Did you ever pick up a book and find that you were one of the characters? Some of our friends have. Although many of our characters are amalgamates of people we know, some stories are made up of characters who are pretty much based on a single person.
One of those stories is The Bar, one of the stories in Mind of a Mad Man. Mind of a Mad Man is our darkest book and it arose from the ashes of a dark time in our lives. We had been forced to get out of the business of selling games due to an economic downturn, complicated by medical issues. Although we didn't miss the hassle of running a retail business, we did miss many of our customers. In a small town, a business like that has regulars -- people you not only recognize on the street, but genuinely care about. The Bar is about some of those people and, although the events in the story are fictionalized, the characters are real people who grieve and struggle and dream.
The Bar is about loss, but it is also about love. When John wrote the story, I had a real problem with how closely the characters in it resembled real people. We are different that way -- I like to keep the identity of my characters obfuscated. He comes right out and writes them how they are -- even uses real names sometimes. He also puts himself in the story. I'm there too, but I made him change my name to protect the not-so-innocent. There...now it's out in the open. Are you happy, John?
Challenge: For those who gamed at Jester's Cards and Stuff, who can identify any of the characters on the cover? I'll accept either character or player name. Anyone who correctly identifies a character wins a free copy of Mind of a Mad Man. For those who didn't....the cover is based on two roleplaying games. I'll send out a coupon for a free ebook to anyone who can name one of those games.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Swampy's a fun character to write about, in part because he's such a nice quirky guy with a dialect all his own, but also because his character was partly inspired by my father-in-law. One story in particular was based on a real-life event. Dad used to raise pigs. He was proud of those pigs and always wanted to show off the piglets when we'd go to visit. Now sows are typically mean, especially when they have little ones suckling on them, but Dad would climb right in the pen with the sow and pluck a piglet off her teat to show it off. The sow never so much as gave him a second glance.
This scene in Rips in the Weave was inspired by Dad's empathy with animals:
Misha watched the wiry man climb over the wooden fence into the huge black sow’s pen. She was nervous for the man, although she barely knew him. Her daddy had told stories about the pigs he’d had to feed as a boy, before he was set free and took to the river. “Won’t she hurt you?” she asked.
“Naw. Mabel trusts ol’ Swampy, don’t ya girl?”
The sow raised her head and grunted.
Swampy bent down and plucked a pink piglet from the suckling pile, holding it by its feet. The piglet squealed. “This one’s the runt. I reckon I’ll keep her though. See that black spot on her rear, shaped just like a rabbit’s foot? Means she’s a lucky one. Fairies near got when she was born. If it’ hain’t been for ol’ Boo she’d be gone.”
“She’s cute.” Misha leaned closer. “Can I touch her?”
“Don’t expect she’ll care. She likes her belly scratched.” Swampy cradled the piglet in his arms like a baby and scratched its belly. The piglet squirmed a little. He walked over to the fence and held her close so Misha could scratch her. The sow grunted behind him. “Now you jes relax, Mabel. This here nymph won’t hurt your babe.”
Misha scratched the piglet’s belly, amazed at the softness of her skin. The piglet stopped squirming and settled down.
“I reckon she likes you,” Swampy said.“I like her too.” Misha smiled gently.
You can get Rips in the Weave and From the Gator's Mouth FREE this week only on Smashwords in celebration of Read an Ebook week. Swampy is an important character in both of these books. Here are links to the books in the promotion.