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Letting Ideas Take Flight

Sometimes people ask me where my story ideas come from. A better question would be, "Where DON'T your story ideas come from?" But I'll go ahead and humor you all with some examples from my next book.

Finding Love in Eureka releases in February and has a lot of scenes set in an airport since Matt Lake is a pilot, which is perfect now that I work for an airline. I was able to use a lot of real life experiences in my book.

  • Things like how a certain pilot always wanted to "time out" in Boise, and we were pretty sure it must have been because he had a girlfriend here.

  • And things like how we once loaded the passengers on the plane, but LAX didn't have a landing time for us, so the plane couldn't leave, and we just hung out on the jet bridge floor for an hour, eating cookies the flight attendants gave us.

  • And things like how my boss believes they won't ever let her push the plane back to the runway because if she had that kind of control, she'd be all taunting the pilot through his headset, "Say my name, SAY my name."

Well, last night we had a seven hour delay, and by the time the clock struck midnight, everyone was pretty loopy. There was a drunk old man who wanted to take selfies with airline employees. And an angry couple who kept saying, "I know this isn't your fault," then yelling at us some more. Those things are actually pretty standard. This next guy was not:

When the flight first got delayed around five o'clock, this guy came up to the ticket counter with a stricken look on his face. He said, "I'm going to miss my sister's wedding," and I was overcome with compassion.

(Side note: Don't ever book a flight that is scheduled to land a couple hours before a big event like a wedding. Give yourself more of a buffer than that. Because though we had a seven hour delay, two other airlines in Boise cancelled flights last night.)

Anyway, the man wanted us to refund his flight and pay the difference to get him on a Southwest flight so he could make it to the wedding. I explained that we don't do that. I apologized and made a couple of other suggestions and shared his grief. Then he left, and I wondered what he'd decided to do. I even told a couple of other employees how bad I felt for him.

About ten o'clock he came back up to the counter with a woman. I said, "I wondered if you were still here. You're sister's married now, huh?"

He said, "No."

I frowned. "I thought you said she was getting married tonight."

He said, "No."

I cocked my head. "Oh, I must have misunderstood. Was it just a reception dinner tonight?"

He said, "My sister isn't getting married."

Then I started to question myself. Because I do have a bad ear. And maybe this guy just looked like the other guy. But when he walked away, the ticket agent working with me said, "I swear that's the same guy." And a ticket agent who hadn't seen him earlier said, "He was acting really strange."

I was in shock. Either the guy had split personalities or he'd made up the whole sob story to get us to do what he wanted. Then he must not have wanted the woman with him to know what he'd done, so he'd changed his story.

Cray-zee. AKA emotional manipulation. I don't feel bad for him anymore. I feel bad for the woman he was with. And even his imaginary sister.

I may be a writer, but I couldn't make this stuff up. These kinds of real life experiences get my mind buzzing. And that's where ideas come from.

Ideas are everywhere. But especially at your nearest airport.

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