The Story Behind Fifty Frogs

27 Jun 2017

One of the most frequently-asked questions of authors is, “Where do you find inspiration?” I always answer readers that my characters come to me, usually suggested by someone I’ve met or overheard, whose situation or unique aspect suggests a backstory to me. It can happen standing in line at the pharmacy, sitting at a restaurant or passing people in the grocery store. Sometimes, though, those characters live a little bit closer to home . . . or even in my home.

Along with my business partner, I organize and run Indie BookFest, an author education and reader appreciation weekend that takes place annually in central Florida. Last year, Indie BookFest fell the same weekend that Hurricane Matthew hit Florida. While we were all safe, thankfully, the weather impacted the event, and by its end, I was understandably exhausted.

One of my dear friends, Gail, is an author who was featured at IBF. She and I, along with my 25-year old daughter, were driving to my house after the event. We were around the corner from home when I spied a turtle in the middle of the road. Of course, we stopped and attempted to turn the poor fellow back toward the lake, but he moved very fast—very un-turtle-like!-to hide under my car. As I eased the car forward, Mr. Turtle moved, too, so that we couldn’t reach him.

Just then, an attractive young man appeared on the scene to help us. He was sweet to us, and over the course of the rescue, Gail opened the back door to the car and said to my daughter, “You need to get out and say hello! He’s so cute!”

That scene stayed with me for days, and before too long, it had birthed a new character—Vivian, a woman in her mid-twenties who is fed up with dating, and thanks to the suggestion of her aunt Gail, decides to kiss a lot of frogs and write about her experiences in a quest for both a career bump and true love.

I didn’t have to look very far for amusing first-date stories. Having two single, twenty-something daughters at home means that I hear plenty of harrowing tales involving meeting guys—and what happens on dates, not to mention what happens when things go awry. And happily for me, my girls are good spots about letting me use their experiences. Of course, I change names and tweak details to protect the innocent—and the not-so-innocent!

Vivian doesn’t have an easy time of it. Finding love in the twenty-first century is not for the faint of heart, and because I see this first-hand, it was important that among the humor and craziness, there’s also some heartache . . . just a little angst. And because a love story wouldn’t be complete with some sizzle, there’s also heat to spare once Vivian finds a frog whose kisses make her melt.

Now, wouldn’t it be a perfect ending if I could tell you that on the day Gail and I helped rescue the turtle and met the cutie from around the corner, my daughter got out of the car and found true love with the boy around the corner? Ah, well, life never runs as smoothly as fiction does. She actually stayed in the car—maybe the real Gail and I aren’t as pushy as Vivian’s mom and aunt. But you know, that guy is still in the neighborhood. Who knows?

Maybe there’s another love story waiting to happen!

– Tawdra Kandle

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