What do you Know?

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Leonora Meriel to my blog. I've just started reading her novels, Woman Behind the Waterfall and The Unity Game, and I find myself wondering, if we're supposed to write what we know and use our imaginations, how does what the author knows feed into imagining the stories she tells? Since she's here as a guest on my blog, I get to ask:

To what extent do you draw on your own life in her writing, 
and to what extent does what you "know" feed into what you imagine?

Thank you so much for being my guest today, Leonora, and I'm eager to learn your answer. Over to you Leonora.

There are different ways of knowing things.

I have been to New York and Kyiv and Shanghai I know what these cities are like.

I have also been in love, and I know how that feels.

I have known things with my body – fear, mistrust, attraction.

And I have had experiences when I have known things with my soul – known them so deeply and entirely and without any prior knowledge – and they have turned out to be absolutely true.

In my writing, I use every level of knowing and I also make sure my characters use these levels of knowing as well.

My first novel “The Woman Behind the Waterfall” was set in Ukraine, a country I had got to

know and love from living there for 10 years and learning the language. I was painstakingly careful to get every detail of Ukrainian life accurate and I had several research trips to different areas and had Ukrainian speakers check my language.

However, the novel is magical realism, and so I also had one of my characters merge into birds and air and storms and plants. I feel that this is part of my knowing, as I have experienced this unity in occasional moments of my life, and I combined these personal moments with the imagination of a child in order to achieve a character who could transform from a girl into other spirits.

My second novel was set in New York, another city where I had lived and knew intimately. Once again, I was incredibly careful with every detail, and re-visited the city and walked the streets to check the colour of the rain on flashlights and streetlights; to check the menu items in the diners and how far the river jogging paths stretched.

However, this second novel “The Unity Game” was also set on a distant planet, and in an after-life dimension. So…… where does knowledge fit into this scenario?

Well, I had researched after-life / near-death experiences widely and also reported alien experiences. So I had a strong body of knowledge from an Earth perspective. And when I came to write the novel, my characters created worlds and took me to places they wanted to inhabit and discover. I would not strictly call this knowledge, but I would say that I was very open to the possibilities of a far wider-reality, and the realities that I wrote about became extremely vivid for me in their creation. In a way, these other realities have now become a part of my own knowledge. I suspect other writers have experience this as well – other worlds opening up to them from delving into novels.

Every one of my books contains parts of my life, from my experiences as a mother, to a young professional in New York, to drinking home-brewed vodka (“horilka”) in Ukraine – and each of them also contains many layers of knowledge gathered through my mind, through my heart, through my body and through my soul.

But the most special knowledge - is that which I have gained through the writing of my books – the new worlds that have been born. I cannot believe that they don’t exist somewhere, somehow – or how else did they flow through my pen with such insistency?

This is something I will ponder for all my life.

The Woman Behind the Waterfall
Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village.
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother's fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.

Reviewers say
“Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“The language is lyrical and poetic and, in places, begs to be read repeatedly for the sheer joy of it… A literary work of art.” ~~ Fiona Adams, The Richmond Magazine
“Rich and poetic in detail, it is an often dreamy, oneiric narrative rooted in an exaltation of nature… A lovely novel.” ~~ IndieReader

The Unity Game
A New York banker is descending into madness.
A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.
A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.
From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.
Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a 'complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel' from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.

Find it on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072DWZBYC/

Reviewers say
 “A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer
“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer

Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.
During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.
In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.


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