By Sandy Nachlinger
Like most authors, I’ve been asked where I come up with ideas for short stories and books. Here’s how I.O.U. SEX came to be.
IN THE BEGINNING . . .
Sandra Allen and I met at age 13 (back when the earth was still cooling) in Mr. Herman's homeroom class at L. V. Stockard Junior High, then continued together through Justin F. Kimball High School in Dallas, Texas. I’m Sandy; she’s Sandra. Over the years, we went to college, married, had careers, raised children, moved around the country, and retired. But we have always stayed in touch – always remained the best of friends. Through snail-mail letters and in-person visits, then through email, we’ve been an important part of each other’s daily lives for decades. Now one of us lives in Texas; the other, in Washington State.
A few years ago we got together in Texas on New Year's Eve. To escape the chaos of a daughter’s slumber party, we decided to go out to dinner and spend the night in a nearby hotel. The evening's entertainment? Reading my diary from our high school years. We laughed our way through the pages, reading the entries aloud to each other. Each memory made us laugh even harder.
Sandra said, “Call 911. I’m gonna die laughing.”
I said, “I’m about to pee my pants.”
WE OWE THEM SEX
Cruising the Dairy Queen, football games, pep rallies, and dates at drive-in movies – each diary entry brought back more memories of people and places. We were both good Southern girls from the Baby Boomer era – makeout sessions with our boyfriends went only so far before we called a halt. Terms like “making out” and “necking” described the limits of our exploits. While reading the diary, Sandra and I talked about our former steadies, speculated about what they’re doing these days, and joked about the sexual disappointment we surely caused them back then. We wondered how their lives turned out.
THE PLOT THICKENS
Both avid readers, we threw around the idea that a search for old boyfriends would make a good plot for a novel. The next day we continued our discussion, giving names to our characters, discussing plot, just teasing about actually writing a book together. The idea grew. Could we actually do it? I’d taken writing classes for years and had short stories published here and there, and Sandra was an English major and teacher, but the thought of writing a novel was daunting. Finally we decided - why not try? After my visit was over, I returned to the Pacific Northwest and started writing, and I roped Sandra into joining in.
Over the next few days, months, weeks, and years, we fleshed out our characters (Baby Boomers June, Peggy, and Kiki), added settings (North Dallas, Oak Cliff, a mythical Oklahoma town), and plot – with Sandra in Texas and me in Washington state. We communicated via email, sending chapters back and forth, and spent a lot of late nights on the phone, discussing ideas, changes, concerns about our growing creation. We laughed a lot and learned a lot along the way! And eventually we combined the stories of three women and created an actual book.
So you never know where an idea will come from. We both had a great time writing I.O.U. SEX and hope our readers have as much fun reading it as we did writing it. By the way, we never did track down our old boyfriends though we'll both admit to doing a little bit of sleuthing on the Internet.