Author Teresa Clifton of Milford finished her first adult fiction novel in February. Receiving the Individual Artist Fellowship award from the Delaware Division on the Arts (DDA) last year as she was recognized as an Emerging Professional, DDA awarded Clifton a $3,000 grant to work on her newest book, Red Balloon.
Terri Clifton, a writer since she was a teenager, is a Delaware native who lives near Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge. Her most known novel, A Random Soldier, was written by Terri after her son was killed by a mortar attack in Iraq while he was serving as a United States Marine. Her first full book since her son’s death, Clifton’s Red Balloon is a character-driven book that depicts two lovers in a coming-of-age story.
The novel depicts two lovers, set in the background of the Cold War and the revolution of rock and roll. Red Balloon moves through the challenges of these lovers as dramatic changes take place around their world and the world around them. A young women during the 1980s, Clifton found that she began to identify her younger self with the novel’s younger character as Clifton began to develop who the character was.
“The 1980s were a very interesting time to grow up in,” commented Clifton. “There were a lot of women’s issues, equal rights, the Cold War and rock and roll,” commented Clifton. “As I began to understand what it meant to become a women, society was also challenged what womanhood really was.”
The older character, who falls in love with the younger character in the story is met with the situation of seeing the transformations taking place in the world and knowing that his lover will be transformed in ways that he cannot prevent. Clifton acknowledges that she now identifies more closely with the older character in the novel.
“He is smart enough to know everything is about to change and that she, as a young woman, is going to change too,” commented Clifton. “He is terrified that he is in love with a younger woman about to be completely transformed.”
A serious endeavor for Clifton, she worked on Red Balloon eight hours a day for several months, developing the story and the characters that the readers follow. Creating a different story than she first intended to, Clifton admits that to finish the novel it took more than just writing. The key was understanding the energy it took to complete the task and meditation to stay focused. Overall, Clifton learned more about herself than the characters she developed in the book.
“I’ve learned so much from writing this novel,” commented Clifton. “I used to say I was the best quitter but I could not quit this. I learned self-discipline, that I love writing and that I want to be in that world where I can make a living as a writer.”
With Red Balloon finished, Clifton now searches for an agent that can help her sell the book to publishers across the country and help with marketing the completed book. She is excited for the opportunities that are ahead and is interested to hear what others think of the book.
“What I have found out is that everyone takes out of your work what they bring with them, the experiences they have been through, “ commented Clifton. “I think we will just have to wait and see how.”