‘Twas peculiar when I first started working national fencing tournaments, and someone who knew of my homeschooling books turned out to be a fencer. Even though my daughters and I always thought fencing was a great sport for homeschoolers, being both individual and social, it always felt strange when our fencing and homeschooling worlds mixed unexpectedly.
(And then there was the time when I was working a big event with a woman I’d known from bout committee for years and we got to talking about alternative education while we were waiting for pools to come in. After she’d listened to me spout off about something or other, she looked at me funny, and said, “Good grief, are you that Mary Griffith?” Turned out I was—she’d homeschooled her son for a while and had read my books years earlier.)
Now I’m bracing myself for a collision between my real fencing world and my fictional fencing world. It’s not at all unexpected, of course, since much of the fictional version is based on my experiences in the real world. Mostly, I think the collision is good—it’ll give me a chance to see whether my fictional version has the right feel. Have I got the little details right to give the fictional version the texture of the real one? And have I developed my characters well enough to make them their own people and not just thinly disguised cardboard versions of real people I’ve met in the fencing world? It’s not just that I don’t want to be actionable for libel—I also don’t want every reader distracted by trying to figure out who each character is in real life. I want a real story that will stand on its own, whether the reader knows anything about fencing or not.
But it’ll be a little strange wandering through the GWCC in Atlanta and hearing echoes in my head of my own characters in among all the fencing noises.
Of course, if the past tournaments in Atlanta are any indication, I may not ever think of anything unrelated to the events happening right in front of me the whole ten days I’m there. Something about 6,500+ entries . . .