Tuesday, October 25, 2011

True Story



I’ve written, the last couple weeks, about where I got the idea for my book.  I said I was writing what I know.  In retrospect, I suppose it is a little misleading to say the events in my story are loosely based on my own life experiences.  Yes, I live in the Pacific Northwest (God’s country without a doubt).  Yes, I was in the Navy (as was my main character).  And, just like “Christine,” I too have an over active imagination sprinkled liberally with pessimism and dabbled with paranoia.  But, unlike poor Christine, I have never been hiking alone in the remote wilderness when I stumbled across a fresh murder scene.  Although, I have wondered what I would do if I ever did.  Hence the idea for my book.
(Wow, I never before noticed her name was an unintentional nod to the great Stephen King…and classic cars, both of whom I adore).
A couple weeks ago, I received a thought provoking blog comment from one Chuck Barrett (http://chuckbarrettbooks.com/).  After he assured me that fishing in the pool of one’s own past for ideas is not a cop-out, he added, “How many horror writers actually experienced all that slashing?  Most just reached into their soul and conjured something that had excited their imagination.” 
Well, then…that’s exactly what I did.  Let me tell you how my story developed.  How something “excited my imagination.” 
Out for a walk along a desolate country road, I was distressed by all the garbage in the ditches.  I saw a little of everything.  I joked that all the sins of society were present and accounted for - alcohol, cigarettes, fast food and even a porno.  This was when my horror writer's imagination took over and saw a foot, a severed human foot, lying in the ditch next to one of the abandoned beer bottles.  In real life, I realized I was the only one around.  Indeed, nothing moved as far as my eyes could see.  The only sound was the crackle of a white plastic shopping bag trapped against a fence post.  I was actually feeling a little spooked by my own scenario when a beige, early 80’s model Ford LTD drove up behind me far slower than the posted speed limit.  Cigarette smoke and the thump of the stereo poured out of the open window as it rolled by. 
This set the story into overdrive.  Find a severed body part and then the murderer finds me.  Imagine how I felt when the same car (in real life) drove back by me a second time a few minutes later.  And, maybe a half hour later, would you believe a third time and that I saw it turn DOWN THE ROAD TO MY HOUSE?  Do you think I wanted to go home?  But, I convinced myself the guy was lost or something and I shouldn’t meld an albeit strange coincidence into my fake finding of the foot. 
After much effort, I was able to convince myself to abandon my delusion and turn onto the two-lane, unmarked road off of which several private drives wind back into the woods.  The car was nowhere to be seen.  I felt silly.  About a mile down the road, I made the final turn onto the dead-end lane that leads to only four driveways – one of which was mine - and saw the car idling in the drive at the far end.  He saw me (or not) and left, hurrying past me for the fourth and final time.  At this juncture, I'd say my fears were justified (and I jotted down his license plate).  But, that was it.  That's all it took.  The story was born.

Yes, the “bad guy” in my book drives a white Ford LTD although he looks little like the teen in the car.  But no, thank God, I haven’t seen him again…or any dismembered body parts.

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