I met my friend Pauline after she read Bullet. I’m not going to give her last name (to protect her identity, because I didn’t tell her I was going to mention her in a blog post), but basically my book spoke to her. It gave her hope but she also said that the character Brad taught her that letting go doesn’t mean someone is throwing in the towel. Pauline’s heartfelt letter meant so much to me and gave me a lot to reflect on, because there were a lot of themes in Bullet and that was definitely one of them. I also wanted to convey the message that sometimes good guys do finish first.
That said, I might be able to write about that kind of thing but it doesn’t mean I always live it. In fact, I’d say letting go is one of the hardest things for me to do and on lots of levels. For instance, I’ve never been able to throw away a single letter my grandmothers wrote me. I have a hard time throwing away my youngest children’s school papers, even though they threaten to overtake my house. If I’m upset about something (really upset) or feel bad, it takes me a long time to get over it.
I carry memories and emotions like a backpack–a heavy one. In most ways, I don’t think that’s good. It’s not a healthy way to live. It’s much better to let things go. Otherwise, they pick at you and pull you and drag you down, keeping you from enjoying your life.
For a writer like me, though, sometimes it can be good, because I can channel those memories and emotions. In Feverish, I remembered what it was like my first time riding on a plane and then I was able to enrich Emily’s character by describing it through her eyes. Using Bullet as an example again, you better believe I tapped into the things I felt and did as a teenager. I could take away the mystery and tell you a couple of scenes that were actually stripped straight from my brain and my own personal experiences, but where’s the fun in that? So many of my books have a little piece of me, and I draw on the personal to enrich my fiction.
Right now, I’m writing Bullet 4.5, Christmas Stalkings, a novella that will appear in an anthology later this fall, and then I’ll finally be writing Seal All Exits, Tangled Web 3, and, man…is that going to be dark. Fortunately, most of that story is out of my realm of experience (sometimes a good thing!). After that, though, I’ll be writing a story I’m itching to get down, and that’s Savage. It’s a zombie story (so that’s completely fiction), but you better believe it’ll be drawing deep from my wells of personal experience. And that’s one good thing too…even though I might hang on to emotions and ideas and negative memories way longer than I should, putting them on paper is cathartic. In a lot of ways, that’s how I too can finally let go.