In my latest book, Sleeping With Shadows, the story is based off of my own first love. He was older than me, and the connection between us was just so instantly intense that it scared me. We dated for a while but life and distance coupled with my fear over that intense connection eventually pulled us apart.
We met up again when I was in college, and the timing just wasn’t right, although he and I have always still had a very intense and special connection. We both ended up finding the loves of our lives, but that first love will always be a very intense memory for both of us.
When he found me again through classmates.com several years ago it rekindled all kinds of old memories and kicked my writer’s antennae into high gear. I started to wonder why that connection WAS so intense and why, even then, when we had both found where we truly belonged that our connection still hummed between us, even though nothing more could or would ever come out of it besides friendship. The story of Sleeping With Shadows spun out from there, and was the last book I wrote before my brain blowout in 2010. If you’re not yet up on that whole thing, here’s the link to the blog that will give you the scoop.
Many of you know that while in the hospital and under heavy sedation for all those weeks, I spent most of my time in a long, white hallway. There were many people there talking to me, guiding me and comforting me. People both living and dead. My grandfather, my brother and my stepmother I knew were all dead, and I saw them down there regularly. I also saw my hubby, my son, my good friend Bill from college and my first love, Phillip. So when I came out of heavy sedation and had enough of the drugs out of my system to actually be at least somewhat coherent I started to worry that the people I’d seen in the hallway who weren’t there at the hospital with me might be dead too! I could see and touch my husband and son, but what about Bill and Phillip? Lucky for me Bill was visiting from California already, here to see his Dad, so he was able to come to the hospital to visit me! My hubby was very sweet and called Phillip for me and I was able to talk to him on the phone. I’m sure both of those guys heard me being pretty loopy with all the meds I was still on, but they never let on 🙂
Anyway, when I got out of the hospital and got back home it took me a while to get back into writing, but when I did I came back around to Sleeping With Shadows and the story came to life again inside my head. I had written everything except the very end, and when I did finish it my agent said she loved it. She said it was the best book I had ever written, and I have to agree. My writing skills had grown by leaps and bounds since my first book back in 2003 and I think my emotional attachment to the story really made it the book of my heart.
Anyway, after much editing and smoothing, my agent did her best to shop the book around, but the tastes of New York had changed and no one was biting. Eventually I took the book back and decided to publish it myself. It isn’t erotic, but highly sensual, so that fit under my Tina name instead of my Cassie Ryan one, but since I do have a following for my Tina books, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a shot and wade into self publishing. It was better than the book sitting on my hard drive doing nothing.
So my critique partner and buddy, Kayce Lassiter helped me format it, and she made me an amazing cover.
Back while my agent was shopping it around Phillip emailed me to check in and see how the recovery was going, and I told him I had a new book that was based on us way back when. He was obviously intrigued, so I emailed him a copy. Hey, that’s the flip side of a writer using you as total book fodder, you get free books 🙂
Now I did warn him that it was slightly dangerous to be a close friend to a writer, but I don’t think he was quite prepared for all that I had mined out of reality with that book.
The picture described of the hero and heroine in Matthew’s grandparents’ back yard is based on the one you see above of Phillip and I. I also shamelessly stole Phillip’s grandparents’ house and backyard, and even their first names. I took a few other things here and there, like the fact that he really does hate salmon and can only stomach it with BBQ sauce on it…lol! I did try to warn him, but I think it freaked him out a bit at first 🙂
Just like in most of my other books there are direct things stolen from my hubby, my friends and even in my Fantasy Quest online gaming characters – my son. Although hubby hasn’t ever read any of my books, and I’m not sure if he ever will, so he may not ever get to freak out over the facts I’ve blatantly stolen from him 🙂
Yes, this is why stories BASED on true ones come about the way they do.
The other facts I used in Sleeping With Shadows are the details from New Orleans like the Hotel Monteleone, the Moonwalk and even the Yo-Mama’s Bar & Grill.
None of these facts are earth shattering and definitely nothing embarrassing for Phillip in any way, but I did have a moment where I felt like a stalker. I tend to file away facts about everyone and everything around me. And they do tend to find their way into my stories at some point. I’m sure those who know me well noticed several books with a PT Cruiser in them back when I had my beloved Cruiser.
Being close to a writer comes with its own perils. You’re always possible book fodder if you’re in our range of notice…. And yes, I’ve even killed off a few people in my books based on those I actually KNOW in real life. MUCH cheaper than therapy, and legal too!
That’s just one of the many perks of this job. I get to plan and carry out murders, kidnap people and make them do what I want, have all kinds of kinky sex, and still be totally faithful to my wonderful husband. And the best part…I get paid to make stuff up!
Anyway, I recently sent Phillip the final copy of Sleeping With Shadows with the wonderful cover, the dedication and all the rest. He hasn’t re read it yet, but I hope when he does, now that the shock has passed, that he can see that it was all ‘mined’ out of our lives from love and good memories. He was a great first love to have, and I will always treasure those memories, as I hope he does. And best of all, the love of my life isn’t threatened at all by those memories or even of the current-day friendship I have with Phillip. Phillip is my oldest friend – 31 years and counting! – and still means a lot to me, but my hubby, Jon, knows how much I love HIM and that I would never betray that trust or the wonderful love we have between us. Phillip and I had our time in this lifetime and we made the choices we did. And in the end it lead us both to our current happiness.
Jon & I at our 10 year anniversary dinner.
Phillip and I may get another chance in the next lifetime, but I’ll leave that up to higher powers to plan out, and just be incredibly thankful about what I have with Jon in this one. I really have been lucky to have both of them in my life. Many people don’t have ONE love in their lifetime, and I’ve had a few, but these two are the most special, and always will be.
So just like the book, this blog is dedicated to my first love, Phillip, and the love of my life, Jon, for gifts and love beyond measure.
If you’d like to check out the book and put into context everything I’ve mentioned here, it’s available on Amazon in both ebook and print. If you enjoy it, drop me a line and if you’re so inclined, I would welcome a review on Amazon!
Here’s the blurb: Can soul mates meet in a dream? Until their past-life karmic cycles are balanced, Matt Martin and Sarah Ryan are on a collision course pushing the world toward a disastrous end. Will they allow their intense past-life connection to cause them even more missed opportunities in this lifetime? Everyone’s karmic tapestry is in jeopardy because of Matt and Sarah. Together they form the thread that threatens to unravel universal karmic harmony. To make matters worse, a third person brings more difficulty for the duo. When Sarah’s spurned ex-lover threatens to destroy her to keep her to himself, he unwittingly dooms millions. Can Sarah and Matt work through this dangerous reincarnation with a twist?