Antler Dust is based on a woman I met many years ago while my wife and I were on a day-long horseback ride.
We were staying at this guest ranch for a week and this guide was simply A-plus. She was knowledgeable, fun, articulate, patient, and seemed to enjoy the outdoors in a way that was simply off the charts. Nothing was routine, every vista was to be savored. She also took us into some pretty amazing caves. She was one of the most knowledgeable outdoorsy people I've ever been around, thus the inspiration for the book.
In the years in took me to write Antler Dust the guide named Renee transformed into Allison Coil in my head--and on paper.
This weekend I was in Glenwood Springs signing books and I met a woman who is an outfitter. Not only did she know Renee -- at one time she employed her. Amazing. I've run into a few other people who know "of" Renee and knew her but this is the first person who knows what she's doing today and where she's living.
Why? I just want to say "thanks" to Renee after all these years -- and after all the activity around the book. Of course, I hope she reads the book too.
The main character of Antler Dust is based on the idea of Renee but of course all the character quirks and traits have nothing to do her with her (as far as I know). Nonetheless, it kind of gave me a little thrill today to know I might be "this close" to tracking her down.
I'd love to hear other stories, if they exist, about regular people who become the inspiration for a book--and if those real-life people every read what was written.