Monday, February 15, 2016

An Unrealized Story Source

My nephew is a firefighter for the city I live in. It's a pretty large city with an approximate population of 210,358 people. There are 15 neighborhood fire stations (also called fire houses). He works in one of the busier fire houses. Why am I telling you this you ask? Because he has had some interesting experiences. He shares some of these experiences with his family. He never gives details such as names or the street addresses of the calls he responds to.

Some of his stories are funny - One time he and his crew were called to a home for a suspicious odor. When they arrived, the homeowner explained that his wife bought an enormous bag of onions and stored them in the garage. The onions then spoiled. Why did he call the fire department to come to his home? He wanted them to do something to get rid of the onion odor.

Some of his stories are heartbreaking - His crew was called to a bridge where someone jumped. The person didn't jump out far enough to land in the river below, but landed on the rocks near the water's edge. The person died of his injuries on scene. The person was thirteen years old and left a suicide note rolled up in the chain link fence near where he jumped off.

He also tells us about the pranks the firefighters play on each other in the house. He went into the fire academy right out of high school, graduated from the academy and was assigned to a fire house at the age of eighteen. Because he was so young and definitely the youngest guy in the house, they nicknamed him "Kid." On his first overnight shift, the guys he worked with made up his bunk for him with little boy sheets from the Disney movie Cars. Eight years later, his nickname is still Kid.

It didn't dawn on me until he stopped by last weekend and mentioned he helped deliver another baby (it was his fourth delivery) that I realized I have a wonderful source of story ideas. I asked him if he would mind if I "stole" some of his stories to use in future books. He didn't mind at all. He offered to answer any technical questions I may have. He also offered to arrange a ride along for me in the summer. They don't do them in the winter because the weather is too unpredictable.

So look to the people around you. You may have access to story fodder without even realizing it.

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