The fourth piece of fiction I self-published is called Opening Doors.
Without spoiling the plot, I’m going to attempt to explain the small, weird things in everyday life that inspire me to make up a whole world for people I invented in my head.
This book opens with a classic meet-cute run-in: two people walking through the same door. It’s been done. It’s a cliche, I know. But the opening scene sort of happened to me one day, and then this story of Russell and Beth just…appeared.
My son is in elementary school, and each year since first grade, I’ve gone to eat lunch with him at school (at his request) once a week. In second grade, I also was his teacher’s Administrative Room Helper (I made copies and collated and laminated things for her). So I spent a lot of time at school that year. One day, when I’d finished my volunteer work and lunch with the boy, I ‘checked out’ of the main office (that’s part of visiting most schools now in the US…you have to ‘check in’ and ‘check out’ through the main office), and when I reached for the door handle to head out to the parking lot, the door opened by itself. It scared the daylights out of me. I audibly gasped and kind of jumped back a little. And this tall man on crutches entered the doorway before I could walk through myself. It was another parent ‘checking in.’ He chuckled at me. I laughed back. I didn’t say anything to him. We both just understood that that automatic door assist he’d hit outside scared me. He said, ‘I get it. My bad,’ and we both moved on with our day.
Well, I’m sure HE moved on with his day. I invented Russell Archer.
The man in the elementary school entry was his beginning. But the rest of him came from the one semester I went away to college. I went to what I’m going to call ‘a basketball school,’ which, for those of you who are unfamiliar with collegiate athletics, is a school with a top tier, Division I men’s basketball program.
Before I met J, the only man who ever opened a door for me was a basketball player at the college I attended. I remembered this because basketball players were celebrities on campus. Well, that and because I have a freakish memory.
As for Beth Patterson…J and I have a 15 inch height difference between us in real life.
And I already detailed how I volunteered for my son’s second grade class. And then…you know…Beth met Russ on the way out that door. And it turned out that…well…that’s a spoiler, so if you have read the book, you’ll probably be able to extrapolate how the little things connected up for me, and if you haven’t read the book…please read the book.
Now for the big, broad inspirations, instead of the weird little quirky ones.
I’d never read a romance about single parents, or blended families.
I’d never read a story about an athlete that didn’t overly glorify their accomplishments in sport and gloss over other facets of their personalities and lives or even go so far as to declare them meaningless or non-existent.
So I decided I’d try to write one.