As some of you know, I am an enormous history buff. And a bit of an obsessive personality. Therefore it is not uncommon for me to sprinkle historical characters, some better disguised than others, into my fiction, as sort of personal Easter Eggs. It started out as a bit of fun and because I’m a nerd, but now I am discovering a new purpose.
Let me rewind the tape player here for a moment. I learned this morning of Peter Tork’s passing. If you’re of my generation (read: older than dirt), you’ll remember Peter as the goofy one of The Monkees, that fabricated pop band of the 60s. The death hit me like a punch to the gut. As Freddy might have said, ‘Another one bites the dust’.
For me, it has been a hard few years for celebrity deaths. When 2016 started out with the deaths of David Bowie, Glenn Frey, and Alan Rickman, I began to dread the next ‘event’. They seemed to come fast and furious and I felt I was losing the touchstones of my youth. Recently however, it has dawned on me that it wasn’t some sort of cosmic culling of my favorite people. It wasn’t some celestial recall. It was more to do with Time.
Those icons of my youth are simply starting to hit their expiration dates. It’s not a matter of a bad year, it’s become the norm. As sad and disheartening as it is, I must face the fact that my heroes, those people who helped me through my adolescent dark nights of the soul, cannot live forever.
Ah, said the writer in me, but they can! Eureka!
All I have to do is pepper these folks into my fiction. I can make them young and vigorous again – just like the Six Million Dollar Man. I can inform a character with all their lovable, quirky, endearing traits, and maybe even a few of their more conflicted bits, and they’ll live forever on the pages of my stories.
So, be prepared. One of these days in the not so distant future, you may be reading one of my steampunk adventures from The Harrogate Chronicles and say, hey, that highwayman reminds me of Tom Petty. Or you’ll be enjoying one of the Gatekeeper fantasy novels and you’ll think, dang, Alan Rickman would be PERFECT in that role, and then you’ll smile. And I will too. And our heart’s pain will ease a little.
Requiescat in pace, Peter Tork. You will be missed – but not forgotten.