Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Motel from Hell by Brenda Whiteside

Getting inspiration from a setting
In every book I've written, there's a piece of me or someone I've known. It could be a phrase that someone I know likes to use. It could be gesture or a style of dress. There might be a setting or a restaurant or a favorite food. I've used my personality traits as well as others.

Or it could be a whole scene from real life. Years ago, my brother spent a miserable night in a motel, but as he told it to me, had me laughing my head off. I promised it would someday show up in a book. Two books later, I used that scene for my male protagonist in The Power of Love and Murder, the fourth book in the series, and my latest release.

This is the scene that led to the book. Please keep in mind, the character isn't my brother. But the hotel was real.

Sometime later, he jerked awake and knocked the book from his chest. He was freezing. He pulled the sheet and blanket over his head, but the chill reached all the way to his toes. Silence. No click, click, bonk noise of the heater. He slid one arm out, brought his cell under the covers, and pushed a button. Four twelve a.m. 

Reluctantly, he turned on the lamp, shivered out of bed, and padded three feet to the heater. He leaned over and shut it off then turned it on. Punched low, high, and fan-only buttons over and over. He pounded on the plastic top. “Son of a…” Switching off and on once more got no results. His toes were iced by the outside air flowing under the door. He grabbed his jeans off the chair and stuffed them along the bottom of the door then climbed back under the covers. 

The thin blanket and sheet were no match for the drop in temperature. After fifteen minutes of trying to think warm, he had an idea. Out of bed, he jogged to the bathroom and turned the shower to hot, full blast. Immediately, the air around him warmed. He let the chill on his skin subside then headed back to bed and yanked off the sheet, blanket, and pillow. He slipped on his shirt and underwear and carried the bedding back to the bathroom. The floor looked kind of nasty and the sheet, doubled over next to the shower, covered the old linoleum. Wrapping the blanket around him, he settled on top, bumped his knees on the wall, and hunched his shoulders to fit. Good thing he wasn’t a particularly big man. His legs were long on his five foot ten frame and difficult to fold small enough, like a stork squeezing into a wren’s nest. Hopefully, the running, hot water would keep him warm enough to get a few more hours of sleep. 

“Ass wipe.” The curse directed at his shyster boss muffled into his pillow. Another curse at himself for all the wrong decisions he’d made that landed him in this position didn’t fully form on his lips. Instead, he recited Step Ten. Continue the personal inventory. What the hell. This might be a crummy hotel, and he was cold and tired, but he felt every shivering, crappy moment of it. Not that a shot of Chopin Vodka to warm him didn’t cross his mind. He would’ve had several and a few snorts, this time last year. And he wouldn’t have felt the cold…or the hard floor…or much of anything else. 

Thoughts of a few nights in crummy hotels when his band, Flash Theory, struggled to make a name for themselves played in his head. That brought him wondering about Ian, the English drummer who shared his arrest date. “Bugger you, Ian.” The profanity he’d adopted from the Englishman rolled over his tongue with a smile. He hadn’t contacted his favorite band mate and best friend since sobriety. They weren’t a good influence on each other. Maybe one of these days… 

About an hour and a half later, he woke, cold again and his legs cramping. He pulled his knees to his chest and rolled toward the bathroom door, glancing at the ceiling. “What the…” Strips of paint hung like confetti from a New Year’s Eve party. Had the ceiling looked like that last night? He scrambled to his feet, tangled in the blanket, and tripped on the sheet bunching on the floor. He caught himself on the back of the toilet, but his hip hit the bar on the shower door. “Ow!” After turning off the now cold shower water, he extricated his legs from the bedding and surveyed the ceiling again. “Ah, man.” Surely he hadn’t caused that. The place was a dump. Yeah, probably already peeling long before he turned on the shower. 

The time had come to flee the motel from hell. 

After throwing the blanket and sheet on the bed, he brushed his teeth, and smoothed his beard with a comb. He ran a brush through his hair as he squinted into the cloudy mirror above the sink. Dark curls fell onto his forehead in spite of his effort, and he shrugged, turning from the poor excuse of a mirror. He stuffed his toiletries in the duffle, then loped to the door and retrieved his jeans from the floor. His frozen jeans. 

Damp air combined with below freezing wind from under the door had rendered his pants stiff.

I'm glad my brother had such a miserable night!

RONE Awards Finalist, The Power of Love and Murder, is currently on sale for $1.99.


Leah St. James said...

Fantastic scene, Brenda. I love this analogy: "His legs were long on his five foot ten frame and difficult to fold small enough, like a stork squeezing into a wren’s nest." I can picture that vividly!

My sympathies to your poor brother, though, for having to endure that night!

Wishing you much success with the book!

Diane Burton said...

What a scene! That truly was the motel from hell. All it needed was bugs. Of course, it was probably too cold for bugs. lol Loved the stork in a wren's nest analogy, too.

Jannine Gallant said...

Terrific scene, Brenda. Sounds like you have a complex hero. Love the vivid image of the room.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks, Leah, Diane, and Jannine. In my first version, I forgot the pealing ceiling paint. When I ran it by my brother, he added that little detail. I had fun with this character. He has depth, good sides, bad sides.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Great scene. Made me even feel sorry for your poor brother. Love your hero already!

Alicia Dean said...

Ha, I'm sorry your brother went through that, but it did lead to a fantastic scene. Good job! I felt like I was there.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks, Margo and Alicia.

Rolynn Anderson said...

What a story! Good for you for taking a stranger than fiction event and giving it a place in your work. I'm sure your brother loves the fact that so many people will commiserate with him on his horrible experience. I do hate to be cold...I'd never stay in a room that was freezing...I don't know how he did it!

Brenda Whiteside said...

He didn't have much choice, Rolynn. That was years ago when he'd hit a low point in his business and was really broke, just like my hero. Luckily, not in rehab though! He does get a kick out of appearing in my book in some way.