I promise I won’t turn every newsletter solely into an update about Tiger Drive (the novel), but can we talk about Tiger Drive the drive?
I grew up in the Safari Trailer Park on Tiger Drive in Carson City, Nevada, from 1978 to 1986 (I left home when I was fifteen and would graduate from high school in 1989). I liked living there before I hit my wise teen years. There were always kids to play with and large fields to take long walks in with my dog. The trailer park was across the street from the movie theater and a drug store where I could get a ten-cent ice cream cone and candy for ten cents a box. I ran, played, and shopped unsupervised (most of the time).
My family wasn’t perfect, but they were my family. Our trailer wasn’t perfect, but it was our trailer and home. So because there is so much nostalgia and because so much of “me” came out of my years on Tiger Drive, when I sat down to write a novel, the simplicity and punch of TIGER DRIVE as a title felt like a no-brainer to use for my novel. It felt “right”–a very important gut-level benchmark for authors to spring from.
But the thing is, what happened on Tiger Drive the drive is not what happens in Tiger Drive the novel. In the novel, I use the trailer that I grew up in because the smells and sounds are ingrained in my memory and therefore, easier to convey in writing. Tiger Drive the novel is about a family that needs to confront the truths about their lives and each other in order to move forward and to pursue their ideals–but you’ll have to read the novel to see who does and doesn’t succeed. But as for the drive itself, the story is not about the trailer park. The novel has nothing to do with Tiger Drive the drive.
When I first started writing Tiger Drive, I made a promise to the universe: I would not tell anyone’s truths or cause any harm with my words. If I ran into blurred boundaries, I’d talk to the source and check their comfort level and get their blessing.
So when I found out that Tiger Drive in Carson City was a private drive and owned by the owners of the Safari Trailer Park, I called them to see how they felt about me using Tiger Drive as a title and to tell them about the Tiger Drive Scholarship.
It turns out they are the same owners who owned the park when I lived there and get this, the park manager who is now over ninety-years-old is still the manager!
After I introduced myself, the owner asked, “So did you live on Tiger Drive at some point?”
I said, “Yes, in the 1980s.”
She said, “So you survived.”
The owner told me about the lengths they’ve taken since the 1980s to improve the reputation and image of the park and to make families feel welcome. With pride, she said the school bus is packed with residents of Tiger Drive. I told her about the scholarship (she was thrilled to learn about it) and about my novel (not so thrilled). These owners are nice people who don’t want the stigma of a fictional and dysfunctional family to send the wrong message about what the real drive has to offer, and they don’t want anyone who lives there to be stereotyped by the flawed characters in my novel.
I absolutely agree with them. So we talked it over and reached a comfortable agreement. In the United States, there are hundreds of Tiger Drives. The closest one to me today is in Newfield, New York.
Subscribers often send me photos of Tiger Drive when they see one:
Here’s one Jack sent in Lockport, Illinois:
So the owner and I agreed: they don’t own “Tiger Drive” but to reference Tiger Drive in Carson City, Nevada, is too specific and as the book is fiction, it’s also unnecessary. So our easy solution: make up a town or city in Northern Nevada. Northern Nevada is important to the story, but Carson City is not (though I have many friends who liked the idea of their home town being in a book). But the owner likes that there is a Tiger Drive Scholarship that gives special consideration to the residents of her Tiger Drive. She has high hopes for them. Before we hung up, she said, “You’re doing a great thing, and I want to read your novel.”
So, my dear subscriber, if you’d like to help me make up a name for a fictitious city in Northern Nevada with a population under 100,000 people, send me an email with your idea 🙂
What are you up to this week?
Happy Thursday and thank you for being you.
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