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Archive for September 2011

Me at 8

I met Abbie at Girl Scout camp the summer I was eight. As if being funny, bright, adventurous, and daring weren’t enough, Abbie was all blue eyes, dark curls, fun, and mischief. We bonded that summer and broke all rules of Camp Wildwood regarding creek wading, tree climbing, and general decorum for little girls. When school started I sorely missed her, finding myself surrounded by regular girls and their talk of piano, tap, and ballet lessons. I knew if Abbie went to my school, things would be different; we’d write plays and be pirates or bank robbers. Every summer we found each other on the first day of camp and, probably much to the distress of the prevailing adults, created our own games, turning the camp into our own mystical kingdom. Too soon, childhood faded away and my family moved from Vincennes. Summers with Abbie were fond memories and I found new friends, but no one ever equaled Abbie’s wit and personality. Later, I heard she went off to college, then moved to California. I completely lost track of her as I went about my life.

Many years later, when my first book was published, I attended a mystery conference. Someone noticed my nametag and murmured, “Hmm, you’re from Indiana. Ever hear of Abigail Padgett? She’s from Indiana and she’s my favorite mystery writer.” I was stunned. My Abbie was a mystery writer? In retrospect, I don’t know why it surprised me so much; it was the perfect profession for someone with her imagination. I immediately began a search for her name and books. I ordered all of them and smiled to see she had used my name for one of her characters. Interestingly, I had used her name in my second book, which was almost finished. Through the magic of the Internet, Abbie and I were soon reunited via email and sent messages back and forth until all the “catching up” was sufficiently done. She told me of plans to teach a summer course on mystery writing at Harvard and would be driving cross country – coming right through Indiana. (summer 2002)  Of course, she stayed with me, and we revisited the haunts of our youth and even did a joint book signing at our old scout camp. In my latest book, Back to Bailey’s Chase, I set a chapter at Camp Wildwood and gave the two young protagonists, Sparky and Grey Bailey, some of the same adventures Abbie and I shared as children.

Since then, we’ve read each other’s newest books on our Kindles, sent notes periodically, and left comments on each other’s blogs. Last weekend, Abbie sent a message that she was researching a new book and planned to be in Vincennes on Monday. Did I want to meet at Bobe’s for pizza? (If you grew up in this area, you grew up on Bobe’s pizza and no other pizza touches its golden glory.) On Monday evening, I met Abbie at the legendary pizzeria, and we spent 3 hrs filling in the gaps of the last nine years. We giggled, shared secrets, swapped titles of favorite books and movies, told spooky stories, and expressed regrets that our friends had all gotten old. She boasted she could still dance, and I had to tell her I could still back-flip off the diving board. (However, neither of us are brave enough to wear sleeveless tops or shorts.) Abbie shared about her newest book and asked about mine. When I told her I had “sorta retired” she couldn’t believe it. I reminded her I had five books in print and planned to keep marketing and selling them. She said to stop writing was like death. How could I?

Bobe’s Pizza needed to close and these two old friends were tired, so I followed Abbie to her car and wished her a safe trip home. We hugged and I told her I knew she had a best-seller in her and I meant it. She’s a brilliant and talented writer.  She shrugged modestly.  I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again. I hope so.

Abbie at 8

Abbie and Me

Hi! I'm Marlis.

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