Today I’m stepping out of my editor and publisher role and writing as author Alyssa Aaron…my alter ego who writes erotic romance.
A couple of days ago my mom called to invite me to the exotic animal auction in Macon, Missouri. The sale is a huge event, reported to be the largest exotic animal sale in the US. It’s a sale where zoos and petting farms buy and sell animals. It’s also a place where people who enjoy exotic animals, parrots, monkeys, llamas, Alpacas, and other animals come to buy and sell them.
I’m not attending the sale this time as I have some other obligations, but I did attend the spring sale with my mom, my sister, and my niece Lauraya. The experience, my first visit to an exotic animal auction, was surreal in a way.
The sale is held at a livestock auction barn where cattle, pigs, and horses are sold the rest of the year. Having grown up raising and breaking horses I’ve been to livestock auctions most of my life so the surroundings are familiar. But the atmosphere at an exotic sale is unique…and in some ways makes you wonder if perhaps you’ve slipped into one of the wormholes purported to exist in our universe and popped up into an alternate reality.
People walk through aisles with small monkeys dressed in diapers and dresses perched on their shoulders. It’s not odd to see someone with a monkey on their shoulder. In fact, it’s rather common. A lot of people are walking around with monkeys riding a hip like a small child or perched on a shoulder. Booths are set up outside the sale where people sell clothing for monkeys.
A lot of the people sitting around the auction ring or walking through the aisles at the back are carrying bags from which the heads of baby wallaby peek. Wallaby, like kangaroos, mature in their mother’s pouches. Wallaby raised in captivity are removed from their mother’s pouches when they are old enough and are moved to cloth bags that look something like single pocket purses. At the last sale my sister and my niece sat next to some people who had a baby wallaby and my niece got to bottle feed the wallaby. That was definitely the highlight of her visit to the exotic sale.
Going to an exotic animal auction would be a unique experience for most people I think. It was for me.
But I think that being an author causes me to process experiences differently from people who aren’t authors. For my sister who isn’t a writer it’s an experience…something to do…something to enjoy…but she’s not cataloging the experience in her mind as it happens thinking about how she might later USE the experience in some way in a story. I AM.
As an author I am ALWAYS thinking about how I might use an experience, a thought, a scene in a story. Even my own mixed feelings about whether we ought to be selling exotic animals at all are processed through a lens of story-telling. Within the experience that is going on in my real life there is a shadow experience of “what if” that is going on mentally alongside it.
My stories always start with what if… What if a woman sold her monkey and then later wanted it back? What if a man and a woman were on different sides of whether exotic animals should be sold at all? What if someone who was against selling exotic animals was trying to shut the sale down? What if a husband and wife who owned a zoo were divorcing and were forced to liquidate their exotic animals at the sale…what emotions would be involved? What would make them change their minds and decide to give their marriage another chance at the last minute? What obstacles would they face as they tried to put their broken marriage back together?
One of the things I like most about being a writer is that knowledge, experiences, thoughts and feelings never have to go to waste. Most anything can be fodder for a story. The more odd or unusual an experience the harder it sometimes is to fit it into a story…but it can still be done. For me I think that’s one of the joys of being a writer.
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