The Bagpiper Spy
In this first installment of my Behind the Scenes of The Nexis Secret series, I thought I’d start with my favorite real-life adapted character. Yes, I actually did “meet” a bagpiper in New York City. Unfortunately, no, he wasn’t a Guardian spy. Shocker—I made that part up!
The Best Trip Ever
About 15 years ago I took a missions trip to New York City, one of the best weeks EVER. We stayed at a church on the Lower East Side, right near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. We held VBS services in the playgrounds, complete with balloon animals and me dressing up as a clown. (Sorry, those pictures are mysteriously absent ) We walked to the corner deli every morning for the best breakfast sandwiches ever, and hopped over to the pizzeria next door for classic NY pizza.
On our day off we got to do touristy stuff, including a visit to Times Square. As I snapped pictures of the bright lights, I noticed this bagpiper in one of my shots. I’ve always loved street musicians, and to own the truth, bagpipes pique my curiosity. I vaguely remember following this guy as he played, but the other pictures were too blurry to tell.
Though I never stopped to talk to him I always wondered. What makes a guy say, “Hey, let’s put on that kilt and play me bagpipes in Times Square tonight.” Maybe it’s the money, or maybe it was something more. My storyteller’s imagination ran with this idea.
From Street Musician to Spy
If you remember from my earlier post Would You Rather Go to College or Boarding School?, The Nexis Secret originally started as a chick lit novel set at an NYC college. Back then it was called A Corner of Reality and I included lots of the real-life tidbits I’d picked up on my NYC trip. Adapted of course to protect the innocent.
When I added angels and secret societies into the mix, I still felt compelled to leave in the bagpiper. I just loved him so much! Plus, I just love the scene where he chases them to the Marriott and they play elevator tag. Also real-life (adapted) incidents by the way.
A writer friend wondered why I’d left the bagpiper in the story. I’d reworked the elevator tag scene to fit the new story, but apparently my beloved bagpiper stuck out as unnecessary. She suggested I cut him, unless he had some purpose. For instance, if he was a spy then maybe I could leave him in.
It’s funny to think that my friend’s off-the-wall suggestion gave this character new life. But it really did. Mr. Bagpiper had a new purpose—the hide-in-plain-sight spy. No one would suspect a guy dressed in a kilt as being a spy, right? He almost blends into the background of the Times Square lights. Only a crazy writer-type like me would notice him.
The Making of an Unusual Spy:
All it took was
1 random moment where a bagpiper caught my attention +
1 random suggestion from a friend to =
the zaniest clandestine character ever: The Bagpiper Spy.
Now, whenever I hear bagpipes I always think of my Bagpiper Spy, and the real-life Times Square counterpart.
Have any random incidents in your life you could see in a story?