Today my guest is Brynn Stein–fellow Dreamspinner and Harmony Ink Press author! Welcome Brynn and thank you for visiting!
This is the ninth stop on my blog tour. I’m having such fun, as I always do on these tours, talking about various aspects of writing in general, and Ray of Sunlight in particular and getting to know all of you. Thanks so much for following the tour. If this is your first stop, feel free to go back and comment on the others, listed below, to be entered to win one of five prizes. More about that later.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Charley. I always love dropping by.
Characters inspired by real life people…sort of.
I’ve already mentioned that Russ was inspired by my students and the homophobes in the story by the people I work with. Now I’d like to talk about CJ’s inspiration. At least part of it.
Years ago, when I was a homebound instructor, raising my own two small children, I taught a little girl with the same kind of cancer CJ has. Let’s call her Jessica.
Jessica was twelve and a half years old and had been fighting cancer for six months when I first met her. Because she was in and out of the hospital and even when she wasn’t she was way too sick to go to school, she need homebound instruction. That means the county schools paid for me to go into her home and work with her so she wouldn’t get too far behind in her studies.
When she was in the Children’s Hospital, of course, she had an educator on staff there who worked with her, but I still visited and kept up to date with what was going on with her. So, by virtue of working so closely with her, I know the symptoms of that kind of cancer, the toll chemo takes on a young body, how education in a children’s hospital works, and unfortunately, how it feels to lose someone so young to cancer.
I worked with her for almost two years. She had just turned fourteen when she went into the hospital for the last time. I visited her, as I always had, but she told me that day that she wouldn’t be there tomorrow. She said that for the first time in two years, she didn’t hurt. (She was always in pain, even with the high powered pain killers she was on). The nurses explained to me that that sometimes happens. The patient’s body shuts down enough toward the end that it doesn’t carry pain impulses anymore.
She was right. She died that evening. Her dad called me the next morning. (I didn’t know him as well as I knew her mom, but mom was justifiably distraught and wasn’t making phone calls.) I think I cried for the rest of the day. She wasn’t the first student I lost to death. And she wasn’t the last. But each one is devastating.
So, now, it feels like a little part of her is immortalized in CJ. He’s really nothing like her, except maybe that indomitable twinkle in his eye. He’s a different age; he has a very different home life. But still…Jessica is sort of the inspiration.
What about all of you? Writers, do you find that your characters are inspired by real life people? Maybe they’re not really anything like them, but the fact that you knew this one real life person went a long way toward your development of this fictional character? Readers, I’m sure far too many of you have had experience with loved ones, or at least people you know, having cancer. I’d love to hear your stories, if you’d like to share short memories, or better yet triumphs, of the people in your life who have fought or are fighting cancer.
Comment below for a chance to win.
Here’s how the giveaway will work. Visit as many sites as you want, as often as you want. Each comment will enter you to win one of the following prizes: 1st) An autographed paperback copy of Ray of Sunlight, 2nd) An electronic copy of Ray of Sunlight, 3rd) Your choice of audio or electronic copy of Living Again, 4th) An electronic copy of Through the Years, and 5th) an electronic copy of Haunted. The takeovers for Harmony Ink’s blog and Facebook page will be part of the tour, so comments on there will count. I will draw the winners during the FB takeover and will announce them then, but will come back and announce it to all the sites too. So, you don’t have to leave your email address here if you don’t want to, just remember to check back. You’re also welcome to leave your email in the comments if you’d rather or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading of “just in case”, so I can contact you if you win, if you don’t want to have to stop back by the blog sites. You don’t have to be present at the FB takeover to win.
Thanks for playing.
Ray of Sunlight
Russ Michaels has his whole life ahead of him but no plans beyond dropping out of school as soon as he turns eighteen. He’s been in and out of juvenile detention for the last four years and thoroughly expects to end up in an adult penitentiary at some point. He hates life and everyone in it, especially this latest community service that he earned in lieu of juvie yet again.
CJ Calhoun has big plans. He wants to bring joy and happiness to sick and injured children for as long as he can by performing as a clown. The problem is, he has stage-four cancer and a horrible prognosis.
When circumstances throw these two polar opposites together, they find they have more in common than they imagined. CJ discovers Russ’s talent for art and arranges for Russ to create a mural in the hospital foyer, which leads to a tentative scholarship to the Art Institute. As life changes in ways neither of them could have expected, Russ must work harder than ever to better himself as CJ struggles with his deteriorating health.
Buy Ray of Sunlight:
Brynn Stein has always loved to write. Fan fiction, original fiction, whatever. While Brynn wrote in numerous genres—everything from mystery, to contemporary, to supernatural—she had always tended toward strong male characters. And then she discovered “slash,” male/male romance, and all those strong male characters were finally allowed to express their love for one another. It seems that there are always at least two characters clamoring to tell Brynn their story.
Brynn lives in Virginia near her two grown daughters who encourage her writing and provide a sounding board for fledgling stories. When she isn’t writing, Brynn teaches children with special needs. In free time, when such a thing exists, she reads anything she can get her hands on, and haunts bookstores. She draws and paints, and enjoys the outdoors—especially if she can get to the beach—and is always thinking about her next story.