I am not a vampire, but I was born half a century ago in the very tiny town of Forks, Washington.
We moved to Port Angeles, an hour’s drive away, when I was still an infant; but my paternal grandmother remained in Forks, where she owned and operated the town’s only theater through at least five decades and nine U.S. presidents. It poured rain just about every time we visited her. To this day, I honestly have no idea which way is east or west in Forks, because I don’t recall ever seeing the sun out there. No wonder it became a very popular hangout for vampires!
Growing up in Port Angeles, I enjoyed, or at least in adolescence suffered, the less than stellar distinction of being just about the only person in my high school class born in dreary, piddly, puddly old Forks.
I dreamed of becoming a famous writer, the kind whose fans would descend like a plague of locusts upon little Forks, Washington, where they would make pilgrimages to the hospital where I was born (the doctor who brought me into the world was a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, to which I attribute my penchant for cooking and enjoying huge quantities of goulash). They would visit the charming little house where I used to visit my grandmother. And they would pose for photos in front of the theater where I first saw Gone With the Wind at the age of eight, when I would’ve much preferred to stay at home with the younger siblings and their babysitter to watch Heidi on TV—or come back to Forks the following weekend to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Maybe Forks would name a street after me. Or do like Myrtle Beach, SC did with Vanna White, and post a sign at the city limits proclaiming itself the birthplace of author Karen Lingefelt. Or do like Salzburg, Austria did with Mozart, and sell chocolates and cookie tins with my picture on them.
Ah, but my caffeine-fueled, feverish imagination didn’t stop there. Before True Pretenses, I wrote a series of books that chronicled seven generations of a fictional European royal family. I used to think how cool it would be if the series ever got published and became so wildly popular, that people planning their European vacations would try to book flights and bus tours and hotels in this make-believe kingdom that existed nowhere but in my head. How gleefully I would laugh all the way to the bank!
Obviously such hilarity never ensued. But I was reminded of all this recently when my father sent me an e-mail which, with his permission, I have excerpted here:
As you know Forks has become a destination place because of this "Twilight Saga." There are stores there and in Port Angeles, (and maybe Port Townsend) that cater to the enthusiasts. In Forks you see tourists having their pictures taken in front of anything described in the first book. One moron (24 years old) got himself stranded on James Island at LaPush because he wanted to see one of the love nest "sites" described there in the book. The Coast Guard picked him off with a helicopter.
Anyway, I guess all this hoopla makes you an original Twilight Child seeing as how you were born in this now-famous place! I know you've considered Forks as a sort of backwater town. But it has now evolved and you can say: ".........Forks? Oh.......yeah, I was born there."
Alas, when reality bites, it bites with the fangs of a vampire, for ’twas not to be Karen Lingefelt of True Pretenses fame who put Forks on the map, but another author, Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame.
But I think it’s just as well. The idea of chocolates with my likeness on the wrappers is embarrassing, and I’d hate to think a fan of mine who wanted to see the ravine where Lausanne crashed her car, would get stuck down there and have to be plucked out by a Coast Guard helicopter and treated for exposure. Lausanne survived—but what if the fan hadn’t?
I sometimes wonder what my grandmother, who passed away in 2000, would think of the whole Twilight thing—but not as much as I wonder what she would think of the whole True Pretenses thing.
Except for Chapter 15, I think she would have been thrilled to pieces.