Tell Me a Story: The Best “Mistake” that Ever Happened To Me

tell your storyAllie Boniface stopped over to tell us a story:

Once upon a time, I lived in Cleveland, Ohio. Now, Cleveland gets a bad rap a lot of the time; in fact, its nickname is still “the mistake on the lake.” I don’t know whether the bad rap is because of the city’s brutal winters, or its perpetually losing sports teams, or perhaps because the Cuyahoga River, that runs right through downtown, was so polluted that it caught on fire back in 1969.

But me? I ended up loving the four years I spent there. I was a graduate student for two of those years and a community college instructor for another two after that. This was in the mid-1990s, when both The Flats and the Indians were at their zenith. My friends and I would dance until dawn at the nightclubs that had grown up in the old factory buildings along the river, and we would try our best to get tickets to the sold-out baseball games in the summers of 1995 and 1996. The city was alive, beautiful, and bustling; it had (still has) an amazing orchestra, research university, and cutting-edge hospitals. It has suburbs as different in nature as any you’ll find outside of any major city, and I learned more about diversity from living there than anywhere else in my life.

But what really happened while I lived in Cleveland was the slow evolution of what would become the author inside me. I didn’t write while I lived there. But in the years since, I have found time and time again that many of my story ideas come from that time spent in northern Ohio.

Eddie, my hero from The Promise of Paradise, is based on a real-life close friend who went to graduate school with me and who was, in fact, involved in a serious car accident that left him with facial scars.

The haunted lighthouse in Beacon of Love had its first inklings of thought during a day trip to Put-in-Bay, a lovely little town about an hour away from Cleveland with – of course – a lighthouse!

Finally, the idea for one of the sub-plots in Inferno of Love, the restaurant fire that turns Finn into a reluctant hero, came from the many nights my girlfriends and I spent at The Basement, a popular dance club down in The Flats. The place was always crowded, and we got there early so we didn’t have to wait outside in line.

One night I remember thinking, “This place is packed. Wonder where the back exit is? Wonder if they even have a back exit?” And that turned into the classic writer’s ‘what if” that became “What would happen if this place caught fire?” There was a bouncer inside who always stood in the same spot near the dance floor, a big burly guy who came to know us after a while, and around the same time that I was wondering about fires, I pictured him being the one to drag people out. He was that hero type. (By the way, Finn’s name is an adaptation of Phoenix, a reference to the mythical creature that rises from the ashes, since he saves seven people from a burning building. I’ve never mentioned that piece of trivia anywhere before, so you heard it here first!)

It wasn’t until five or six years after leaving Cleveland that I started writing in earnest, with an eye on publication, but those moments and memories were stored away in my head, just waiting for the right story to make an appearance. Fascinating, isn’t it?

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Thank you so much for having me here today! If you’d like to know more about Inferno of Love (or any of my books!) stop by www.allieboniface.com/books. And to whet your appetite, here’s the blurb and trailer for Inferno of Love:

What happens when your soul mate returns after twelve long years — and has no idea who you are?

One teenage summer, Finn and Aubrey fell in love in the tiny coastal town of Lindsey Point. But that was before a local fire turned him into a hero and a horrific accident stole her memory. When they finally reunite years later, sparks fly and memories return — but so do long-lost secrets and locals who want them to stay buried. Now Finn and Aubrey must come to terms with the past if they have any chance of building a future together… 

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3 Comments

Filed under Tell Me a Story

3 responses to “Tell Me a Story: The Best “Mistake” that Ever Happened To Me

  1. Thank you for the fascinating story!

  2. mariannesciucco

    Thanks for this lovely little article, Allie. I enjoyed hearing about your time in Cleveland (a city I’ve never visited ) and how it continues to inspire you to write. I think all writers have a wealth of information buried deep down inside which they bring out in their work, often surprising themselves as well as those readers who are close to them or have lived through the same experiences.

  3. allieboniface

    Thanks, Marianne!

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