I had lunch with my friend Rachel yesterday, and may or may not have spent an hour talking entirely about myself. At one point, Rachel asked if Anywhere But Here was at all autobiographical. The short answer is no, but there are definitely a few scenes with real-life origins. And the more I started thinking about it, the more I saw connections.
*** SPOILER ALERT *** If you’re planning to read Anywhere But Here (and I hope you will), you should skip this post until you’ve turned the final pages!
Okay, here goes…
When I was in high school in Creston, it had the highest rate of teen pregnancy in B.C. (Googling more recent rates gave me Cranbrook and Bountiful as the leaders, and both communities are right next door to Creston.) So, I knew a few girls with babies. I also knew someone who hid a pregnancy for seven months. (My character originally hid her pregnancy for seven months, but the editor thought this was unrealistic and it became five. Which proves the life-is-stranger-than-fiction adage.) I know no details about the real-life hidden pregnancy, which is really the best possible scenario for a writer — it left me free to imagine the surrounding events.
The chainsaw scene really happened, and I watched from the kitchen window as the blade drew closer to my dad’s leg. Thankfully, my dad made no revelations about girlfriends or progeny after the event.
I believe the term sit-in-a-ditch-night was coined by my high-school friend Suzanne.
I blatantly stole the alien conversation from my husband and his friends.
The first scenes with the high-school counsellor were inspired by real events, but my character quickly evolved, something you can read more about here.
There is a bandstand in Lister (Nester). That’s all I’m saying about that.
There is a log book in a cairn at the top of Mount Salmo (Sando), and it contains an entry about the first topless accent of the mountain. But not an entry by me!
I once fell in a tree-well while snowshoeing. My boyfriend and I were having a fairly major argument, and he left me there and kept walking. We broke up that night, which happened to be New Year’s Eve. So, a different scene than Cole’s tree-well scene, but, you know, same snow.
There you have it: the strange and wonderful ways of the subconscious!