This oil painting is Highway 3 in North Central Iowa. The little town of Rowan is dead ahead on the South side of the road. The year is probably about 1984.
Brent Clarke is a fictional character in several of my novels. He is pictured here with the actual water tower of Rowan, used to portray the fictional water tower of Norwall, Iowa from my novels. In 1984 Brent would have been about 22 or 23 years old. The people the character is based on would have been 28 or 30 in 1984 depending on which one you think he is more like. I will not, of course, tell you who… because you could argue there is no one answer to that question. He is arguably me at some point in every story he is in.
Valerie Clarke is as close as I can come to declaring I have a main fictional character in my novels. She was 11 in 1984, the year that the book Snow Babies is set. The real girls she is based on would have been 28 in 1984 (my former classmate) and 3 years old (my former student.)
Milt Morgan is a fictional me-character, although I can argue he is almost equally based on the “Other Mike” that I grew up with. He was a year older than me and one grade ahead of me in school. In 1984 the character would have been 23. I was 28 and the Other Mike was 29. This portrait was made from a school picture of me. But somehow it also looks a lot like the Other Mike.
This is Anneliese Stein. She is a fictional character based on stories I was told. She was thirteen years old in 1945 when she died at Auschwitz. Her mother brought her back to life as a gingerbread girl in 1975 using fairy magic. Well, possibly through the magic of her mother, Gretel Stein, as a storyteller. And, according to the story that was told, she became a Storybook Fairy when her mother died and became a fairy too.
This is Bobby Niland, a fictional character from several of my novels. He is based entirely on a student from one of my classes in the 90s. The fictional Bobby was only six in 1984. The real Bobby probably seven in 1984. In the story Horatio T. Dogg, Bobby was fourteen and a half.
You can easily see that, because of living a long life with an extra-vivid imagination, not all of my real memories are of real things. There is more to it than meets the eye. This is an imaginary portrait of Valerie again, this time at the age of seventeen. It is one more imaginary thing hopelessly intertwined with all the real things I remember.