The Edge of Night, the place between the darkness and the dawn. For Derrick, it’s a place of memories, the most difficult part of the night to get through. There are moments of reflection when he trips and tumbles head long into the past, surrounded by all of the things his parents left behind in the house he inherited and never expected to live in again.
Photos and old vinyl records are like a map through his childhood, like my own vinyl records inherited from my dad. In truth, that’s where I drew the inspiration from. As I listened to some of the music Derrick listened to at night, with his foundling kitty on his lap, I was transported back to my attic loft, scratchy hippy-trippy acid rock on the stereo, and speaker wire I’d have to cut and splice whenever the ends grew too worn out.
As I sat writing this, usually late into the night, I was often reminded of the places I’d called ‘home’ over the years. Places like Derrick’s apartment, fully furnished so even upon his leaving there wasn’t anything to linger as a reminder that he was ever there, reminded me of my first apartment during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college. Eating meals and playing cards off the same folding table, the only shred of furniture I’d brought with me. Blanket nests for beds, old lumpy easy chairs that looked as if they’d been in the apartment for years, a nomad’s home, the lair of a wonderer, and that’s exactly what Derrick had become.
In contrasting it with his childhood home, I wanted to show the place he started out and how he was able to come full circle and learn the value of everything he’d left behind along the way. That it became a second chance novel was a pleasant surprise, especially considering the entire story was born of a writing prompt suggesting that the main character just received lifechanging news.
Written over the course of this past winter, when it was so cold here in Iowa that you couldn’t even go outside for longer than the dog needed to use the lawn, Tripping Over the Edge of Night felt, in a lot of ways, like I was writing the story I’d wished I’d had unfold in my own life with my own homecoming. Fifteen years is a long time not to see the places you loved. Like Derrick discovered, many things had changed and some of the things that had stayed the same had lost their luster. It was a process to ease back into life in his small time, to put names to the faces of those who came up to him and asked questions, talked about remembering them when he couldn’t even recall how he knew them. But somewhere in that process there were lessons and opportunities too, and I hope that I was able to convey Derrick’s discovery that the night wasn’t so dark if he had someone to share it with.