October 12, 1997. Will Rogers World Airport. As I sit in the airport, waiting for my brother to arrive, I see a tall, slim, beautifully awkward young woman walk past. She has frizzy red hair; it’s so wild that it looks like it has a life of it’s own. She has pale, skinny arms that look as thin as straw. She has a radiant smile that momentarily makes me forget that I’m stuck at the airport in the middle of the night.
Even though I never spoke to her, that young woman would be one of the most important people in my life. She was Maxine Phillips. And after a little over eight years, I’m finally getting the chance to share her story with the world.
A lot has changed with Maxine since I first began jotting those notes down that Sunday night. At first, Deke was the narrator. But after a few chapters, I realized Maxine wasn’t going to let anyone else tell her story. Maxine still loves comic books, although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the published novel. Also, Maxine started off as a Muslim, but she just couldn’t give up bacon. The working title of the manuscript was Captain Maxine to the Rescue, and then Family Portraits, and then a bunch of other crappy titles until I lucked up on Red Polka Dot In A World Full of Plaid.
I titled this post 2944 Days and Counting because due to a cover error, the novel’s release date had to be pushed back from November 1st as originally planned. However, the folks at Genesis Press and Kensington assured me that the books would go out within the next two weeks. Also, they’ve already made arrangements for the books to be at all of my book signings, so please come out and get a copy of the book. (I owe Stephanie Nelson, Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble-Sunset Valley, a big thank-you for talking to my publisher, and for also calming me down.) I planned to start off this post by complaining about the release delay, but after eight years, I figure I can stand to wait a few more weeks.
At the bottom of this post are a few of my handwritten notes from that night. And yes, my handwriting is atrocious.
When I left the airport that night, I knew I had something special. For those of you that read the novel, I hope you realize the same thing.
Wow, I’ve learned something here. I’m not the only one who makes little notes like this…all over the place. You know what would be so cool? If this woman you saw in the airport could know how she inspired you. It would be interesting to know her response. Did you take creative writing classes in college?