Recently some of my readers have asked if any of the events in my books have come from real life experience. Writing a series about genetically modified teens means the answer a lot of the time is “no.” I simply have an amazing (if not twisted) imagination. Of course, there are in fact many incidents in my real life that I can draw upon for inspiration, so I thought I’d give you one. There is one particular “event” I drew very heavily upon for a scene (one of my favorite scenes in Swann!!), and that was the food fight scene. Even now I’m grinning to myself, and saying, “Holy cow, what was I thinking?!”
I think it was probably 1985 or 1986 when it happened. I was in seventh or eighth grade and I hate to admit to what I did, but I’m going to anyway. By and large I was a good kid, but on that day in grade school, I decided to launch an apple across the gym at this real a**hole who had been bullying me. Now if I did that today, in these times, you might have some choice words for me (I’d have choice words for myself!) and I’d probably need a lawyer to get me out of jail. But back then…not so much.
First, let me set the stage. Our gym/cafeteria was basically a giant square building with tables lined along the outer edges leaving about thirty feet of bare hardwood floor between the tables. So, like I said, I lobbed an apple across the gym at the kid bullying me. The fruit exploded on the table right in front of him, causing me and my friends to burst into laughter. Even as I was laughing I remember being terribly nervous inside, but that’s because I was in a new school and bullied from the get-go, not only by this kid but by others, too.
Then something came flying back. And then something else. And then another table joined in and pretty soon all the tables were involved. The air in between the tables became a gigantic rainbow of just about every kind of edible thing you could imagine. The food started hitting all around us. Whatever you can think of – sandwiches, coke cans, a potato pancake, a burrito – it all came raining down in fits of chaos. We stood to run out of the cafeteria because things had definitely gotten out of hand and that’s when I was hit in the back with a pint-sized Styrofoam cup of vanilla shake. It exploded into my hair and had me laughing pretty good (yeah, I totally deserved that!).
That day, the food fight was all anyone could talk about, but the next day I was sitting in the principal’s office being forced to explain why I did what I did. It didn’t matter what my explanation was…what I did was wrong. Naturally I spent a week in detention and not another word was said about the food fight, but that was definitely one of the highlights of my youth, something I was quite excited to write about in Swann.