May is "Short Story Month."
Today marks the end of my month of short fiction discussion. I hope you enjoyed the tour of BOYS OF SUMMER, THE TOUCH OF THE SEA, and SWEAT, as well as my scattered thoughts for the last couple of days. The giveaway was fun and I was stunned at the three hundred plus entries for the SWEAT giveaway (holy crap!) on Goodreads. I'll be mailing off copies to the two winners tomorrow.
I wanted to touch on one last thing that I loved about short fiction before the month closed: the homage. Kind of like Easter Eggs in a DVD, I love tucking in little "thank you" messages to the awesome people in my life. In the three stories I spoke about over this month have messages like that tucked inside them.
In BOYS OF SUMMER, I wanted to write about a young man who has a wonderful family vacation tradition. Ryan loves the lake, and the friends he's made there. Three families, the wives of which have known each other for years, go to the same lakeside cabins at the end of every summer. This set-up is an experience that's completely alien to me on pretty much every level. I don't have childhood friends that I see on any basis. My family didn't have any sort of traditional vacations. My mother didn't have childhood friends, and we moved and moved and moved. Also, both Ryan (and the young man he meets, Will), have amazing parents who are supportive and wonderful. So, yeah.
Will's parents are named after my husband's parents. When I wanted to make sure I had the tone of summer cabin vacations right, I asked Barb and Jenn - two of Dan's oldest friends - about it. They'd had childhood cabins, and so I named one of Ryan's friends after Barb. Ryan's other friend - Angie - is also named for the wife of one of Dan's closest friends, who was there the first time I went over to Dan's house with a bouquet of flowers on a dinner date. The fictitious Angie and Barb also have boyfriends named after their respective husbands. Similarly, Ryan's track coach, Ms. Fletch, is named after Jen's daughter, a young woman who I personally feel represents everything wonderful about the new generation. The coach offers to help Ryan set up a Gay-Straight-Alliance, something the real-world Fletch helps maintain in her high school.
In THE TOUCH OF THE SEA, my story is about a young man returning to the fictional town of Fuca, British Columbia (roughly based on a place my husband and I went for our honeymoon) and facing the mystical connection he has with the ocean - a connection that took his mother and made his father move him inland. He's parentless (something I've been told I do a bit too much, and now try to be more conscious about) and I wanted to take a moment to shout out to a woman who was absolutely amazing when I needed to figure out a way to deal with university when things were at their worst with my family. So I named his former teacher (now the mayor of Fuca) after this wonderful woman. I also named one of his friends after my friend Laurie, because the character needed a friend willing to say "Dude, you're being an ass!" and it made me think of her.
In SWEAT, I got to return an honor with one of my stories. In RIDING THE RAILS, Jeffrey Ricker was kind enough to name two characters after myself and my husband, so I did the same in my hockey story (partly also because I believe Mr. Ricker has a bit of a crush on a particular hockey player, the name of which I've completely forgotten). I also tipped my hat to the wonderful Greg Herren with a tongue-in-cheek character name and nickname combo, mentioned my friend and former co-worker Scott as a hockey fan (he's one of the only friends I have who can make sports sound interesting) and also put in a coworker named Becky (after Becky Cochrane) who slugged a guy for being a sexist idiot (the fictional Becky, I mean, not the real one.)
None of those Easter Eggs need to be known for the story to work, but I like putting them in there. It's also a great way to avoid having to come up with names for characters - something I consistently struggle with.
And that's the end of "Short Story Month." Thanks for reading.