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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Genesis of a Book - E. Ayers ~ A Skeleton at Her Door

I think most of my stories are rooted in real life events. People touch our lives and bring their own stories with them. Sometimes I combine stories from several people to create the characters and the events. All but one story is well disguised. I'll tell you about the one that isn't another time. But when I sat down to write A Skeleton at Her Door, the opening scene came from personal experience. It was an uh-oh moment!

Many years ago when my girls were still young, I headed up a large community Halloween party. We wanted to keep the children safe and contained. We had a huge party planned in the clubhouse for the younger ones, and we created a haunted woods for the older children and teens.

I was lucky to have several very creative adults helping me. One gal was a makeup artist for a local amateur theatre group. She offered her services and I knew she was going to practice ahead of time so that she was ready for Halloween. Her idea was to do it once to create a palette of makeup for each person. Then on the big day, she could do each one based on that person's palette very quickly and without any guesswork.

Anyone who needed special makeup made an appointment with her in the late afternoon in the days leading up Halloween. I'd seen several of the jobs she had done and she was good! It wasn't the big silver screen and no one sat there for six hours. But nighttime, low lighting and special effects lighting…this was going to be incredible!

Several of the adults jumped into their "parts" with enthusiasm. Many bought or made costumes just for this event. They may not have been eight years old getting ready to trick or treat, but each tried to outdo the other. Toss in a couple of electricians and other folks with specialized trades, and I knew we were going to have a terrific haunted woods.

A few days before the big event, there was a knock on my door about 5:30 pm. I opened my door to a skeleton. Omigosh, he was awesome! I dragged him inside and called to my young daughters to come see him.

I knew about the platter with the head, the guy with the chain saw, the headless horseman, and the ghosts and witch that were strung on pulleys in the trees, but I didn't know about the skeleton or where he was. But from the size and shape of the man, I honestly thought it was my neighbor. For starters, he had on the most amazing black and white costume I'd ever seen. This thing must have cost a fortune. It was skintight - think of what an Olympic speed skater might wear. The bones were perfect, right down to the gloves that covered his hands. It was hooded and the face paint…unreal! His lips were painted to resemble teeth and he obviously didn't want to talk.

My twelve-year-old daughter walked around this man and it dawned on me that she was admiring more than just his costume. (He was worth a good drool.) His shoulders were this wide, and he tapered down to a slim waist with a high tight butt on his muscular backside. Even the muscles in his legs showed. Oh yeah, my daughter was way too young to be that appreciative of his physique!

Frustrated, I called the younger daughter a dozen times. She finally came down the stairs and sat there at about eye level with him. She looked at him and informed me that it was not my neighbor. The eye color didn't match.

Panic ripped through me. Who did I just drag into my home? Not that he could conceal a weapon in that costume. But based on muscles alone, he could have probably overpowered us in a heartbeat.

"You're not…?"

He shook his head and indicated that he wanted paper and pen. He wanted the house one block from me. A week later, I found out those folks, on the next block, had a grown daughter, and apparently this guy was her date for a big costume party. I never forgot that evening.

Thinking back on it, he probably never meet her parents, so he had no clue that he wasn't at the right house. It was bitter cold and windy. Without a jacket, he was probably freezing, and he was just as anxious to get out of the elements. The way he left makes me think he wanted to die of embarrassment when he realized he was at the wrong house.

A few years ago, a friend suggested that I write a Halloween story. I rattled the idea around in my head. I don't write ghost stories, thrillers, paranormal, or even mysteries. I tend to think of Halloween as a holiday for children. Then I overheard someone talking about an upcoming charity auction. Single guys were auctioned off for an evening. Really! She pays a nominal fee just to attend and if she bids enough to win her man, she makes the donation to the charity. Then he takes her to dinner. It's a huge fundraiser. That got my mind spinning right back to the young man at my door.

That incident with the skeleton became the opening scene for A Skeleton at Her Door. Like every author, I asked myself what if…? What if the heroine (Angie) had been abused by her first husband and was afraid to trust another man? And what if the hero (Tom) had made his own fair share of mistakes, and every relationship he'd ever had failed? What if she has a daughter (Lissy) and he has custody of his two teen children (Zach and Emily)? What if he were dressed as a skeleton for a charity auction and came to the wrong door? Then I wrote the story.

I'd call it a fall romance. It starts right before Halloween and ends nine days after Thanksgiving. Besides, I love the autumn. It's a magically romantic time of the year.


Books by E. Ayers

Wanting (A River City Novel)
A New Beginning (A River City Novel)
A Challenge (A River City Novel)
Forever (A River City Novel)
A Son (A River City Novel)
A Child's Heart (A River City Novel)

Coming Out of Hiding (novel)
A Fine Line (a novella) *
Mariners Cove (a novella)
Ask Me Again (a novella)
A Skeleton at Her Door (a novella)
A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming (a novella) *
A Cowboy's Kiss in Wyoming (a novella) *
A Love Song in Wyoming (a novella) *
A Calling in Wyoming (a novella) *
Sweetwater Springs Christmas (anthology)

* * sweeter reads


Rose Anderson said...

This was a very cute story. Love that cover too.

E. Ayers said...

Thanks. It's one of my favorite covers.

Fiona McGier said...

Some of my books began as dreams. My paranormal Mayan vampires saga of two books started as 2 separate dreams. In the first one I dreamed I was the heroine, a bi-racial neurobiologist seeking to discover the brain chemical involved with increasing intelligence. I knew that once it was discovered, she became hunted and didn't understand why. I got the first chapter written, but got writer's block during the second so I put it away.

A few weeks later I had another dream in which a tall, very pale man with white-blond hair and a Russian accent told me I was having trouble because I was trying to write her the wrong hero. It had to be him. Then he smiled, showing vampire teeth. I told him I don't write about vampires. He said since i was incorporating Mayans and their prediction of the end of time into the story, I should research the Mayans. I woke up the next day and did,l to discover that every major ceremony in Mayan culture involved blood-letting. Curious, but if their gods were alien vampires, totally understandable. The book. "Prophecy of the Undead", and its sequel, "Maya Prophecy Fulfilled", wrote themselves after that.

I never underestimate my dreams, and I've gotten really good at remembering them.

Joan Reeves said...

OMG! That sounds like something I would do! I can imagine your consternation! *LOL* Trick or Treat indeed.

Kaye Spencer said...

That is a great story. I laughed out loud a couple of times. What a trick to be treated with. I'll bet that young man was so glad to be in costume right then so you couldn't recognize his face later.

momofemmett said...

Keep writing! I love your stories!

E.Ayers said...

If figure that someday, some one will contact me and say that was my husband. LOL At which time I'll tell her she had one fine male body to call hers.

E.Ayers said...

Thanks so much! Keep reading!

E.Ayers said...

Probably 99% of the people in this world are wonderful, decent people. The odds that I dragged in a serial killer are pretty darn slim, but with my luck...

In all the years since that time, I've never seen any costume to compare with the quality of that one. It had to have been custom ordered from someplace special. It was not a one size fits all.

E.Ayers said...

I've never done anything as a result of a dream, but I've heard so many people say that they dream their stories.

A friend thinks she accidentally doubled her cold medicine one night for it was that achy, stuffy head fever kind of cold where you just need some sleep and you're lying there trying to remember if you remembered to take the med. She got up and took it. As she climbed back in bed hubby woke up and asked if she was okay. She said she got up to take her med. He sat up and looked at her. "Just how much was she allowed to take?" "Why?" "Because you took it an hour ago." "Oops!"
She did fall asleep and had a vicious nightmare. Got u the next morning and outlined her murder mystery book which has done very well in sales.
There's something about dreams.

E.Ayers said...

And someday I'll remember to proof what I write before I hit send. LOL

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Love the title! Perfect for Halloween.

E.Ayers said...

Thanks, Jacqueline, and thanks for visiting the EQ blog.