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January 6, 2011-January 6, 2012


On tomorrow's date, exactly one year ago, I wrote the first words to what I had originally thought would be a short story. It was to be a quick exercise to get back into writing. Yeah, that didn't turn out the way I thought. Instead, it turned into a full length novel that is currently one third rough drafted.

Last winter was harsh, hence why winter is a huge motif. I remember scooping endlessly, putting ice melt down, bitter wind biting at me. I was outside, alone with my thoughts, teased by an idea that had been quietly brewing since late October-early November. The longer I was outside, trying to clear my docks in time for my daily UPS delivery, the more it started to form into something more concrete.

I had a vague idea: a guy near death becomes an angry spirit upon actual death. He had no face, no name, no form. He was just this notion of a "what if" from the Supernatural episode "In My Time of Dying."

(Spoilers for those not caught up on series) In that episode, Dean Winchester is hanging onto life by a mere thread with a reaper chasing him down. He ends up sitting with his reaper, Tessa, discussing his options. He can either A) go with her and find out what awaits in the afterlife or B) stay here and become the very thing he hunts, a vengeful spirit. Just as he chooses option A, he is saved by the deal his father made in order to save Dean. Instead, it is John that dies. I ruminated a lot about what would have happened had Dean chose the second option. What makes someone an angry spirit? How are they made? So it swirled in my head for a couple months.

I thought about possibly doing the easy option, to turn it into a fanfic. I figured why not. My character, on the other hand, had a different plan all together. The longer I let it stew, the more it became obvious that I had an original story building.

Then, as I stood outside scooping, I heard a name: Jared. Simply explainable as one of the actors on Supernatural is named that, but my character insisted that it was his name, too. He still had no face, but he did have a name. I mused upon it some more, chopping resistant ice and snow, letting the quiet guide me. Of course, as I was just getting heavily into Supernatural, I flirted at first with the idea of maybe just saying the hell with it and choosing Jared Padalecki as my model. I mused all day on it, asked my friend that I had been sharing the show with what she thought and she said it couldn't hurt. So, I decided what the heck, why not. Not like Jared Padalecki would really ever read it, after all. Now he had a name AND a face.

Now that I had a character with a name and a face, I had to figure out just who this guy was. I started with his last name. He became Jared Oaks. I then spent a month sketching out a "short story" that would revolve around him getting killed and becoming a spirit. That's where I started to run into problems. How do I "kill" a 6'5" 200+ lb man without outright killing him in one blow? Guns were out. I didn't want a car crash because it was too close to the episode inspiration. Figured that poison would be too easy. I threw him out of windows, ran him over, gave him cancer, stabbed him, drowned him, but none of them seemed quite right. Hell, I even CHOKED him as we know Sam Winchester is famously known for. I needed him brain dead, not dead dead right away. Then I realized that if he was to be brain dead, why not just hit him in the head JUST right? So I did. It was a morbid month.

Now that I had the name, face, and means of brain death, I then decided to figure out who else was in his world. So I gave him a little sister. The name Amanda came into my head, but I decided to go with Mandy. I blame it on listening to The Dresden Dolls at the time. I had two characters to figure out now. Who are they? Who are Jared and Mandy Oaks?

I blended a lot of me into both. Jared became at first a medieval enthusiast turned degree earner. He liked his Chinese food hot. Like melt your face off hot. He's somewhat hesitant and cautious with the opposite sex when it comes to dating. He loves the Ren Fest. He's a loyal and caring guy that would do almost anything for his family and those he loves. I made him Catholic. His favorite saint is my favorite saint, St. Francis. I found that Jared Oaks started to emerge on the page the more I played with ideas. Hell, he's still surprising me.

His sister, Mandy, is hoping to go to college for astronomy. I enjoy watching and reading about it, even if I can't fathom math. She adores the crap out of Cary Grant, and her favorite movie is Bringing Up Baby. She wears green, as it is my favorite color. In some ways, what I don't like emerged in her to be a foil to her big brother. She also harbors my conflicted feelings towards the Catholic Church.

Once I had these in place, I started writing what I thought would be the opening scene. Wrong. It was a dinner scene set at the Chinese place based on upon my favorite restaurant. It ended with the big blow to the head that would put Jared Oaks where I needed him most: in a hospital bed, hovering between life and death. But I needed to write that to figure out what these two were really about. Jared Oaks would do anything for his sister, and it was protecting her from the jerks trying to steal his car that gave me the start of tragedy. But how could his sister be the next of kin to decide his life/death? So, I killed their parents off in a tragic car crash and made him her legal guardian. Now that she's also an adult recovered from her own injuries in the car, she was in place to make those decisions.

I played with this false start chapter for about six months, taking my time, not sure what the hell I was doing. It wasn't until I went to my first Supernatural Convention and upped the game by telling Jared Padalecki himself that I wanted him as the star that I started to flesh it out and really go somewhere.I came back home and dug in. I'm a 1/3 of the way through.

I split Jared Oaks into two recently, and the twist I have of what his double will actually be I hope is a fascinating twist. My friend, that has read every single chapter as it's been written in the raw told me after chapter 6 was done that it was really a sibling love story. It is. These two have faced a lot together and have become each other's rocks. I'm shattering both into pieces, and the tragedy is that it's all a senseless death. I made that into a motif, actually.

Things started to really mold and meld. I think it's ironic that the first words were written on January 6th, 2011. That is Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas. This, too, plays a role in the story.

Let's hope that by this time next year I've accomplished the goal: getting it actually into a certain Padalecki's hands.

Far Away Eyes