Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Strange Truth Behind My Fiction

by Sarah Ballance

I'm a little worried about my next book, but it's not what you might think. The problem is not with the plot. It's not the characterization or even the wow factor. In fact, my concerns aren't with the fiction at all. They're with the truth. And yes, it is stranger than – or, rather, identical to – the fiction.

It all started innocently enough. I submitted my first manuscript, DOWN IN FLAMES, to Noble for consideration on October 10, 2009. Within those pages lurked a surprise pregnancy. Perhaps I shouldn't have bestowed the gift of reproduction on my characters with such diabolical glee because four days later, on October 14, the H and I found out we were expecting baby number six. If you think that's something, think again. Believe it or not, there's more to this story.

My husband and I always planned to have five children. We did exactly that, and the morning after the birth of number five I had my tubes tied. "Tied" as in cut, tied, burned, and DONE. I had to sign the disclaimer, of course (so no child support from the doctor, LOL) but the odds of conception were itty bitty. Just not itty bitty enough. Two years after the tubal we were pregnant and our miracle baby was born a couple of weeks before DOWN IN FLAMES hit the virtual shelves.

Think that's odd? It gets better. Two months after baby number six joined our family, I had surgery to have my tubes removed. (There's still a failure rate, if you wondered.) After the surgery, my doctor shared some interesting news. My tubes didn't grow together end to end like you might expect. Instead, they fused side by side, which is incredible considering the center length was removed on the first go round. But in terms of the two surprise pregnancies – mine and my character's – I chalked it up to a coincidence. (Meanwhile, my husband requested I never again mention pregnancy in a book.)

Then the plot thickened.

My second novel, RUN TO YOU, is a romantic suspense. It's no secret the story is set on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, but what you may not know is there are two rather grisly murders which take place in very specific ways. The scene of the crime, the murder weapon, and the method of attack are identical in both killings. With the novel set pretty much in my back yard (read the true story-behind-the-story here: Real Life Romance and Murder) the setting didn't require much of an imagination. Still, I've lived here 33 years and not once have I ever heard of the attack I described happening locally. (Truth be told, I've not heard of it at all but I'm sure it's happened.)

Well, you guessed it. Eight days after I finished my pre-submission edits, the local news broke the story of a tourist who was attacked on the beach. Same weapon, same method of assault, same injury. She survived and eventually recovered – thank goodness – but the other details of the crime are almost identical.

Now I'm neck deep in murder with my new romantic suspense – guns slinging, bodies falling, the whole shebang – and there's a sense of "triple dog dare" hanging over this manuscript. Oh, I won't hold back, but I can't help but wonder. Still, there's one thing you can count on, dear readers, and that is this.

No one is going to end up pregnant.

Want a sneak peek at my new romantic suspense UNFORGIVEN? Head over to my blog for contest details and your chance to win a great prize pack. Contest open to entries through Tuesday, January 18.


Anonymous said...

I hear you! When I wrote about a fire in Annapolis, a couple of days later, 3 historic buildings were damaged in a fire. That was in like 2004-5. Last year, I wrote about a California earthquake. Every time I wrote/edited/added to that scene, the night I did so, the earth shook somewhere in the world. When I moved the story along to Wyoming and wrote about a prairie fire, 2500 acres of forest burned in my home state of Michigan. I started a story last August (about to be published in March) about a hurricane in NC, where my daughter lives....yep, one hit as I was writing. When I write about elemental disasters (earth/wind/fire/water), something eerily similar happens around the time I write/edit. My friends tease that I should write about them winning the lottery to see if that would happen.

Sarah Ballance said...

@Kay: That is EXACTLY what my crit partner asked me to do - write about her winning the lottery! LOL. And as a resident of the mid-Atlantic coast, I am going to respectfully ask you to steer the hurricanes elsewhere. ;c) Thanks so much for your comment and your story. There's a lot of relief in knowing I'm not the only one!

C. Zampa said...

Ay-ay-ay! Can I sign a form that releases me from ever being a character in your novels? LOL! Or, if I am, can I be a millionaress on a yacht off the coast of Greece? pregnancies, no knives, no guns,

Interesting experience, Sarah Ballance! Thank you for sharing! Looking forward to Unforgiven!

C. Margery Kempe said...

Yeah, I'm with CZ -- can you write a story where I win the lottery?

Terrific post!

Sarah Ballance said...

@Zampa: The waters of Greece sound DIVINE! Can't I just write you in as my honored guest? =c) What worries me (uh, you) is UNFORGIVEN is set a lot closer to you than RUN TO YOU! *Giggle*

Sarah Ballance said...

@CMK - Thank you! I think I need to start writing down names for a shared jackpot. ;c)

AllureVanSanz said...

How about a post where a struggling author finally gets "the call" from her agent? If the character's name happens to be Allure, you wouldn't hear me complaining. LOL

I'm suddenly eyeballing my BC pills btw.

All my best,

Melissa Pickering said...

Sarah, please write me to the French Rivera. Thank you.

Better yet.... write me to the Highlands somewhere, and make a certain someone exist.

Sarah Ballance said...

@Allure - I LAUGH at BCP! To think, I never took any because I didn't think they'd work. Snicker. (If being disassembled doesn't work, I GIVE UP!) And that's a great story idea, too. *grin*

Sarah Ballance said...

@Melissa - YUM! If I put you in the Highlands with a certain someone, you'd better taken notes for your next novel!

Anonymous said...

Terrific post, Sarah! You always make me laugh. Your books sound wonderful and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we see your latest work up on the shelves.
Tam :)

Sarah Ballance said...

Aw, thanks Tam! *Blush* From your fingers to my ... er, fingers. I need to get a writin'! (That's my southern accent, ya'll.)

Leanne Dyck said...

Plot line for your next book: Talented author, mother of six writes best seller and wins lottery. : )

Sarah Ballance said...

@Leanne - Nice to see you over here! I think you're on to something there, LOL. Thanks for the compliment AND the idea! *Grin*