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Funerals, Book Ideas, and Other Odd Behavior


 Funerals, Book Ideas, and Other Odd Behavior

Whenever people ask me where I get my ideas, I say, “Anywhere and everywhere.” Almost anything can be the seed of an idea for a story. Yet for all that I mine for ideas in every aspect of my life, even I never expected to get an idea at a funeral. But that’s exactly where Broken Fate first appeared in my head.

It was the funeral of a relative who died way too young. Like any sane person, I hate funerals, even more so because I tend to be a snotty crier. Once the tears start, it gets embarrassing. I do everything I can to keep myself together until I can cry in private. So there I was, trying to distract myself from thoughts of death, when I found myself thinking of, well, death. Specifically, what kind of nonsensical, cold, cruel system would claim someone so young?

I remembered the unit on Greek mythology from my freshman English class. That was where I first heard the myth of the three Fates: The first spins human lifelines, the second assigns them their destinies, and the third kills the humans by cutting the lifelines.

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My brain locked on the third Fate. How bad would that job stink, I thought. All you do is kill people, day after day. And you’re immortal, so it never ends. You’re just a cog in the business of life and death. After a while, you wouldn’t even care any more. Your days would just be snip, snip, snip. It’d be like working on a never-ending assembly line.

Beyond the fatigue, you couldn’t possibly have any relationships with humans because loving people you have to kill is insane. “Hey, let me love you so I can kill you and then be sad.” Um, no. But what would happen if one day you did fall in love with a human, and that human had a very short shelf life?

There it was: The idea for Broken Fate. I spent the rest of the service working it out in my head, thus averting the snotty crying crisis.

I wanted to write it down, but that’s not cool in the middle of a funeral. After the service, I reached for my phone, but since we’d carpooled to the service it was still in the car back at the house. I dug around in my purse for a pen but I didn’t have one.

I kept chanting, “Fate, Fate, Fate,” in my head until I caught up to my cousin at the reception.

“I need to use your phone to send myself an email.” I said.

She looked at me strangely, but fortunately my family is great at overlooking weird behavior. She handed over her phone and I sent myself the following:

“Fate, business, crappy job, how could you love someone if you had to kill everyone, person with rapidly approaching expiration date.”

So a novel about death was born at a funeral. Since I can’t separate the funeral from the book, Broken Fate has become a weird, bittersweet, and humorous last memory of my relative. That’s strangely comforting.