Exploring My Author Theme: Connection to the Past

A long time back in a post on The Author Chronicles blog, I talked about author theme—a theme that seems to recur in every book by that author. In that post, I realized that all of my current WIPs deal with individuality, with the struggle to be yourself and still be accepted and find a place to belong. So that seems to be my primary author theme.

Concept cover art for Veritas by author Kerry GansRecently, I have found another author theme that seems to pervade my work—that of connection to the past, of problems set in motion well before the protagonist came into the picture. Perhaps this is an outgrowth of my fascination with genealogy, or perhaps it’s because I have a soft spot for Chosen One narratives. After all, Chosen Ones are, by definition, chosen by someone or something else outside themselves—usually because of events that happened before they were born or able to influence their own lives.

Concept cover art for The Curse of the Pharaoh's Stone by author P.G.K. HansonIn one WIP, the protagonist’s problems start with something that happened when his uncle was a young archaeologist. In another, the secrets parents kept threaten to tear apart sisters. In a third, a battle 300 years in the past is influencing the present. In a fourth, a conflict of beliefs between her grandparents and her mother force hard decisions on the protagonist. So in many different ways, decisions made by people in the past propel the protagonist into the adventure of the present.

Concept cover art for The Oracle of Delphi, Kansas by author Kerry GansThis is not the same as predestination. My protagonists are free to reject or pick up the task handed to them. They are free to handle the situation as they see fit—not as others deem proper. And even though the decisions of the past are driving the present, those decisions were not predestined, either—those people could have chosen differently.

So this is not predestination—it is reality. In the reality of our world, we are often impacted by decisions made in the past. Had my parents not moved to Pennsylvania, I would not have made the friends I’ve made or met the man I married. Would I have made other friends and met someone else? Probably. But that would have been a different life, a different narrative. And my daughter would not exist. A daughter might exist, but not the one who exists now. And that would change the future. Every decision our ancestors made led to our existence. Every decision we make, even as a child, changes the trajectory of the future.

As Jane Goodall said: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Who or what made a difference in your protagonist’s past? What difference is your protagonist making today?

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