From a very young age, I was always told I had a creative imagination. In fact, my grandmother always used to tell me I should one day write a book of excuses with all my crazy ideas on how to get out of trouble.

Well, I didn’t end up writing a book of excuses but I did write an urban fantasy called How to Hunt a Menacing Magical Shadow, and I based almost the entire thing on the personalities of people I knew and similar situations I related to personally.

For starters, Adrian, my main character, is loosely based on me. He has short brown curls, brown eyes, and isn’t one to turn heads. The majority of us aren’t powerful male bodybuilders or stunningly attractive women with supermodel bodies, and I wanted my character to reflect that. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not in the best shape, and I sure do love my red velvet cupcakes. I even have a similar scar from having the chickenpox when I was younger, right next to my left eyebrow. In grammar school, I’d sometimes get teased for being unpopular (and let’s face it, a bit weird). Just like Adrian, I’d throw back a witty comment, catching my bully off guard. Sometimes, I’d just agree and laugh along with them.

Adrian isn’t the only person based on a real person. Mike and Julie are the names of my brother and sister-in-law. My brother had quite literally been a rocket scientist for NASA at one point, and my sister-in-law can’t even talk about what she does. Some of the villains in the story I won’t mention, but were based on people I had trouble with in my past. Perhaps the best character in the story is Porky the talking pug, inspired by my beloved wrinkled fur ball named TonTon.

I am thankful to have a wonderful family, still alive and well. That part was added purely for the sake of the story, but what about all the places Adrian visits? Those are inspired by real memories as well.

When I was in college, I used to have this recurring dream where I was being chased through a forest by some mysterious being I could never get a good look at. I kept subconsciously telling myself to wake up, but I couldn’t move my limbs or will my mind to force itself back to reality. It was an utterly terrifying experience and it felt so real to me. I’d wake up, remembering the whole thing like I had been right there living it. I’d see the shadow of a car flash against a wall or smell a pine tree and it would trigger a flashback of being hunted. In the story, Adrian experiences a similar dream. Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll just say I’m pretty certain my dream was not caused by some crazy magic manipulating me.

The pizza joint also was a special place for me. In high school, there was an amazing pizza place next to the school where we’d always hang out when class ended. The airplane hangar where Adrian meets Mike and Julie is a nod to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in DC, a place frequently visited when I take a trip to see my brother. The giant science lab is also based on a dream, where it’s the end of the world and my sole purpose is to find and save my dog before time runs out. Why she was in a pharmaceutical lab, I’ll probably never know but I did eventually rescue her!

I’m especially excited for book 2 in the Black Sheep series, How to Rescue a Stubborn Savage Princess. In this story, we meet Zulli, a character created by a Starbucks name mix up when my sister-in-law ordered her latte. She’s a shapeshifting spider, because my video doorbell would continuously pick up a creepy eight legged creature crawling over the camera almost every night over the summer, alerting me that “an unfamiliar face has been spotted at the front door.”

I think my grandmother was right when she said I had a creative mind, and I hope that by learning more about my unconventional thought process behind my writing, that you’ll be able to understand and enjoy it even more!