It’s April 2004 and the Flyers are in the playoffs. I’m at my mom’s for the weekend, her Wyomissing home being almost two hours from my Lansdale crapshack. And I did not travel all this way to watch hockey. I’m starving, haven’t eaten since breakfast and it’s now well past six and I’m not having it. She and Robert are watching the game, whooping and hollering, clapping and cursing and it’s like I’m six again, being ignored for some orange pajama clad men chasing a biscuit around a rink. I’m grumpy, to say the least. But it’s only the second period, I am told to shut up and entertain myself for the next hour or so. I go off to sulk in another room. I try reading, and eventually fall asleep. I don’t know how long I’m napping, but I’m jarred awake by screams of “Yeah! Woo-hoo!” coming from the family room. Then, “Ahhh! Shit! God damn it!” I fly off the couch in the living room and stalk into to family room. “How much longer?” I demand. Mom says, third period, ten minutes. Ten minutes in hockey could mean twenty. Overtime and you’re screwed. But I decide to sit and wait it out, knowing the minute it’s over I’ll be ushering them out the door. And not like I could concentrate on anything else with all the whooping anyway. So I watch. Half paying attention. And then . . .
He skates across the television screen. In my head I hear music. I sit up. “WHO IS THAT?” I ask mom. “Ew,” she snaps. “How should I know, he’s on the other team. Ew,” she concludes, in case I didn’t hear it the first time. But for me, it’s more like ooh. He looks like Brett on skates. In that instant I knew I had found my Vincent, the scowling but sexy bird-featured man Agatha first meets in the cemetery. I try to find him on the ice. The camera shows him a lot. Tampa Bay Lightning. Number 4. Lecavalier. Several minutes later the announcer says his full name. Vincent Lecavalier. My mouth drops open. My Vincent is named Vincent. Arty Party, who was sitting next to me hearing me rant for the past five minutes about how cute he was (yes, she agreed) and how he looked like Brett (yeah, he does, she said) and how he would make a perfect Vincent Vollrath (yep, you found him) snaps her head around to look at me, her jaw dropping as well. Mom and Robert don’t understand, probably don’t even hear. They are watching the Flyers, who end up losing the game. I don’t talk about Vincent for fear of being killed.
Once I get home I start taping the rest of the playoffs, of which the Lightning become the Eastern Conference champions. I’m very happy about this. Not only is Vincent winning and I’m proud I picked a winner, but because he is winning he gets to keep playing which means I get to keep seeing him. I pick up Attractive Bizarre again which has now become Bury My Lovely after an October Project song of the same title. Now that I know what Vincent looks like, I’m writing like a lunatic. I watch the Stanley Cup games, watch Jarome Iginla pick on Vincent and I hate him for it (to this day I still hate Iginla). I watch some other Calgary Flame slam Vincent’s head into the glass. He is cut and bleeding. Actual tears form in my eyes. But it makes it easier for me to write his character, to bang him up a bit. He’s 6’4″, just like my Vincent, and he can take it. The Lightning win the cup that year for the first time ever. My Superbee gives me a picture of Vincent from his hockey magazine so I can tape it onto the hutch of my desk. After all this flow, who could have seen . . .
The hockey strike. That’s right. No hockey the next year. No Vincent. I move to Vegas and without the constant exposure to my muse I once again shelf Bury My Lovely. Vegas has no national sports teams, and considering we’re in the desert, hockey is way down there on the list of them if we were to develop one. So I don’t necessarily forget about Vincent, but with meeting new people I have different influences and start writing other things. I meet a bartender who dabbles in screenwriting and filmmaking and we collaborate on a sitcom, I write a short story for him, the protagonist of which looks like Gerard Way because now I’m listening to a lot of My Chemical Romance, and I write a treatment for one of his scripts (not Gerard; the bartender). I start writing and submitting magazine articles (almost had one printed in Girls’ Life Teen Magazine, was in negotiations, but it fell through, I was so bummed out), looking for agents for Bike Route and We Were Innocent, finished a chick lit novel, dabbling all over the place. Once in a while I would take out my Bury My Lovely folder and read a bit, look at Vincent’s picture which was no longer on my desk, but the muse felt dead. Vincent was still the perfect Vincent, but the story was so complex and emotional I was completely overwhelmed.
In the fall of 2009, I’m not sure what prompted me to do so, but I took my binders of BML and started from the beginning, proofreading and correcting. I think I just thought I had a great story and I loved it and wanted to finish it and look for an agent. As I read it I realized how good it really was and started to get excited again. I found the hockey channel on cable and started recording all Lightning games. There was maybe one a month, but it supplied what I needed. January 2010 came and with it a renewed resolution to get this novel finished. “I just wish I could see him in person,” I said to AP. “It would be so much easier to feel the magic if I had him in front of me, if I could watch him do what he does so well. I got to see Brett perform; I want to see Vincent skate.”
“So why can’t you?” she asked.
Why can’t I, indeed. So I did.