When Characters Wander Off

I don’t mean in the literary sense, where you the writer, on impulse, let the characters turn down that narrow lane, or jump on the bus to Ithaca, New York even though that’s nowhere in the plot, or even on impulse suddenly kiss the character they’re talking to even though you, as the writer, never planned for a love relationship there.

I mean literally, like that time Erin and Trevian, the main characters of Aluminum Leaves, “stowed away” in someone’s luggage (taking the book with them) and went on a journey.

Those scamps!

Claire Fortier is an artist who lives near Fort Bragg. She is married to Doug Fortier, who has retired from a tech job. Doug and Claire are both very involved with the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. Doug has attended for several years; as a volunteer he has done many things to assist the conference, including some design work and support of their website. Claire was on the board of the conference for a year, and has volunteered as a room elf. I met them through the conference.

Claire asked the Gallery Bookshop to order her a copy of Aluminum Leaves. It came, and she set it aside to read. Some friends came up to visit, and the husband was looking for something to read. Claire loaned him the book. After they left, she looked for it and couldn’t find it. She had no idea where it had gone, but a quick phone call soon located the wandering book. When the friends mailed it back, and they did, that note was inside.

Claire shared it with me over dinner last week. I’m keeping it forever. Seriously, I fondly imagine that it will go into the Marion Deeds Collection, and be left to a university someday.

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