This one time at Writer's Camp…
Panic Attack Moment
I literally had to stop writing a few minutes ago. I started having horrible flashbacks and — I think — a panic attack.
That was odd. I’ve never had one before.
Recap: 11 years ago my older brother Shawn committed suicide. I was 23 at the time and he was pretty much the only sibling I had as a role model. No, he wasn’t my only sibling. Hell, he was “only” a foster brother. But Shawn was my life support when I was waterski racing, my observer, the guy who told the driver (my dad) to slow the hell down or to gun it. He checked my equipment, thwapped me on the head with his knob finger when I was being stupid, and was pretty much the coolest older brother in the world. I had a role model to look up to. I had me someone who I could relate to, to aspire to be like.
Which is why his suicide hurt so bad and pretty much screwed me up emotionally for a few years.
I’ve lost numerous friends throughout the years. It’s one of the things about being a child in the system: a lot of the kids you knew when you were in group homes die or end up in jail before they’re 25. From one of my old group homes alone (a 12 kid house), I know I am the only person either not in prison or dead. That’s not a comforting rate.
When I decided to change a few things about Christian Cole in The Green Jewel, one of the things I realized I needed to do was to cause some conflict in a house that was a very sturdy foundation for the boy. I knew that Christian would need his entire family as a bedrock, but that there needed to be something wrong there. I also originally had Chase as a foster kid at another home who died early on in. But it didn’t ring right to me. It wasn’t… right? I don’t know if that’s the correct word or not. But I didn’t know how to work Chase into the story until it came to me awhile back, after I realized that I was now older than Shawn was when he died. I outlived my older brother, something I never wanted to happen. It hit me hard.
Chase needed to be Christian’s older brother. His death would nearly shatter a household that, up until Chase’s death, had been rock-solid. It also created ways for me to let Christian slip around without being noticed, as well as give him reason and cause to do things that most of us would deem “pretty stupid”.
Okay, panic attack is subsiding. Back to writing this damned book.