As writers, we draw a lot of inspiration from our actual lives, even if our stories are 100% fiction. Terrible Friend is a real testament to that. Here’s the story of The Birth of “Terrible Friend”.
Terrible Friend was my 2017 NaNoWriMo project. It was inspired by a dear friend of mine, Christopher Spitler aka Tobias Lux and a lot of my experiences with him. We were just friends, but good friends. People would ask why we didn’t “get together” and we joked that the world would explode if we did, and neither of us wanted that.
We had a very unique connection that is hard to put into words. We would go months without speaking, but he would cross my mind, and just thinking “I wonder how he’s doing” would always result in him calling or showing up on my doorstep within 48 hours. He had said it was similar for him. It happened so regularly (not necessarily frequently) that I called it my “Spitler Sense”. That kind of inspired Jax’s sense of lost things in Terrible Friend.
The first inspiration for the story itself was a dream I’d had that Spitler was in (not that kind of dream) that we ended up talking a bit about. I told him that I was going to write it as a book called Terrible Friend for NaNoWriMo. The dream and our chat about it happened in June or July I think. He was intrigued, so we discussed it and it helped me develop more of the story, but then, something else happened. A kind of synchronicity that wasn’t really uncommon for us.
Let me preface this by saying that the irony of the whole thing is that he wasn’t a terrible friend at all. Sure, we would go months at a time without speaking to each other, but we were always there when the other seemed to need us, if for no other reason than to check in and ask “how are you” and listen to the answer. He showed up for me in some of my darkest times, and I did for him too. He pushed me, in his off the wall to me ways, to challenge myself, think beyond what was just in front of me, and to trust my own intuition more. He didn’t sugar coat or pull punches when we talked about things, and he believed in me. So, when we got into the conversation about my book idea Terrible Friend he listened and I welcomed his feedback.
I expected some feedback about where he thought things could be improved, which he gave and it helped me build out and fill in some early holes in the story, but then he mentioned that he had written a poem, and asked if I would like to hear it.
He read it to me over the phone, and his voice being naturally deep and him knowing the rhythm and where emphasis should be placed, because he wrote it, gave me chills. I truly hope that one day I can get a recording of him reading it so you can experience it too. It’s intense. He gifted the poem to me to use as an opener to the book and I will only ever do an audiobook if he agrees to record it.
I haven’t heard from him in a few years now, and no matter how much I will it, I can’t feel the Spidey Sense connection anymore. I miss him terribly. I hear he is well through mutual connections, and as long as I know that, I’m okay because my friend is ok. That is how it has always been. Our paths will cross again when they are supposed to, and I trust that. I am publishing the book now and hope he gets a chance to see it.
I kind of kick myself a bit because it took so long for me to bring the book into reality. I self-published it in 2018 and took it down a few months later, when I signed contracts with Twisted Souls Press for my Totem of Talons Series and Death of a Secret. We held off on a contract for Terrible Friend.
Terrible Friend and I weren’t ready back then and I knew it. I didn’t know how to really do the release of the book justice. It deserves a lot. There is so much back story, and extra story, and memories from my life weaved into it. I’ve learned more, and now I can do more. It probably still won’t be perfect, but it’s time!