Eleanor is an extraordinary girl pretending to be ordinary. She hides in plain sight in Jamesford, a small rural town somewhere between Yellowstone and Dubois on the lonely roads that no one travels.
When I conceived of ELEANOR, I saw the story of a shy but wondrous girl growing up in a small town. I saw it not as a three act thriller, nor as a Shakespearean five act drama, but more along the lines of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Richard Adam’s Watership Down, gentle tales of place and progress. A fable, if you will.
I originally wanted her home to be a real place, but sensing the importance of it, the trauma and wonders I was going to subject it to, it’s metaphor and mirror, I invented Jamesford.
Jamesford is Eleanor’s home. It didn’t used to be, but it is now and she’s losing it.
To understand Eleanor and you must understand where she lives. You must understand it’s beauty and its ugliness, its people and monuments. You must know why she came here, know why she remains. You must feel at home. That is the key.
The changing seasons, the moods and fads, her home and bedroom, the trivial events of grocery stores and banks, schools and woods are all there not just as setting but as character. Every space is an emotional color that like Eleanor, can change and be full of contradiction. Safety one minute, danger the next.
Eleanor, The Unseen rises gradually, gently, in tone and suspense, letting the reader settle in, walk the streets of Jamesford with the shy girl who knows herself to be a stranger. Jamesford is more than background. It is metaphor and stage, mirror and antagonist. Lover, enemy and goal. It is the context upon the fable of ELEANOR’s is told.
Eleanor’s relationship to Jamesford is at the heart of the story. Jamesford has its own character arc, subtle but omnipresent. It is complicated place, like Eleanor herself. While Eleanor comes to love and hope, understand and possibly accept, so too does Jamesford struggle with the fearful little girl who wants to ignored, but can’t be.
I know Eleanor as one of my children. I love her as only a father can. I know too Jamesford, it’s roads and secret places. I can walk its hidden paths in the dark and arrive at Tabitha’s tomato plants without waking the neighbor’s dog. These things are alive in me and I hope that the experience will be shared with my readers.
“In the back of the house, away from the pine’s shadow, Eleanor grew tomatoes in buckets in the sunny spots. She had ten plants as tall as she was and as cared for as the flowers. She’d planted them in old five-gallon plastic pales she’d found discarded in a dump heap. To support them, she made frames from whatever she could find. She used wood from fallen aspen trees and splintered posts, wire from a cast-off chain-link fence, and, for delicate string, threads of trimmed telephone wire she’d found under a green switch box behind the post office . The tomatoes themselves had been nursed from seed in the winter in the back window of the kitchen.