I’m sitting here watching The View and an interview with the actor who plays Dick Cheney in the new movie W. I’m also thinking about the most pervasive question I get as an author: where do you get your ideas. Now I know you are wondering how exactly these two things intersect, so I’ll tell you.
Many, many, (many to the tenth power) years ago, I was young, adventuresome and caught in a downpour trying to get from Vineyard Haven where my cousin and I had gone to swim back to Oak Bluffs where we were staying (this is Martha’s Vineyard folks). We had walked there but now we were soaked. So my cousin decides what we really need to do is hitchhike the rest of the way.
Now, a few years back, when we were teenagers we’d hitchhiked as a group. Our caveat was that we we only allowed to accept rides from little old ladies. Yeah, we followed that. But on this particular day I was convinced that no one was going to stop for two soaking wet women but an ax murderer with a gun under his seat. You can see that at an early age I had a flair for murderous fantasy.
Still I wasn’t too worried since not a soul stopped for us . . . until a lone car slows and eventually stops in front of us. The first thing I notice as we approach the car is that there is a baby seat in the back. So okay, how bad could he be if he’s got a back seat stuffed with baby toys? Still, as the two of us squeeze into the front seat, I tell my cousin to get in first since this was her idea. If this guy starts anything I’m throwing myself from the car.
So we’re finally in and I’m so squished I can’t see who’s driving. I can only hear his voice, which sounds oddly familiar. He’s telling us about how he only stopped for us because he was lost and he was hoping we could tell him how to get back to where he was staying.
And it hits me who the voice belongs to. I can’t see him, so I have to ask. “I may be completely crazy, but are you Richard Dreyfuss?” He laughs and says, “Yeah, and my hobby is picking up strange women in the rain.” My cousin elbows me and tells me she was trying to play it cool. Oh, well.
Well, we show him where to go, then he drops us off at our B&B (The Pequot, by the way, only two blocks). We try to tell him how to get back to where he’s staying. From the befuddled look he gave us we figured he’d be looking for some other drenched folks for further instruction.
The funny thing is, this happened a couple of years after Jaws was filmed on the island. So it couldn’t have been his first time there.
But THAT is where I got the idea for my hero Jarad Naughton’s faulty sense of direction in Spellbound.