The question I'm most often asked is "how often does real life plays a role in your stories?" Okay…so that's not totally true. The real question I'm most often asked is, "Whoa? They let you out of the sanatorium, already?" This is usually followed by a nervous smile, a "Whoops, there's my cell," and then the question-poser
But since that question isn't writing-related, let's just go with the initial question, hmm?
The answer is that real life is always the inspiration behind my stories. I write romantic comedies, and it's been my experience that if you look hard enough at your life, you can always find a punch line in the craziest situations…goodness knows, when it came to romance and me asking a guy out on a date, well, it always made them chuckle. One guy laughed so hard, he actually herniated his diaphragm. I went to see him in the hospital, but as soon as I came in the room, he started laughing all over again, and I was asked to leave…I was also asked to never come back, but I think that was more to do with the Jell-O incident…or it might have been the mix-up with the hospital morgue and operating room…or maybe it was the—wait, what were we talking about, again?
Oh, right. Real life as an inspiration to art.
Below, I've chronicled a couple of real life situations that were twisted and morphed into fictional incidents that took place in my romantic comedies, Shoe-in for Love and The Genie's Curse, which are available in the anthology Sneakers, Sandals & Stilettoes: Fairy-Tales for the Well-Heeled Princess.
Real Life: A couple of years ago (during winter), I happened upon an older lady whose car had slid off the road and was lodged half on the curb…it seemed an easy enough thing to help her (y'know, phone roadside assistance, help her dig), little did I realize she was of the "women can't do anything but wring their hands and hope a man comes along and saves them or failing that, leap into the middle of the road, risking dismemberment and death, in an effort to get a man to stop"…and what started out as a Good Samaritan task ended up being one of the funniest (and most frustrating) efforts as I tried to get away from this woman (and when that didn't work), not lose my so-called cool and toss her in the nearest snow bank.
Fictional application: The Genie's Curse: Aggie goes for a late-night walk, and tries to sort through her unrequited feelings for Dillon. She finds a magic lamp and in an effort to help the kitten-genie, she inadvertently makes a wish: "Sometimes, I just wish I was in Dillon's arms." Unfortunately for Aggie, the lamp is cursed. She ends up in his arms all right, but as a dog! Now, she's got to figure out a way to turn back into a human, save the genie, and win the guy…and she's got to do it all with four paws, no ability to speak, and fighting a disturbing urge to drink out of the toilet…
Real life incident: I'm at a dinner party where I know no one but I'm trying valiantly to make friends and not say anything cringe-worthy (a Herculean task with me, I assure you. Whenever I'm stressed, my Foot In Mouth Disease really comes to the forefront). But things seem to be going well, I'm chatting with this (gigantic!) guy and we get on the subject of archaeology. And I say (because I'm patient zero when it comes to Foot in Mouth Disease) "why is it if you rob a grave that's a day old, you're a criminal but if you take stuff from a grave that's a hundred years old, you're an archaeologist?" And he looks right at me and says, "Uh, I'm an archaeologist."
Groan. Cue cringe and start pulling foot out of mouth.
Fictional application: The whole anxiety mixed with adrenaline really shows up in Shoe in For Love. Nessie's about to lose her job because her company's been taken over, and over the course of breakfast with her sister (at a diner), Nessie tells her everything, like how everyone calls this guy the lumberjack because he hacks jobs and how freaked she is about the job review, what a pill her current manager is…y'know, she dishes all the gossip and insecurities you'd share with a close friend, but never want your boss to know…and then she finds out that Leo (the boss) had been sitting at the next table and heard the whole thing…yup, definitely one of those "note to self. Next time you go into a rant, make sure you know what the new boss looks like so you don't end up spilling your guts in front of him."
There are tons more examples of art imitating real life, but I'm not allowed to talk about those…something about confidentiality and out-of-court settlements…
Sneakers, Sandals & Stilettoes: Fairy-Tales for the Well-Heeled Princess is available on in paperback or e-book.
Natasha Deen is a super-hero in training—hey, one day being a klutz will be a superpower…if she doesn't break anything vital in the meantime. When not tripping over her feet, she writes for The Wild Rose Press and plays butler and cuddler to her furry boys. Check out her website http://www.natashadeen.com/ and drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. She could use the excuse to stop petting the dogs and cats.
Check out her interview at The Romance Reviews review site.