Friday, August 21, 2009
The Day My Fiction Turned Real
Violet Dawn, first in my Kanner Lake series, released three years ago this month. It's a suspense story that blends reality into fiction in numerous ways. Never did I expect the fiction to turn into reality. But later in 2006 ... it did.
I had to visit our tax man, see, take him some documents. Sounds like a boring enough errand. Unless you’re a novelist living my life, which tends to weird out every once in a while. Okay, more than once in a while.
So I arrive at Ron’s office. Haven’t seen him since the previous March, when we did our taxes. He comes out, limping badly.
“Ron, what on earth happened to you?”
He tells me the sad tale as we get settled. Last April he was on a ladder that slipped. Ron clung to the house gutter. Which gave way. He fell, shattering bones in his leg. He was in the hospital twelve days, in a cast six months. Now out of it for two months, but still limping. He hopes to fix the limp in time.
After commiserating with him, I said, “You know, I have a character in my current series just like you. He shattered his leg the very same month you did--April--and was in a cast for months. Now he’s out, but he’s walking with a permanent limp. Let’s not let your limp be permanent, okay?”
Although I didn't mention the character's name to Ron, I was talking about S-Man, my science fiction writer in the Kanner Lake Series. He’s called S-Man for his science fiction world—Sauria. Ever since S-Man had his accident, he’s turned to writing science fiction, sitting in Java Joint every day, madly typing on his manuscript. In book #1, (Violet Dawn), S-Man’s still in his cast. In book 2 (Coral Moon), readers see him out of the cast but limping.
After Ron and I are through with business, I chat with his receptionist on the way out. Knowing I’m a novelist, she asks me if I’ve seen the movie Stranger than Fiction. “Yup,” I tell her, “and I laughed in so many places. I loved the movie.” She and I chuckled about how the movie blended fiction and reality, and I bewailed the fact that I wished I’d thought of that plot first.
Finally out the door I go. Get in my car. Start to drive through the parking lot. I pass a BMW and for some unknown reason glance at the license plate. Which reads: S Man
I hit the brake and gape at the plate. Wow. Never seen that before. How totally cool! A real S-Man! Then it dawns on me. The car’s sitting in a handicapped spot. Right next to the door near Ron’s office. And Ron’s last name starts with S ...
I jerk my car into a parking place, jump out and run back inside Ron’s office, eyes wide. I’m spouting to the receptionist before the door even shuts behind me. “I know you’re gonna think I’m a crazy novelist. But that BMW outside with the S Man license plate. Is that Ron’s car?”
She gives me one of those you’re-acting-strange looks. (It’s okay. I’m used to them.) "Yes, that's Ron’s car. He calls himself S-Man."
Twilight Zone music plays in my head: neenie neenie, neenie neenie…
I trot back into Ron’s office, his receptionist on my heels, and tell him the name of my limping character. The three of us look at each other, totally freaked.
I knew when I wrote Violet Dawn I would blend fiction and reality. S-Man’s manuscript, Starfire, was a real manuscript. Simple Pleasures, the gift shop featured in the series, was a real store in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The fictional blog, Scenes and Beans, featured in the books, was also a real blog, with posts written that reflect the fictional events in the books.
But I never thought I’d cause a real S-Man to shatter his leg in April 2006.