Friday, May 06, 2016

The Once Upon Stilettos Reread -- Chapters Seven and Eight

Back to my re-read/commentary on Once Upon Stilettos, now covering chapters 7 and 8.

I remember putting a lot of thought into that fight by the car, including researching exactly what to call the particular wrench in question and figuring out the difference between a tire iron and a lug wrench. Really, hours went into that brief scene. Ethan's overpreparation is somewhat based on me. I don't have quite the amount of stuff he does, but I do have a first-aid kit, an air compressor, and one of those electric battery jumper things in my car at all times. I probably should carry extra water, especially in the summer, and I do when I'm on longer trips where I'll be out in the middle of nowhere.

The party was meant as yet another sign that Ethan just wasn't the right person for Katie. I didn't want the "Mr. Wrong" to be a bad person. Someone can be a great person who even has a lot in common with you and still be the wrong match. He's not being a bad person here. It's just that his idea of fun isn't the same as Katie's. I think there's also some holding back on her part when it comes to the magical world. In this book, she's still trying really hard to be "normal" instead of embracing the wackiness.

Then her parents show up. I want to state for the record that Katie's parents are not my parents. They aren't based on my parents. But there have been things about my parents that inspired them. Like Katie's mother and her bag full of traveling snacks, including fried chicken. That's something of an inside joke with my family. We lived in Germany for a few years when I was growing up because my dad was stationed there with the military. The way we did most of our touring was to take bus tours. We were fairly centrally located in Europe, so we could get on the bus around midnight and arrive at the destination first thing in the morning, spend the day touring, then get on the bus soon after dinner and get back home around midnight. We also took a longer tour, from Germany to Spain, that involved overnight on the bus and then spending about a week there. We learned very quickly that you can't trust the published itinerary. They always mentioned stopping for breakfast or dinner, and that might or might not happen. The driver might be feeling great and just skip the stop. You might stop and the place had already run out of food after several other tour buses had stopped there. You might stop, but there were other buses and a long line, so it was time to leave before you got any food. So we started bringing our own meals. My mom would make fried chicken, and we'd be ready for a picnic wherever we went. There was at least one occasion in which we fed half the bus full of young soldiers after a dinner stop was skipped. Now we joke that we should open a fried chicken restaurant and say that the chicken has been enjoyed internationally. So, of course Katie's mother had to travel to New York with fried chicken in her carry-on bag.

The travel stuff is kind of dated, since I wrote this book in 2004, before they started restricting liquids in carry-on bags and before they started charging for checked bags. Ah, the good old days of air travel.

I can't remember when I made the decision to make Katie's mom immune to magic. I don't think it was in the original plan, but it came about when I was writing. If Katie's trying really hard to stay "normal" and if she has a nosy and intrusive mother who's likely to worry about everything, of course her mother had to see all the other crazy things in New York. This has a real-world parallel to the way tourists see the city and the way locals see it, where tourists notice all the things that are going on while locals just go past it all. The scene in Times Square was at least somewhat inspired by a conversation I had with my editor when I was writing the book. That morning on Good Morning America, which is broadcast from a studio overlooking Times Square, they were talking about the 80-foot tall robot that had been put in Times Square to promote a movie. When my editor called me that afternoon to talk about something, I mentioned the robot. She walked through Times Square on her way to work and didn't remember having seen an 80-foot tall robot. She also probably wouldn't have noticed any fairies, giants, ogres, or anything else odd. Meanwhile, the tourists were all taking pictures of the robot. I experienced a similar thing on a trip, when they had a giant inflatable ape in Times Square. I stood back and observed the number of people who walked past without even looking and the number of people taking pictures of it. I'm not sure what you'd have to put in Times Square for commuters to notice it. I figure that validated the premise of my entire series.

So, now we've got a nosy mom prone to worrying who can see magical stuff and who is in New York at a time when Katie is likely to encounter lots of magical stuff. We're in for some fun.

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