Earlier this fall, I experienced one of those days when you wake up and everything’s pretty normal and by the time you go to bed, everything has shifted.
I’d brought our recently adopted dog, Rosie, to our beloved veterinarian for an initial exam. Our veterinarian listened to Rosie’s heart, noted an interesting-sounding murmur, and suggested Rosie be evaluated by a veterinary cardiologist.
At dinner with hubby that night, I brushed it off. “Dogs live with heart murmurs all the time.”
Hubby wasn’t convinced. “What if it’s something serious?”
The day everything shifted was the day Rosie saw the cardiologist. Rosie’s failing heart, the cardiologist said, wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the rest of her goofy, bouncing-off-the-walls self. At two years old, Rosie had already defied the odds, since most puppies born with this condition didn’t survive long. We should prepare ourselves for the possibility that Rosie’s heart could stop at any moment—on a walk, playing in the backyard, in her sleep.
We brought our dog home, cried, and ordered more of her favorite chew toys. Then, we rallied.
After investigating the options, we scheduled Rosie to be evaluated for a procedure that might fix the problem without requiring open-heart surgery. We put her on the appropriate pre-op meds, restricted her activity, and prayed.
Meanwhile, I was writing the first installment of a brand-new interactive serialized fiction series. The Wren Island Series is about a woman who, among other escapades, adopts two special-needs dogs. One of the dogs, Louise, is based on Rosie, and I’d been having a ton of fun writing about her silly antics.
But what if Rosie didn’t make it? What if Rosie suddenly, tragically died? How could I possibly continue writing about Louise if my heart was breaking over Rosie?
One reason why interactive serialized fiction is so special is because readers are aware of what’s really driving the story.
They’re the first to hear about the real-life experiences that influence the story’s next installment. They offer their own thoughts and ideas, inspiring me to shape a real-time fictional world that is as beautiful, welcoming, and intriguing as we want it to be.
In the real world, I might lose Rosie at any moment. On Wren Island, I can make sure that Louise, Rosie’s counterpart, stays happy, healthy, and silly forever. So, while facing Rosie’s uncertain future, I made a promise to my readers—and myself:
By the time we finish The Wren Island Series, will Rosie still be with us? Oh, how I want to believe she will be! So here is a promise coming straight out of one of those special moments when real life inspires fiction: Louise will still be with us. Louise is going to live happily on Wren Island forever. And as Lillian Deering of Reclamation Island would say, that is that.
Hubby and I have a tradition of choosing a shared Christmas gift for ourselves. Symphony tickets, a new kitchen gadget, TSA PreCheck passes—something that will improve our life together in the coming year. This year, Rosie’s heart surgery was our gift. Rosie came through surgery beautifully and her heart should function properly for a long, long time now. While she recovers, we’re supposed to keep her calm and quiet. (You can imagine how well that’s going. We’re repeating a familiar mantra around here.)
How about you, my friend? Would you like to be part of a fictional world you influence? Would you enjoy behind-the-scenes peeks at what’s happening next in the story?
When you subscribe to receive my emails, you’ll get a link to an e-book that will catch you up on everything that’s happened on Wren Island so far (including bits about a doggie named Louise!). Then, watch your inbox for opportunities to influence what happens next.