A character comes alive

The other day I was in a restaurant in Chicago, a hundred miles from home, when in walked someone I know: Sushma Vishnuveda. She was half a continent—and a whole world—from home.

Sushma, you see, is a character in Fast Lane.

So now you’re going, “What the—?”

It’s not new for me, this experience of having a character skip dimensions. The first time was when an MRI machine gave me visions of Dani Stahl, the lead character in my screenplay Terminal Sex. Unfortunately, they weren’t happy visions.

I saw Dani in my office, the very place where I created her, but she was lost. I felt like I was responsible for her sadness. And then someone reminded me that Dani was a reflection of myself.

Why was Dani sad? She’d had her day in the sun. Two days, in fact. The first was when she snagged me representation from a player agency in Hollywood that sent Terminal Sex to about two dozen producers. The result was lots of compliments, but no sale.

Dani’s second shot at fame came when a writing team that had penned a highly successful movie-of-the-week took Terminal Sex to one of the Big Three TV networks. Everyone there loved it. Except the president of the network’s movie division.

The next time a character of mine became real was when I discovered a garage band called The Mydols. These working-class moms from Detroit embodied Anna Petrovic, the housewife who joins a hard-rock band otherwise composed of scraggly teens in my screenplay Metal Mom. Anna, too, had a couple shots at the big time. She even had Michelle Phillips signed up to play her.

Michelle Phillips! I hadn’t conceived of Anna as a babe, but moms can be pretty sexy.

Fast-forward to Monday, when Sushma walked in.

She was actually a young woman I’d only previously seen in this excerpt in Chapter Four of Fast Lane:

Sushma wasn’t what you’d call an imposing woman. She stood barely five feet tall, but with her fully fleshed-out curves, there was a whole lot of sexy packed onto her frame. She had dark olive skin and a heart-shaped face dominated by round eyes with long lashes that made her look like Bambi when she blinked.

I’m such a doofus. If I had had one of my official Fast Lane book marks with me, I could have given it to her and hoped she would become a ManWARrior and a reader. Who knows? Maybe she still will.

Anyway, seeing her made my day. Well, the Paul McCartney concert at Wrigley Field that started an hour later was pretty good, too.

But I didn’t make up Paul McCartney.

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