She works in the past tense and narrates the events that formed her story. Yet by writing in the first person, she creates an immediacy that feels present and an intimacy that feels personal, bringing the reader in the moment to experience the story from the narrator’s perspective.
In writing The Arrangement, Volume VI, of the seven books in her Mystic Adventures in Big Sur series of novels, JW Winslow thoroughly understood the feelings and circumstances of the protagonist, Dyanna Falconer. Still, from the moment she began writing Volume I, she seemed to have a genuine sense of herself −− who she was and how she felt. What she didn’t know was how this was all going to end, which probably forced her to pull out the story, one volume at a time.
“When I write,” Winslow said, “the story unfolds and I absorb it. The foundation of my books is a community in the heart of Big Sur. Most people don’t really understand what Big Sur is. Most people across the country don’t even know where Big Sur is.”
Perhaps that’s because Big Sur is less of a destination and more of an understanding.
“What drew my attention to Big Sur was a number of interesting things that happened there and the people whose stories I found very touching,” she said. “My protagonist, Dyanna Falconer, is moving to a cottage near the coast in Big Sur. She wants people to understand how sacred the ground and how deeply connected the community remains.”
Readers could start by reading The Arrangement, but it could be like starting with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh volume by JK Rowling, and trying to understand the conflict, the magic, and to understand what matters.
One might consider starting with Jasmine Dogs, followed by two volumes of Jade Beach, before Belinda, and then Lily-Jade before exploring the 406 pages of The Arrangement. Even when readers have finished the book, they still won’t know how the story ends without the final edition, Volume VII, nearing completion. But you will understand “the arrangement”.
“My editor and designer, Mary Jo Moore of Moore Design Graphics,” said Winslow, “says ‘The Arrangement’ is my best yet.”
Winslow believes this part of her series came about easily because she followed what came to her. She casually listened, recorded the lessons, and began to write.
The protagonist Dyanna Falconer is a painter but above all an author who sells her book “Sensual Indigo” −− the title of Winslow’s first book −− to the film industry.
Winslow is also a painter. The cover of each volume in the Mystic Adventure series is an abstraction of color and texture reprinted from Winslow’s original paintings, with the mood and movement of each volume complementing the energy and pacing of the story.
Winslow grew up in a creative environment in Laguna Beach. Her grandfather owned newspapers, her mother was an artist and her father, who grew up in show business, was character actor Dick Winslow. The artistic aesthetic was instilled in her like a family value.
After writing her entire life, JW Winslow began a screenplay that was rejected because it had the level of descriptive detail that an author would put in a book, so that’s exactly what she did with it. “Sensual Indigo,” first published in 1998, is what Winslow calls “the memoirs of a Renaissance woman,” but considers it “the secret diary of a modern artist.”
More than 30 years ago, Winslow had come to the Monterey Peninsula on a work assignment. When she opened her door at the Monterey Beach Hotel, taking in the vastness of the beach and the depth of the navy blue bay, she knew she had found home.
“I was walking barefoot along the beach all the way to the quay,” she said, “when the seagulls swooped overhead and the lights came on over the harbor. It was like meeting a lover you haven’t seen in so long. That’s it.”
In addition to developing her Mystic Adventures in Big Sur series, Winslow has presented her show, WinslowArt, in which she showcases her creative endeavors and explores the same with other members of the community. The show, which is televised via AMP, runs on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Access and information is available at https://jwwinslow.com/winslow-art-tv/.
“Showcasing my artistry on screen is a great way to keep me and my writing, my poetry, my art, along with other artists, out there,” she said, “at a time when we really don’t want to be out there.” , but we crave creative engagement.”
With the completion of each book published in her Mystical Adventures in Big Sur series, Winslow thought that perhaps the story was complete until additional storylines emerged and the books evolved. After completing The Arrangement, she realized that some very big issues remained unresolved, revealing the need for one final installment. And so it continues.
“When I was finishing a book, intending to leave it there, with a very definitive ending,” she said, “my agent kept asking for more, kept asking me what happened. I knew I had to continue Dyanna Falconer’s story and let the readers follow her life. The ongoing story takes many twists and turns and I never knew what was going to happen until I got to this point. History is writing before me.”
For more information on JW Winslow’s artistry and access to The Arrangement and the rest of the Mystic Adventures series, visit www.jwwinslow.com. The Arrangement is also available at Grove Market in Pacific Grove and through River House Books at The Crossroads Carmel.