Fact vs. Fiction: The Joy of Making Stuff Up

In the front matter of most novels, there’s a statement such as the following:

This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is purely coincidental.

You’ve probably seen it so often you take it for granted and don’t think much about it.

Yet, I’ve discovered it’s difficult to write a fictional story that doesn’t make some reference to real-life people, places, and brands. I’ve already received questions such as, “Is [some character] based on [some real person]?” or “Is [some scene] autobiographical? Did that actually happen to you?”

Why Maybe Next Year Takes Place in 2007

The story in Maybe Next Year takes place in 2007.

There are two reasons why I chose to place the story in this timeframe.

First, I have six more novels in various stages of development. These books will follow some of these characters as they go to college, begin their careers, enter into relationships, and eventually deal with people and issues from their past. Starting the storyline when Bryan and Chris are teenagers in 2007 will allow them to age into their roles in future books.

Second, setting the book in the mid-2000s serves as a reminder of the social and political environment for LGBT people during that era. Starting in 2004, many states passed amendments that prohibited same-sex marriage. Those amendments were the culmination of the Republican party’s anti-gay agenda that they have been actively promoting since the early 1980s to appeal to conservative voters.

Writing Every Day

This is Room 264 at the Downtown branch of the Chandler Public Library. It’s just three miles from my home and I can usually get here in less than ten minutes. Every day, I spend two hours in this room writing.

Could I just as easily write at my desk at home for two hours a day? Yes, I could. I did it during the pandemic when the library was closed. But at home, there are too many distractions. There’s paperwork on my desk that needs to be dealt with, someone comes to the door, my husband says something, or my dog wants to be petted. I could be doing a load of laundry while I write.

And it’s true that while I sit in Room 264, I could be checking my email or Facebook or playing a computer game. But I don’t. (Usually.) I write. When I’m here I’m ‘in my zone.’ The only reason I’m here is to write. I think the very act of getting into my car and driving to a different place serves to delineate my writing time from the rest of my day. If I continued to sit at my desk, it wouldn’t feel any different.