Please help me welcome Elizabeth Hein as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. She is going to talk about the importance of some of the tokens we may hold dear. In honor of Lara, the central character in Elizabeth’s book, How to Climb the Eiffel Tower, I thought we would have some tea as we sit back and read what she has to share.
I am honored to be a guest here on Maryann’s blog and share a little insight into where story elements come from.
The tokens we keep can take on significance far beyond their form. For instance, I wear a silver scarab ring as a memento of my journey through cancer treatment. In 2002, I visited the “Quest For Immortality – Treasures of Ancient Egypt” exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. The timing of our trip was fortuitous. I had recently finished the radiation phase of my cancer treatment and was on the mend.
The special exhibit had a room that traced Thutmose III’s journey through the netherworld to the after life. The parallels between the Ancient Egyptian story and my experience with cancer treatment were remarkable. I stood in that room studying the hieroglyphs and reading about the Egyptian god Ra in the form of the rising sun, Khepri, until my family pulled me out of there. Khepri, the god that escorted the dead person across the river of death into the afterlife, is usually depicted as a scarab beetle. I love a good symbol so the image of the lowly dung beetle laying its eggs in a ball of dung and rolling it from place to place as a metaphor of rebirth and the rising sun resonated with me.
In the little gift shop at the end of the exhibit, I bought the silver scarab ring to mark my visit. For several years, I wore it every day as a talisman. I still wear it often, especially if I am feeling anxious or worried about the future. It reminds me of how I went through a terrible experience and came out the other side.
When I was writing How To Climb The Eiffel Tower, I decided to use my scarab ring as a model and imbue pieces of jewelry with significance. In a pivotal scene, Lara Blaine, the main character, finds the cross her grandmother wore and begins to wear it as a reminder of her grandmother’s love.
Jane Babcock-Roberts, the other main character, has a charm bracelet that she uses to remember all the places she has visited in her world travels. Whenever she visited a special place, she added a charm to her bracelet. Instead of scrap books or trinkets, she kept her memories around her wrist. I won’t give too much away, but that charm bracelet becomes significant to Lara and Jane’s relationship
Now it’s your turn. Do you keep things? Have they become more significant to you over time? I’d love to hear about them.
Don’t forget to enter the RAFFLECOPTER Give-Away to win a lovely charm of the Eiffel Tower.
Elizabeth Hein grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. Her childhood was filled with excellent food and people loudly talking over each other. After studying psychology at the College of the Holy Cross, she and her husband embarked on the adventure of parenting their two beautiful daughters. They now live in Durham, North Carolina.
In 2002, Elizabeth was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood. During her extensive treatment, she met dozens of other cancer patients and developed close relationships with several of them. These friendships were the inspiration for How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. She learned that a cancer diagnosis is a life changing experience, yet it does not necessarily change a life for the worse.
Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. Her first novel, Overlook, spotlighted a housewife dealing with a cheating husband and the pressures of keeping up appearances. Elizabeth has published several short stories and is currently writing a novella and beginning to write a historical family saga about how love and identity effect four generations of women. Elizabeth enjoys interacting with her readers and can be found on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and her blog.
2 thoughts on “Tokens And Talismans”
Elizabeth, you were meant to be at that exhibit at that time in your life. Writing about the meaning you found in the beetle and your cancer is profound. The ring, our tokens and talismans deserve more attention. Your writing reminds me to pay closer attention to the things around me. Loved your post!
Thanks for stopping by Stepheny. I was so happy to have Elizabeth as a guest and I think her book is a reminder to us all to focus on what is important in our lives and cherish it all.