the oddest kind of inspiration

Maybe odd isn’t the right word. Inconvenient? Yes, that works.

When I can’t sleep and all efforts at self hypnosis fail, I often find myself bombarded with bits and pieces of the thing I’m working on. Ideas about characters, input from the characters themselves, structural questions, visual ones. I put together maps in my head and then play with them. All of this happens when I’d rather be sleeping. It’s like being forced to watch a movie, or worse, to take part in one.

Every once in a while something good comes out of such sessions. This morning at about four, for example, I got an image of index cards filled with notes written in an elegant hand, with a fountain pen. Each card had a brief description of one person, and all the people being described worked in the shops located in Lambert Square in my fictional Greenbriar, South Carolina. Lambert Square is a renovated textile mill/factory that has been transformed into shops and public spaces, you see. That’s where the bulk of Pajama Jones takes place.

The person who has written these index cards is a rather odd guy who has sold his Lambert Square business (antique and collectible pens and high end paper) to John Adams Dodge. All the negotiations and legal work was carried out by courier service, and Mr. Cowper will have left on a long trip before Dodge ever gets to Greenbriar. So in the last packet of papers Dodge finds a these index cards, provided by Mr. Cowper as a study guide and introduction to Lambert Square.

This provides me with some structure, and it makes Mr. Cowper happy. As Dodge hasn’t even seen the cards yet, I’m not sure how he’ll react, but I think he’ll be amused.