The Authors Collection: Then Fate Stepped In

Sara Marie Hogg
Sara Marie Hogg

Writing Catho Darlington—Lessons Learned in the Space Age was a lifelong project, from that first spark up until the time of publication.  Drawings I did as a child would find a place there.   I have come across high school and college notebooks with partial chapters written in them, or doodles to consider, vague outlines.

One of my favorite chapters in the finished book is “The Space Age.”  In this chapter, a mysterious overflowing rain barrel is mentioned.  It is mentioned more than once in the book and also mentioned in another book, Blade Chatter.  My memories on this true incident had faded with time, as had the memories of anyone I could ask, or such knowledgeable people had passed on to their great reward.  Where could I find the real story to cite in the book?

And then fate stepped in.  In 1980, I moved to a small settlement for four months while my actual home was undergoing repairs.  The residence was a farmhouse on some acreage which I would be renting.  The farmer who was renting it to me had this to say:  “If you ever go up in the attic, you can have anything you find up there to keep.  It never was cleaned out from previous tenants.”

CathoDarlington-3dLeft When I did find the nerve to go up in that attic, armed with a stick, I spied a box.  Inside the box was a folded up newspaper, wrapped around old and broken dolls.  I peeled the newspaper back with a stick, further, took the dolls downstairs and also the newspaper.  The dolls had my rapt attention, looking at the ancient newspaper was an afterthought.  There on the last page of the September 27, 1950 edition of the Kansas City Star was a small item about.  .  .  .  the mystery barrel of the Ozarks.  I got goosebumps.  My needed information had appeared as if by magic.

I was working some on Catho Darlington  (I finished four long chapters) while at the farmhouse and was able to cite this Kansas City Star blurb on page 287 of the book.  The blurb was followed in the book by these words:

            —An overflowing rain barrel, a little girl’s lost dolls

      returned at age forty, strange and eerie lights in the night sky—what would you make of it?

I did my best to restore the dolls.  I guess I should add that when I removed the head of one of them to fix the eyes, I found some torn pages of another edition of the Kansas City Star inside.  They were part of the comics section and I carefully re-pieced them together so I could enjoy the read.  Remember Dick Tracy (as in Crimestopper’s Textbook) and Little Iodine?

Yes, on more than one occasion, fate has stepped in to supply me with some valuable information I need when writing a story.  It is very odd how it happens at just the right time.  I have talked to other writers who have had similar experiences.

I am wondering .  .  . are we meant to write what we do?  I think the answer is obvious—or we wouldn’t keep getting these gifts at just the right time.

Sara Marie Hogg and her novels are  part of the Authors Collection.

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