The year was 2006 and the rejuvenating promise of Spring was in the air. I was visiting family and friends in my former stomping grounds of Omaha, Nebraska. There were many sights and sounds to experience, but soon all of that weekend would be centered on one night...and one word.
After settling into my weekend accommodations, I ventured out into the city, literally just around the corner, to visit Jody. Jody has been given many names over the years (partner in crime; the elusive Jody; the ol' standby; Debbie A; my muse) but first and foremost she has been called my friend.
That fateful Friday took us to a movie/music store, a book store, a department store's brassiere section, a restaurant (probably Spaghetti Works) and then finally back to Jody's apartment. Once there, we stretched out on individual couches as a refreshing breeze wafted through her open patio door. Hydrating and talking commenced, with a myriad of shifting-changing subjects to entertain our minds. Night and conversation dutifully marched on, leaving us in the dim darkness of a distant streetlamp. This is when the subject of soap operas was brought to light.
We spoke of the fun things about soaps, along with the eye-rolling things. At the time, I was watching One Life to Live fairly faithfully and barely keeping up on General Hospital. Jody was not watching any soap at the time, but she freely admitted to once being hooked on suds, specifically The Bold and the Beautiful. She mentioned a uniquely named character and how annoying it was when an overly emotional female character would cry out his name...
Whip sent me into a paroxysm of laughter. In hindsight, it was not only the unique name, but also Jody's interpretation of a needy soap character that caused my outburst. I was laughing so hard that I nearly spilled my glass of water, and I continued sporadically laughing until it was bedtime. Jody offered me a couch, but I had a bed waiting for me, literally just around the corner.
Back at my weekend accommodations, I tucked myself in and tried to fall asleep, but my mind had other plans. I kept hearing Jody's Oh, Whip, which sent me back into hysterics until the gears in my head started turning. What could I name a character which would be a similar name to Whip, but wouldn't be Whip? I asked myself. The answer came quickly...
Crop, as in riding crop.
Another paroxysm of laughter drove me out of bed to the light switch and my luggage, where I kept a handy little notebook. I quickly wrote the name Crop, but I knew he needed a last name. Within seconds, Hoppins was written down, and I knew he was a stable boy...NO...a former stable boy! Then I figured he needed a love interest, so Cheryl was created, and I knew she was from a rich family. A rich family with the most pretentious sounding last name I could think of...Van Der Van! A great love affair needs a complication and this came in the intriguing name of Luchia Diego, who I knew was married, bored, but relished her status in society. Therefore, -Smith was soon attached to her last name. Last, but certainly not least, I knew a situation such as this needed a character who knows more than he is letting on. A gardener...NO...a one-armed gardener! A one-armed gardener named Dinkel!
With gleeful, possibly maniacal laughter, the initial seeds of Dark Excursions were planted and taking root in my soon slumbering mind. The weekend quickly passed and I arrived home with a plan to write one chapter for Jody as a cheeky wink and nod to our late night soap talk. After finishing that first chapter, I realized Dinkel was absent and unmentioned, which I considered a terrible slight on my part. So I wrote a second chapter, but then I wondered about Cheryl's mother, who had been discussed in an overbearing, omnipresent way. Once a third chapter was completed, I knew I had to write more because I wanted to know more about these emotionally damaged characters and the tightly controlled universe they inhabited.
Now, after years of writing, editing, failed attempts at finding a literary agent, more editing, e-books, and yet even more editing, a print edition of Dark Excursions at long last became available on April 4, 2015. Seeing my childhood dream of being a published author (albeit self-published) is exciting and satisfying. Maybe I didn't go through traditional channels, but I'm utterly fine with this because I have rarely been traditional.
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P.S. Dark Excursions is still available as an e-book serial.
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