Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Stephen King moment

I recently had an bizarre experience. A couple of weeks ago, I met one of my characters in real life. I call this my Stephen King moment. In his book On Writing, King writes about the accident when he was hit by a car. He goes on to describe the maniac that had been driving the car. He writes, “ occurs to me that I have nearly been killed by a character right out of one of my own novels.”

A friend organizes events for a living and a couple of weeks ago I was helping her, checking people in to an art festival, when tall blond guy came up and shook my hand. His name is Mark. I’d exchanged emails with him but this was the first time we’d met in person, and it dawned on me later that he could be my character Sandy come to life. In my book, Sandy is the go-to guy for my team of ghost hunters. He’s resourceful, perennially good-natured and a bit of a mystery, his only problem being a morbid fear of the paranormal. I don’t know if Mark shares Sandy’s fear of ghosts, but he’s as laid-back and charming a person as you could hope to meet, with a cheerful smile and an unassuming demeanor. He’s also handsome, in a blond surfer-dude sort of way.

Sandy was one of my first characters. I created him years ago, before I even had a story. So to meet someone that looks and acts pretty much just as I’d imagined him was a little bit surreal, to say the least. I didn’t share this revelation with my new acquaintance for fear he’d take it the wrong way, but I imagine the opportunity for an author to spy on one’s own characters doesn’t present itself every day. So if he noticed me lurking about he didn’t seem to take offense. I wouldn’t want my real-life Sandy to think I’m some kind of stalker. But meeting him was enlightening, a lot of fun, and--happily--rather a more pleasant experience than Stephen King’s.

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