A few years back a close friend gave me a T-shirt on which the words "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel" were written. Turns out, that's true. I see the world in two dimensions, simultaneously, as it is and that which I imagine it could be. Storytelling, for me, is the willful exaggeration of pretty much anything having the potential to be true.
I'm a news junkie and former journalist, so I've got tons of life's snippets rambling around in my imagination. One at a time an idea percolates to the surface, and I'm overtaken by an impulse to write a story around it. Sometimes the stories grow out of innocuous moments, like chance meetings or random sightings of uneventful events and ordinary people. Every dog walker has a story, and I’m always at the ready to give them one.
The story, EVEN IF A Truth Condemns Us, is not true. Painfully, however, within its pages is a fictional characterization of a man with whom I was very close, an international creative known as the Artist TMNK aka Nobody. I began writing the story when “Artist Nobody” was alive and finished it after his death in September 2016. Yes, he died in the same month that his character perished in EVEN IF. The intersection of the living and the fictitious was untenable. I took a much needed seven-month break from the story and was pressed back into finishing EVEN IF by my editor, Susan Cole.
The stories in Saint Gabriel's Girls haven't a single morsel of truth within them, Maybe there is a moral of truth, especially the part when I tell you that the Artist Nobody was good at math. And, there was a boarding school in Kearney, New Jersey. And a real "Aunt Annie Mae" lived in a place called "Goosefarm." Of course, and most regrettably, scores of women, men, and children have endured the kind of abuse Concetta suffers in "Background Music."
The short story "Swimming in Shallow Water” isn't true, either. Its protagonist, Miss Savannah, however, is based on an interesting elderly woman I knew, who was prone to wandering. Another short story, "Pooched," pokes fun of a secluded beachfront neighborhood, called Casey Key, where Stephen King is a part-time resident and my close friends his neighbors.
There you have it. It doesn't take much to set my imagination flowing. So, as my friend (the one who lives on the Key) predicted with that T-shirt, "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel"--or maybe a short story.
Have a beautiful day. I'll be watching.