One Among Men: Truth or Fiction?
How realistic is a story about a woman hired to run an all-male dorm? One in which she must live?
Actually, very. I did it myself. (And yes, I’m female, BTW)
It’s funny, because when I’d first entered this manuscript into contests, my scores would always get dinged (by more than one judge) for the sole reason that the premise of a woman living in an all-male dorm was just too unrealistic.
I guess truth IS stranger than fiction.
Yes, I did really live in an all-male dorm (over twenty years ago). In fact, some of the most unbelievable parts of this novel came from true-life occurrences from that time.
So what else did I pull from my male-dormitory experience? Let me tell you.
Was there really a police sting operation occurring in my building?
Yep, though it ended in a dull thud. Guns were drawn and a dorm room searched, but no evidence was found, and no one headed to jail. We had drug use and distribution arrests that semester, just not from the sting.
Did I really bump into a near-naked guy in the hall who’d likely adjusted his towel ultra-low when he saw me coming?
Uh-huh. And I’m very proud to say I rolled my eyes at him as though I were seriously unimpressed with his attire, being mostly of the birthday suit variety.
Did some residents try to get my white T-shirt wet at an outdoor event?
Though I am relieved to say, he did not succeed, the unfortunate part was that it was one of my most trusted staff members, who I think later tried to date me.
Note to you college guys out there: If you want to date a girl, do not attempt to publicly humiliate her by making her shirt see-through at a large outdoor event in front of people who must see her as an authority figure. Especially, if she is your boss.
Thank goodness, I was wise to the guy before any super embarrassing visuals became apparent.
Did I really have a Nakji Bokum experience (eating spicy octopus stir-fry)?
Though we did have a multi-cultural program, headed by one of my Resident Assistants who was a chef, my encounter with Nakji Bokum occurred at the wedding of a colleague from another job. Though I particularly LOVE spicy stir-fry of (almost) any kind, I passed up on the sucker-lined sea creature. Ewww, I shudder even now just thinking about it.
Did I really have a Resident Assistant who’d been beat up?
Yep. When I first met him, he only had the gum-attached half of all his front teeth. He’d been in a barroom brawl a few nights before. His teeth were repaired before the semester began, but his relationship with the frat boys who didn’t defend him never healed.
Were my Resident Director colleagues anything like how I wrote them?
In some ways, but mostly not. One was former military and somewhat intimidating. Not quite as scary as I sometimes make Elise in the series, but she did have issues with our boss (as many staff did), and it showed. My other colleague, was very sweet and unassuming. Unlike the more flashy siren nature of the exotic looking (though also sweet) Tiffany.
Yes, students really did try to mask their marijuana use by blowing the smoke through toilet paper rolls with fabric softener sheets attached. Didn’t work. It smelled like pretty pot. And yes, some residents did test me the first week in the building by burning sage. And yes, we did have a drug sniffing dog try to identify them (called in from a local unit, not university). We found the origin of the smoke, but the singed herb was of the legal kind, bought from the grocery store, so there was no arrest. Not much later, those same residents were caught smoking cannabis and became my first judicial board case. I won!
Did my staff eventually see me as the most awesomest Resident Director ever, ever, ever???
Ummmmm. Probably not the MOOOST awesomest. I often think of the story behind The King and I, and how the real son of the king disputed the facts told by the hired school teacher in the book. Did she really think the king was in love with her, or was she just telling an interesting story inspired by her own experience?
One Among Men is fiction. I'd say most of my staff respected me. Many of us had a great working relationship and made good stuff happen. However, as in any job where one has eight members on her staff, there will be those who might bristle at her newly-defined goals or at least her style (especially if they don’t believe a woman should hold the job), and will attempt to take advantage of her lack of experience in the position. I had one of those. He was shocked when I gave him a less than lackluster review until I listed off my reasons which he could not dispute. I told him to request his future job recommendations elsewhere.
Like any human, I made missteps along the way, but learned a lot through them, growing in the position as I went.
Did I really have an adversarial relationship with a resident who’d sexual assaulted a young woman?
Parts of that story came from one case, parts from another revealed to me during Judicial Board training where an assailant was freed due to a twisted explanation of the evidence. However, I tried not to have an adversarial role with ANY of my residents. They tended to be more forthcoming about their behavior when I maintained a friendlier demeanor. You’d be surprised what people will admit to you when they don’t see you as the enemy! I DID tell this guy (in a friendly, informative way) he’d be gone if I were on the board that judged his case. He was genuinely shocked to discover some might find his description of a date repulsive. I made sure to educate him in more ways than one.
Was I really saved from a flasher by a handsome guy?
Yep! It happened much like it did in the story. He picked me up, called the police, and I later identified the guy in a drive-by. I didn’t fall in love with him, however. I was already in love with the man who’d become my husband one day.
Did I fall in love with a resident who was a long-haired southern rock musician?
As I mentioned above, I was dating my now husband at the time. The southern rock musician is purely what happens to an author when she listens to Third Day Revelation while writing a novel. I also believe he was an inspiration from the Holy Spirit. I kept getting visuals of scenes with Chris, playing against the music of Third Day. At least, that’s what I tell my husband, who was genuinely disappointed to find I didn’t write him into the story inspired by my real life. Originally, the hero was to be a clean-cut graduate Lit major, but God had other plans. Chris may not look like the man I married, but there is a little bit of Rick Almony in all my heroes.
That's it ... for now. Here's a sneak-peek at One Among Men's future cover. Let me know what you think.