I just finished my fifth novel, The Highway Diner. The book began with a character. A person the universe would reveal in its own sweet time. After several months, my wife began to tease me at varioius locations by saying, "Is your character here?" Finally, my protagonist appeared. It was Labor Day. All the restaurants were closed, and we wanted to go out for dinner. Eventually, we settled on our only option, a truck stop diner. And there she was. Glowing in the dark even though ll the lights were on. A tall, young woman waiting tables. My wife saw the look in my eyes and said, "Don't just stand there, go interview her." I said, No way. Now that I know who I'm writing about, I'm going to make up everything about her." The character became Murray, although her mother still calls her Muriel. The two women are running a struggling truck stop after the death of Murray's father. He died young but not before he taught Murray how to drive an 18-wheeler and shoot a gun.
My wife, Jody, suggested we not give our new Collie the same name as his predecessor. "He needs his own identity," she said.
"He'll never know he's the second Ringo," I countered. "And this puppy feels like Ringo's back from doggy heaven with tons of energy."
"You and your Beatlemania," she said.
"No, it's not just Ringo Starr. It's that song Lorne Greene talked us all through in 1964:
'One day we rode the mountain crest
And I went east and he went west
I took to law and wore a star
While he spread terror near and far
With lead and blood he gained such fame
All through the West they feared the name
I'm fighting the "bah humbugs." At the tender age of seventy-two, I say things like, "You know what they say about the holidays?" Pause for effect. "The first seventy are fun."