While Underground Railroad was inspired by true events twisted around to suit my needs Hybrid shares a similar fate. My mother has led an interesting life often pitted with hardship. Not dissimilar to many people, unfortunately.
One scene relayed from her childhood stuck with me and I incorporated it into Hybrid.
My mother is dyslexic, now back in the 1960’s they didn’t have classes to assist these children as part of a normal school. They had schools for all the children who weren’t normal. She went to school with kids who had seizures, where all they did was shove a wallet in their mouth and moved the desks away from them. Children who were severely mentally retarded. She attended with children who were autistic and everyone who was labeled as not being normal.
Like the Stadium High Juvenile Corrections Facility in my book it was cutting edge and woefully in adequate. The hardest part of creating a jail to match the feel of the school she attended was to find a place for it in the real world. Eventually I settled on Stadium High School in WA State. A building used several times in movies and books for it’s unique structure. It was originally built to be a hotel and it looks, quite on purpose, like a castle. It had the added benefit of being a public building. Public buildings are free to use in creative ways thus why you can change the White House into a bordello with out getting permission.
The other challenge was turning it into something co-ed. Who ever heard of a co-ed prison? That’s asking for trouble! Turns out there have been some here in the states. One example is this lovely structure which I visited a few years ago with my husband on our second honeymoon. It’s thoroughly haunted, yes I did see a ghost, and part of a ghost tour in Charleston, SC. It was also for a time co-ed.
Life makes for the strangest stories and the best inspiration so I ripped another experience out of my mom’s life. While she attended the school for special kids she had a harrowing experience. During lunch one day she was attacked by a group of boys and nearly drug into the boys’ bathroom by her hair. I’ll let your imaginations figure out what they had planned. Luckily she was saved by a teacher. In Hybrid Lilata suffers a similar experience and is saved by Dros thus setting the tone of their relationship.
One last example of real life incorporated into Hybrid. I didn’t dwell a long time on the burning hair in Hybrid. Though unspoken it sticks with Dros. During one scene of Hybrid Dros overhears two boys laughing about how they tossed lit matches into Lilata’s hair before school. As always life itself is the best source of inspiration. During the time my mother attending her special school she was accosted by a group of boys on the walk home and had lit matches tossed into her hair. Luckily without permanent damage to her.
Both Underground Railroad and Hybrid were wild rides for me to write. I never knew where they were going to take me. I’m glad they’re over and I’m looking forward to seeing where the next book takes me.