I readily admit to swiping character names from my real life. If I meet you and I like your name, I’ll likely use it someday in a book. But my real life experiences almost never end up in a book, probably because my real life isn’t nearly as interesting as my characters’ lives.
I’ve never had a boyfriend who married a waitress from a fifties diner. I don’t have a cat that can walk though walls. I haven’t stumbled over as many dead bodies as Kathleen Paulson in the Magical Cats Mysteries. I haven’t stumbled over any at all. But this time, in A Midwinter’s Tail, something from my real life does make it into the story.
Businessman Burtis Chapman’s ex-wife, Dayna returns to Mayville Heights, and during a reception at the Stratton Theatre she has a severe allergic reaction to something she ate. Writing that scene I literally had goose bumps, because I was remembering a time, several years ago when my wonderful next-door neighbor had a life threatening allergic reaction to peanuts. I can hear the ambulance wailing onto our street, see the paramedics running with their gear into her house and then a few long minutes later, bringing her out, strapped to a stretcher. What has stayed vividly in my mind is her face, so swollen that if I hadn’t known who it was, I never would have recognized her.
I remember how fear seemed to thrust a hand into my chest and squeeze. I remember silently saying a prayer for everything to be well while the fear whispered maybe it wouldn’t be. And I remember the ear-to-ear grin on my husband’s face when the phone finally rang with the news that she was all right.
My neighbor turned eighty-nine just over a month ago. She’s still has more energy than women half her age. I love hearing the sound of her laugh float across the lawn. She does everything she ever did. The only difference is now she carries an Epi-pen everywhere she goes.
What happens to Dayna Chapman after her allergic reaction? You’ll have to check out A Midwinter’s Tail to find out for sure. And if you do, I’d love to hear what you think of the story.
The publisher has generously offered a copy of A Midwinter's Tail to one of my readers. Please comment below before midnight on November 12, 2014. Entries from the US only, please.