Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Case of Mistaken Identity

"So where do you get your ideas?"

Yes, it's the most-asked question any author gets. My answer: Everywhere. And it's true. Anything can spark the imagination and get a story idea burning. One never knows when the creativity bug will bite and something as mundane as waiting too long at the doctor's office will get the gears turning and the plot machine fired up.

Recently, I had just such an event happen. Not that it was mundane--it was anything but that--but it got me thinking about crimes and characters and intrigue and suspense.

I received a letter in the mail from our local court requesting my appearance at a rescheduled hearing. The way the letter read, I was being charged with DUI, possession of drugs, an expired license, and a slew of other infractions, including having "improper" tires on my vehicle.

I knew they couldn't be true, I would never put improper tires on my car.

At first I thought it must be a misunderstanding, a case of mistaken identity or maybe identity theft. So I headed over to the courthouse to straighten the whole thing out. The clerk was very obstinate and an argument ensued. I lost it; I'm sorry, I just did. Said things I would normally never say, cursed, almost climbed over the counter to get to her. As a result, I was arrested and placed in a holding cell until the whole matter could be settled. About an hour later a police officer came in and said the charges stood and they were moving me to the county jail until the hearing date.

Okay, that last part is made up. I'm sorry for leading you on but I wanted to show how easily reality can slip into fantasy.

I did go to the court  and the clerk (who was very nice and said I looked like Michael J. Fox) did straighten things out. I'm to appear as a witness. A couple months ago I witnessed an accident where a woman ran a stop sign and caused a collision. I pulled over, checked to see if everyone involved was all right (which they were), and waited for the police officer to arrive to give my statement. Now, apparently they need my testimony in court. This should be interesting.

So I wanted my readers to get a taste of what it's like to take these every day occurances and turn them into a story. I ran a contest where readers could "finish the story" from the point of someone receiving a letter saying they've been charged with a bunch of bogus offences.

The winner would co-author a short story with me about just such a thing happening.

The response was incredible and in the end I had my winner: Aaron Reed, a pastor in Ohio. Aaron and I will write and e-publish a short story that will be released before the end of the year. Watch for it!

So . . . where do you get your ideas?

1 comment:

Jillian Kent said...

You're too funny. We writers have a tenuous hold on reality. Be careful not to slip of the edge. There's an idea! :)

I've worked in the mental health field for a zillion years. A lot of my ideas stem from something that might happen today related to psychology and psychiatry and then I whip it back to the 1800's and what if. What if someone escaped from a lunatic asylum in 1817? And then I run with it. Great fun!