Friday, May 29, 2009

Setting the Record Straight: Where Truth and Fiction Collide

It's no secret that my new book is based on an actual camp, the camp I went to as a child and the one my daughter attends now: Camp Birch Knoll in Phelps, Wisconsin. And it's also true that the story was inspired by some real life events. But the story is fiction. And the characters are fiction. Really and truly!

Which is why it surprises me when I hear that people are trying to figure out who they are in the book. I've heard from campers and staff, friends of mine and friends of my daughter. Everyone has a theory as to who's who in the book.

It's kind of funny. I guess if someone wants to see themselves in my book, there's nothing wrong with that. But I figure I should set the record straight. So here I go...

1. The friendship triangle of Jemma, Tammy, and Brooke was inspired by a friendship triangle my daughter was in her first summer at camp, but it was also inspired by several different friendship and love triangles I experienced in my own life. The actual characters of Jemma, Tammy, and Brooke sprung from my own imagination.

2. The Darby-Todd relationship wasn't based on anyone at all. But Darby looks a little like one of my counselors at camp, Julie Goldsmith. And Todd, the hunky ski-boat driver, is a combination of all the cute ski-boat drivers I've ever had crushes on.

3. Just like Jemma, I once got to ride in the boat with the cute ski-boat driver, and I was totally embarrassed due to a booger hanging out of my nose.

4. Also, like Jemma, I had to learn the difference between "winning" and "earning" the Firelighter award. (I was Firelighter my third summer of camp.)

5. Eddie, the camp director, is a little bit like Gary, the current Birch Knoll director, and a little bit like Ed, Gary's dad, who directed camp when I went there. But Eddie is really just Eddie. And Maureen is Maureen. I make stuff up. That's why I'm a fiction writer.

6. Delaney isn't based on anyone in particular. But I really like her.

7. Kat and Annie look a lot like my best camp friend, Debby Lebold.

8. There is no such thing as the Star Lake Cup. I made that up. But I did compete in a sailing race on a blustery day, and Debby and I did capsize and almost sink our boat. Her sister, Jenny, came to our rescue.

9. I tried to name as many characters as I could after my daughter's and my camp friends. I even gave Firelighter to one of my friends who totally deserved it but never got it: Jennie Cohen. That was fun.

10. One thing that Jemma Hartman and I have 100% in common is how much we love camp. Best place on earth.

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