Some of my stories start with a character who pops into my head, some with a theme I want to explore. Some just come from me asking myself what I’d write if I were going to write a certain trope. When It All Falls Down is special to me because it was inspired by something that actually happened when I was in high school.
Right before graduation, one of the most popular boys in my high school class (I think he was voted Most Preppy, not Most Popular, but he was popular) accidentally killed a child while driving. It wasn’t his fault. The kid literally dropped out of a tree in front of him. But you can imagine how an accident like that would permanently change your life, whether it was your fault or not.
I remember sitting in class at my desk one afternoon before class started. The room was full of kids–loud kids–but Andy wasn’t talking to any of them. He was at the back of the room looking out of the window into this courtyard, and he was all alone.
Andy had a lot of friends. He didn’t need little unpopular me to go over and talk to him, except, right at that moment, maybe he did.
When It All Falls Down starts with that moment. Charlie has more courage than I had, and he does what I should’ve done: he approaches the heartbroken boy at the window. The rest of the book is pure fiction, but in writing it I felt like I was finally exorcising the demon of regret.
Sorry, Andy. You deserved better.