You would think this would be an easy question to answer. But it depends on which part of their lives a person finds the most formative. On where they trace the roots of their identity to. The people, places, and events that shaped them most. In my case, that was my years at Cal Berkeley, the six spent on campus as a college student, and the additional four or so spent living in Berkeley and working in San Francisco (just a train ride away under the bay).
Berkeley, you see, is where all the great social causes of the world take root. At least it was back when I went. We’d like to think that elevated state of consciousness has since dispersed more evenly around the world today, but devotees of the area would likely beg to disagree on that score even now. I remember the days spent in Sproul Plaza handing out leaflets for pro-environmental causes (being one of the original tree huggers) right next to a booth featuring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (gay men who wear nuns habits), and on the other side of us was a booth championing attending classes in the nude at Cal as one of the basic human rights. I smile now, of course, looking back on it all, when I don’t outright double over laughing. But my wild, zany, entirely over the top characters would likely be a lot less colorful and believable had I not lived in Berkeley and the Bay Area for so many years. And my championing of human rights is a lot more informed today as a carryover of that consciousness I’ve since tried to take everywhere with me.
Did any of this fondness for quirky characters bleed into the writing of Love on the Run? You bet. Though the situation for my hero and heroine and their on-again, off-again sidekicks is entirely reversed. In their case they’re trying to survive the culturally vacuous burbs, feeling like ducks out of water. When their refusal to let circumstances and surroundings get the best of them takes shape in the form of an action plan, the reader might be inclined to feel they are over-compensating. I mean, how often does an out-of-work risk assessment manager take on robbing banks, exactly, even if it is to pay for his wife’s cancer therapy? And how customary is it for septuagenarians with one foot in the grave to decide to tag along, at least for certain legs of their journey? And then there is the homeless boy they adopt along the way into their ad hoc family. One might be inclined to think it’s not danger or money they’re really after, so much as a renewed sweetness to life that has long since lost its taste.
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