One incident in my first book, Giving Up the Ghost, is based on a true event.
In truth, most of what happens in the novel is made up, but sometimes influenced by the odd real-life event. The characters are mostly invented, but influenced by real-life people.
Some people have told me they see me in Poppy. Perhaps. Some of me is in there, but she's more outspoken and I think more confident than I ever was at that age. (Also, enviously, thinner, and with better hair.)
Emily, the owner of Emily's Eatery, is fictional, but I loved the idea of a coffee shop owner who instinctively knows what her customers want. (I did base her in appearance on another Emily I know, who's a tall, sunny blonde who I think customers would be happy to shoot the breeze with for a few minutes while waiting on their daily java and scone.)
Fiona is based on my mother, however. She's not a clone of her, but she damn well likes her sparkles and being blonde and her cigarettes. She's also an unfiltered personality, for the most part. And Tom Wheeler is loosely based on my mom's on-again, off-again boyfriend from the years we lived in Gould City, Michigan. Real-world Tom was a feisty match for my feisty mother, and they sparred with humor and affection. And yes, the real Tom loved sweets as much as the fictional version. At more than one event I had been sent to the dessert table to procure him another piece of cake or slice of pie, to bring his total sweets intake to two, three, and even four servings.
But, back to the real event.
It's not as exciting as what's in the book (I hope). It happened when I was maybe eight years old.
I only heard about it after the fact.
For the novel I played up the zaniness and took it to 11 (thanks, Spinal Tap). There was a lot of humor in the original drunken St. Patrick's Day occurrence, but my mother was not left abandoned by the roadside. She was not wearing a sequined dress. And she most certainly wasn't picked up by one of the town gossips.
I only heard the story -- via plentiful retellings -- but if memory serves correct my mother was merely a passenger in Tom's truck or car while he took a leak alongside U.S. 2 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
I believe they'd been out to check out a lead on a truck, or perhaps some fishing equipment. That part isn't important. But Tom had started drinking early that day -- I believe my mother was serving as designated driver -- and he was plenty sauced by the time they returned home that afternoon.
Tom, his bladder full of beer and whiskey, decided he wasn't going to wait.
My mother pulled over to the side of the highway, he stepped outside and relieved himself.
He also was wearing a derby hat, or a bowler hat, because, well, why not?
Cars honked their horns as they whizzed by, and Tom peed and tipped his hat to all passing traffic.
In my book, it's retold over beers at a dive bar and I wanted it there because one, I thought the story was funny and a way to show something of Fiona and Tom's natures, but it also was a fork in the road for Tom. Would he choose whiskey or would he choose Fiona? (Spoiler alert: He chose Fiona.)
And I can never see a derby hat without thinking of that one St. Patrick's Day. Tom, at this point, is long gone (RIP), but I can still hear him singing an Irish tune and calling my mother an ornery woman, all while he has a twinkle in his eye.
I'm Magenta Wilde, author of the Poppy Blue paranormal fantasy series, and the forthcoming Happily Hereafter series. Hint: It involves ghosts.