Then this young lady, I'll call her Cat, met a man that she loved, or thought she did. She quit her job and went with him to his home. He was an OTR trucker and she was going to ride with him on the job. About six months later she was back. She was hired back at her old job because she'd done it very well.
Not too long after the relationship began his physical attentions went from affectionate to hostile. Punches and slaps became the order of the day. It didn't take long for her to break out of that pattern and return home.
I wrote a short story for her about a young woman that found herself in a similar situation, but actually married to the bozo. The story was told in first person by a man, Ron Russell, that she had known from her high school days. He was the husband of her volleyball and basketball coach.
Desperate for rescue and not knowing anyone else she could count on, she called Jean, her coach, and pleaded for help. Jean could not help her that weekend, but Ron was free and agreed to bring her back home.
Ron was special. He was big—about six-three—and quite strong. But he also had a major disability. His left arm was totally without function and he rested it in a harness at all times. He was also as proficient in martial arts as a one-armed man could be. He demonstrated this when Cat's abusive husband tried to dish out some of his medicine to Ron.
Cat was returned home safe and sound. End of story...almost.
For many years though, on random occasions, The character of Ron Russell would give me a mental nudge. There was so much more to his story than that little bit. How had he become disabled? How had learned martial arts? How had he managed to marry Jean, a woman that was not only smart and a terrific natural athlete, but also one of the twenty most beautiful women any man had ever met? What about his family and friends?
I finally surrendered to that particular persistent muse and wrote the whole story. The original short story, now very much rewritten to fit in with what had gone before, comprises the final two chapters of the first novel.
I didn't plan to turn Ron Russell's life into a two (or three) volume story. It just sort of happened.
Robert E. Howard claimed that when he wrote the Conan stories it felt like some presence was telling him the story and he just wrote what he was "told."
I never got the sense that I was being told or guided during the writing, but the story arc never wavered. I had to make decisions about some of the characters regarding their appearance, strengths and weaknesses, personalities, and the like. But I never had to make any decisions on the story itself. It simply was there. When I finished one chapter the next was already waiting to be written.
I borrowed a few minor incidents from my college days and incorporated those facts into the story, but I never had to decide to do that. It all just grew together.
For the span of a few months I wrote every day after work and sometimes on the weekend. I wrote until I was finished. Then I looked at how much I'd written. I was almost shocked to see I'd written over 300,000 words.
That's when the pain of editing began. Only recently did that stage end, and only for the first volume. I still need to do a software edit (at least) to the second volume but I'm waiting to see if the first volume gets published before I tackle that chore.
That is how a simple little present for a co-worker turned into two full volumes of commercial fiction that will, I hope, eventually get published.