What should be the first paragraph of a novel I wrote about interracial love in the early sixties?
The title is Love in Opposing Colors. That for me was the question. One that plagued and tormented. For days I wrestled with the problem. It got stronger. I, weaker. Finally I thought I’d pinned the solution to the mat. However, it did a reversal, slammed me in a hammer lock and flattened my shoulders. “One,” proclaimed the referee. “Two.”
Lucky for me, I, with a little quick thinking, recovered and voila came up with just the right idea. Why not begin a love story with not love, but hate. So, I did.
Opening paragraph of Love in Opposing Colors.
“I hated that woman! That’s the way I felt about Karen Ennslaw. I abhorred her guts, her name, the sound of the name, the sight of her, the way she walked, talked, gestured, breathed, plus the fact she breathed at all. Even the air she breathed I hated, hated for allowing her to inhale it free of asphyxiation. Karen Ennslaw was absolutely the last person I needed in my already problem-filled life”
So, now I had an opening paragraph for Love in Opposing Colors. What comes next? Quite a bit. A raucous house party: entertainer, Ray Charles. A fist fight, almost sending both combatants to an emergency room. Karen’s wealthy father’s opposition to his daughter’s marriage to Paul, a person of a different race. Her father’s intent to end the relationship, using “any means necessary.” A detective who probes the lives of the lovers. A murder. A house fire. And a couple who learns much about life, themselves and, most importantly, about their love.
With the beginning and middle of Love in Opposing Colors out of the way, how do I end it? As I saw it, there was only one way: with the following paragraph.
“Since Karen’s departure to rejoin the squadron to which Saint Peter assigned her, I often asked myself what I learned from having loved an angel who strayed off course and somehow landed in my life. She taught me many things, but the greatest lesson of all was this: with genuine love there are no opposing colors for, as she assured me again and again, love looks beyond exteriors and sees what is in the heart.”
Calvin Davis is the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.