While Sunny may sound too sappy, too innocent (even to the point of being one dimensional) to be inspired by a real character, let me tell you, Sunny lives and breathes out there in the world. Unlike the character of Ricky, who is actually based on multiple individuals (yes, with one in particular. See previous post), Sunny's character was someone I knew well in childhood. The wispy blonde hair, the thin frame, the long skirts, the religious-devoutness and sincerity all come from one girl that I actually knew. She always had a kind word or a little gift for me. Maybe I mythologized her innocence over the years, but as I recall, she was Sunny to a "T". I wondered for many years what became of this dreamy, generous little soul. I sort of suspected she might have married a preacher, or become a church missionary. Several years ago (before I was all mom-like and square), I was at a really slummy bar with friends. We were making small talk with a young lady by the pool table;she was about my age, and platinum blonde with obviously augmented breasts, over the top make up, and skin-tight stripper clothes. (No judgement here! She was working the look!) Someone said her name, and after the shock wore off, I threw my arms around her. She wasn't -let me just put this bluntly- a holy-roller anymore, but she was still just as sweet. I like that her life went on an unpredictable course. Surprises make life delicious! I think I might like to see Sunny go down an unexpected road or two in the series someday. We'll see!
 
 
      It seems more people than not have had some experience with a school bully. I'm certainly no exception. Initially, it was one particular boy that inspired the Ricky character, though he took on the personalities of several interesting young men I've met over the years as I became involved in character-development. Everyone knows a Ricky. This proto-Ricky, really did torment me in junior high and one year of high school. He sat behind me in most classes, putting tape in my hair, and telling the teacher I wouldn't stop hitting on him. It seems like mostly harmless teasing now, but at the time, he was the bane of my existence. How I hated that boy! He seemed to spend his entire school day thinking up ways to annoy or humiliate me. He eventually joined the masses of drop outs, and I heard he went to prison. I didn't see him for over 10 years. Then, one day, I ran into a friend who was already chatting with a guy I din't recognize. Just a redneck guy. Then, it hit me. "You used to torture me in school!" I shouted. "Oh. I sure did," he said casually, "I recognize your voice now. Sorry about that." That was enough for me. We became what I guess you would call, unlikely friends. He was still the same old scalawag, but I could accept that. During his second stint in the slammer, I met a cute redhead who shared a last name with my "Ricky," but that was about it. This ginger was somewhat of a hipster, very enlightened and keenly intelligent. He actually read books. And lots of them! I quickly learned that they shared last names because they were cousins!  When I married my red-haired fella, I became my bully's family. I became his cousin. My teenage self might have really pooped herself if she had known that!

 
 
Today, my debut young adult novel, The Homeschoolers, will drop on Amazon Kindle. It will be free for its premiere so get 'em while it's hot! It's been a long time coming. I began writing the story two years ago, but only got 10 pages in. The characters stayed in my mind. It was like being pregnant for two years. After a long summer of labor, they will be introduced to the world, at last. I hope you'll take the time to get to know them. Read my little novel, and offer a bit of encouragement or a few kind words on Amazon, if you can. Read and recommend. And next post, I'll share a little bit about where the characters come from. 

-Henry