ˈtsītˌɡīst,ˈzītˌɡīst-noun the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.-the story captured the zeitgeist of the late 1960s-

During this year’s A to Z Challenge, I am writing about my latest novel, Escape Plan by giving you all little snippets about the characters, inspiration, and lessons learned while writing my third novel.

I love this word because (like many other German words) it conveys a concept that can not be expressed by any word in English. 

Overlook and Escape Plan are set in 1976 when the larger culture was going through a period of instability. Jimmy Carter was running for president on a platform of change that appealed to an electoral disillusioned by the Watergate affair. The Equal Rights Amendment, which looked like it might get ratified just a year before, had been scuttled by debates over gender roles and feminism was a common topic of conversation at the dinner table. Although the novels tightly focus on the lives of a handful of women in a specific neighborhood in North Carolina, the characters are affected by what was going on in the larger culture.

Kitty and Stacia (the two main characters) are in their late forties and are realizing that the rules they were brought up to follow had changed. Kitty had to give up her dreams of a career when she became a wife and mother. Now that she is single again, her life is difficult but she has the opportunity to control her future. Stacia, on the other hand, was winning the social games of PTA membership and civic engagement. By the mid-70’s, younger women were no longer interested in competing for primacy in “women’s organizations.” Stacia’s way of life was becoming anachronistic.

I did my research on what Kitty and Stacia would be thinking about at this period by talking to some of my mother’s older friends. My mother was in her thirties and running after a toddler in 1976, so was too young to experience much angst at that point. Her older friends did though. Many women were reevaluating their assumptions about gender roles and making changes.

Well, that brings us to the end of the A to Z Challenge. We made it! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the different elements that went into the writing of Escape Plan. I know I’ve enjoyed talking with you all about it. Thanks for dropping by the storage room. Please come back and chat another day.

Escape Plan by Elizabeth Hein (100x150)To celebrate the release of Escape Plan coinciding with the A to Z Challenge, I am giving away a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card and 3 copies of Escape Plan. All you have to do is leave a comment with a way to reach you when you win.

Also, if you sign-up to receive my newsletter, I will send you a free copy of Overlook, the prequel to Escape Plan.

Why not check out some of the other blogs participating in the A to Z Challenge by clicking on the logo below.