201 E. 50th Street, New York, NY 10022.
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