Is there a problem officer?

My favorite kind of badge really

My favorite kind of badge really

A funny thing happened on the way to the sequel.

America’s a beautiful, brave, and litigious country. Amazon just got sued for making it too easy for children to spend money (do children over 30 count?). We like our structure, our rules, and our retribution. I imagine in certain circles it’s more unusual to never have been a defendant nor a plaintiff in a lawsuit, just as it’s unusual in certain other circles to never have been arrested.

Imagine my delight when I inadvertently discovered a way to  make myself a target for both.

Sequels are all about continuity and depth. If you’re an especially obsessive writer you mind the details that aren’t plot critical just as much as the details that are, because you have no idea what will become important to which Reader. Consistency is good, and it’s a skill I’m working on. I don’t know what house elves G.R.R. Martin entrusts with the hordes of Westeros and Asshai and everyone and everything in between, but I imagine it takes a village of continuity staff. Because if he does it all himself in that ancient word processing program he uses, I am officially not worthy. Ahem. Mortals such as myself reread our work, make Google our accomplice, and run the details over and over again. And then we do it some more.

When I created the suspicious Benton County (Washington state) Sheriff’s Department detective that gives Irene Chownyk some unexpected news, Google said go forth and name your character, no significant search results here. When I Googled some details yesterday morning, the search engine said “Hey you know that’s a real cop right?” Cue palpitations.

I pulled, entirely out of thin air, the first and last name for a fictional Benton County Sheriff’s Department detective, a combination that you guessed it, matched an ACTUAL Benton County Sheriff police officer, with no prior knowledge of his existence whatsoever.

The largest city in Benton County is Kennewick at around 75,000 people. Neighboring Richland, WA is approximately 52,000 people. Try explaining to an individual in a possible pool of approximately 175,000 people total, that you just happened to name a character their first and last name that does the same job and lives in the same actual geographical area. Now give that person handcuffs and a gun. You can see my dilemma.

I turned to the trusty greybeards of the Kindle writing community, and they all said, “Pooh pooh, you have a copyright page disclaimer right? This sort of thing just happens. Legally you should have no problem getting a judge or jury to recognize that coincidences happen.” And for all of 30 seconds I thought maybe this isn’t such a big deal, more a little oops. I went back to the Council and said “Um, cop?” The roar of change that shit right now was  deafening.

And so Reader, I did.

Broken Wave is almost upon you, only a few days left for the GoodReads giveaway, and any winning entrant who is also on my mailing list will receive autographed copies of Girl Out of Water as well as Broken Wave.

Learn to Swim indeed.

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