Unlikely Friendships

Unlikely Friendships

It is no secret that I enjoy both writing and reading. No, that is a gross understatement; I embrace both of those pursuits, for they are gifts to me. Reading has been my education, my hobby, my vacations, my companion, and my solace for as long as I can remember. Writing has been my voice, my counselor, my therapist, and my ticket to freedom since my early teenage years. They have been my constant.

When I read, I fall into the pages. I walk around in worlds different from my own. In the literature that I favor, I meet and greet the protagonists as the good friends that we become by the end (Oh, the bitter end which causes me to part with the companions I have grown to admire and respect!), just as I hide and slink around the antagonists that I dislike and distrust. I take a personal interest in the joys and sorrows that these characters experience and I feel it as if it were my own.

I can remember the first time I read The Scarlet Letter. When I finished, I came downstairs to make some tea and my mother stopped me and asked me if I were feeling okay. I replied that I was fine. “Why do you ask?”

“Because you are so flushed,” she said, peering at my red cheeks.

“Oh,” I remember saying, “that is because I just climbed out of the pages of The Scarlet Letter that I have been rolling around in.” See what I mean? I just cannot help myself.

Flash forward to the present. I am writing more now than I ever have. When I finished my first novel, the YA historical fiction Acts of Courage, I was blessed enough to have Helping Hands Press pick it up. While I was waiting for it to be released, the company encouraged me to write some short stories. “Oh, great,” I thought. “I have nothing going in that area apart from some quick things I had thrown together for school assignments and such.” But I took those scribblings and I worked. And I worked. And the more I worked the more involved I became with my characters. I grew to love their personalities, their quirks, the way they moved through life and the off-beat things they would say. It was as if they grew through my fingers, yet I had nothing to do with it because they were more and more real to me – on their own volition.

I have grown to love all of the alternate lives I have given the characters in my short stories, the fantasy series called “Rats, Pumpkins, and Other Rumors”. The first is self-titled, the second is “The Spinner and the Beast”, the third is titled “A (Sort of) Fairy Tale”, and the fourth and final volume in the series is “So it Goes”. My favorite character by far, however, is Tommy. Tommy makes his debut appearance in volume I, “Rats, Pumpkins, and Other Rumors”, but I could not just leave him there. I had to make sure he ventured forth in the second, and, well, now I think he needs to be present in this third volume, and wait! He must be in the final volume, as well.

Tommy is ‘everyman’. He looks brutishly large like a male sumo-beast, yet is tender and kind like a female elfin creature. He is strong and he is soft; he is simple yet wise. He is…well, ‘everyman’. He is the best of all of us, and I find that I desperately want him as my friend. He is the best kind of companion one could have, and I would so dearly love to be able to wander over to the next kingdom and have a visit. I even have begged my family for one of them to create a “Tommy Doll” for me. No takers. Yet. I have not given up the ship, though!

I dearly love the character-friends I have met through the years of visiting literature, true, but I find that the characters I have created by giving them their unique, alternative life story have wormed their way into my heart for good. I invite you to jump into my series, roll around the pages, and meet some of my characters, many of whom you have met before but never really understood until you have read “Rats, Pumpkins, and Other Rumors”. Who knows, maybe you will fall in love with Tommy, too!

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