Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Number 2

The second book that influenced East Garrison is a classic: Jaws by Peter Benchley. This fiction book put a name to the fear we all have when in large pools of water. My own fear was already there while being forced to learn to water ski when I was about 8 years old. If you don't know how to water ski, I'll break it down:

1. Alone in the water with a pair of skis and a rope tied to a boat.
2. You give the "thumbs up," meaning you're ready to try to get up on those skis.
3. If you're lucky, you get yanked out of the water the first time and away from the evil lurking below you. (I always pictured a green and slimy white hand grabbing for my ankle in the wake of the boat as I skied off.)
4. Eventually you fall or have to let go of the rope. (There's no other known way to get back into the safety of the boat without going back into the water first.)
5. You wait alone in the water until you're rescued, praying the boat will come back quickly. For me, this was the worst part. I'd try to lie perfectly still on top of my skis, praying the unnamed beast would mistake me for a floating log until the boat returned (which never failed to take an eternity) to save me.

After Jaws came out, and we all saw the shark's point of view under the water, with our legs thrashing, looking so helpless, swimming became a terrifying experience. Hell, even the bathtub was a place of horror for me. I still can't shake the image of my white legs underneath the water.

While writing East Garrison, a number of rare mountain lion attacks happened in California, and naturally one of North America's biggest predators became the antagonist. Not just a mountain lion though, a female mountain lion with cubs. This paralleled Tracy, the pregnant protagonist. This lion wasn't randomly killing people, like in Jaws; she was just protecting her cubs, but I did keep in mind the way Benchley wrote Jaws, particularly in the prologue and the epilogue. It is, after all, a classic.

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