When it comes to blending my personal history into my fiction, I brought out a few extras this time. I grew up in Amarillo Texas, from first grade through two years at Amarillo College. When I finally gave in the requests from friends and family to write a story set in Amarillo, I decided to use a lot of familiar places. Jeff’s house was my house on Tyler Street. The streets he walked were the same ones I walked when I had my newspaper route.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the same Amarillo as it was when I grew up. For one thing, the Amarillo High School that I attended burned down the year after I left. They built a new one, but in a new location, forcing redistricting. So my Tyler Street house is now in Tascosa High School’s district. Oh, well, I adapted.
My sister Mary Solomon still lives in the area, at Lake Tanglewood, and is quite a respected local artist, so I gave her a small walk-on part in one scene. But the many visits to Lake Tanglewood let me give a little more flavor to the scenes I set there. The first scene of the book in fact was a blending of a high school event I attended, just moved to Tanglewood rather than Palisades.
Karen, Jeff’s helper in the mystery story, was loosely based on a girl I knew, and Hank, his best buddy was a mix of several friends I had growing up.
And this is a mystery, no doubt about it. While Jeff’s brain tricks were slightly fictional and might be considered science fiction, that’s a minor point. It was when I was considering various plot ideas and remembered adventures I had as a kid, that I remembered the link to Pantex and what an open mystery it was at the time. Everyone knew it existed, but no one was allowed to talk about it. Yet, this was normal life and no one considered it all that odd.
It was a lot of fun to bring all these items together, to relive parts of my past and to fold them into a new fictional character.
So, with so many personal memories and with a chance to build a mystery story, Beneath the Amarillo Plains is my favorite.
Next up — My Favorite Book: Star Time