Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ask Howard and Doll...

“Sometimes I think it would be easier to hurl epithets, cast aspersions, and simply engage in plain old name-calling,” Howard said, shutting his laptop down.

“Then you’d be just like everyone else,” Doll replied as she poured his first glass of cognac for the evening.

“I prefer logical, reasonable discourse, but some days I fear the art of civilized disagreement has gone the way of the dodo.” Howard reached for his glass. “Cheers.”

“Can we get back to the interview?” I asked the two of them.

People had been asking how I came to write the series of books featuring The Blenders, a group of senior citizens who live in a trailer park on the east coast of Florida and I was trying to get two of the main characters to help me explain. Unfortunately, like many old people, they had their own agenda.

The original book The Prince of Keegan Bay was triggered by my own experience when I saw a woman at the far end of the mobile home park where I lived carrying a baby into her house. As anyone under 55 was not allowed in this senior community, naturally I was curious. Before I said anything to anyone, I wanted to know her story, so I went down to the pool the following morning and as I exercised in the water, listened to the talk around the tables where the non-swimming smokers convened every day.

Her story turned out to be a tragic one that to this day is heartbreaking to think about. Instead of relating that tale, I turned my observation into a “what-if” and made the clandestine infant a refugee from a terrorist organization? Hmm. His American mother married a middle-eastern prince. Prince died, leaving young mother with heir to the throne. And so the story grew.

Who better to preserve the secrecy of the baby’s presence in the park than an intrepid set of senior citizens who use all their life’s skills to protect him? Michael was a logistics specialist in the Marine Corps, John and Pete are carpenters, the women are nearly all capable mothers and grandmothers. Howard is the oldest at ninety-one, fashioned after two WWII veterans living in the park. And all the members of the newly formed group called The Blenders need something to occupy their time.

Back to Howard. I had been searching for an ending to their most recent adventure when I decided on doing an interview with them to see how they would handle the situation without me present. In the middle of our conversation Howard decided to go on line. He often checks on social media to take the pulse of the country. What he saw displeased him.

“I can’t have you hurling epithets to rescue Al and Larry. We need a plan,” I said.

“Bomb the place,” he grumbled as he sniffed the cognac before taking his first sip.

I pinched my lips and scowled at him. “You’re no help. What if they bomb the wrong place? They could kill them.”
“You’re the writer, make sure they don’t.”

“I can pay the bribe or ransom and they can go home,” Doll offered.

“That’s boring,” I said.

“Then go with Howard’s idea. Bomb the place.”

Ah, the joy of writing.

How do you resolve your writing dilemmas? Conversations with your characters? Playing computer games while awaiting a flash of brilliance? Planting the question in your head before going to sleep in the hopes that the solution will come in a dream?

Veronica Helen Hart lives and works in a private home now, having left The Blenders community shortly after the first book was published. Not that she didn't love them, but being around them distracted from her writing.