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Friday, August 15, 2014

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

When I was a preschool listener, Dr. Seuss was one of my faves, which made me much like every other English-speaking kid. I loved Horton, saw just about everything on Mulberry Street, and learned that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” It was Oh, the Places You’ll Go! that set my imagination soaring. I knew I didn’t want to be “left in a Lurch on a prickle-ly perch,” and I was certain I wanted to go many places. I was part of a whole generation that dreamed of flying to the moon and watched as some of us did.

Still I never imagined all the places I would go, especially once I became a novelist. My first book, published in 1990, took me to an airport to learn what the inside of a small Cessna looked like and what could cause it to fall from the sky and then to be very hard to find. The Rainbow Rock Romances took me back to the Painted Desert area where I lived during my high school years, both in books and in real life. If I wanted to write about the area and its people, I had to study up.

More recently, Maggie Rising has taken me into the Butte County Jail to learn jail procedures, how a female prisoner is “processed” and what her day-to-day life entails. Maggie will definitely take me to more interesting places, but it was my status as a voter and not my work as a novelist that took me to the county courthouse this week. I was called to jury duty.

After nearly a full day of jury selection, at about 4:20 p.m. my name was called, one of the last two names chosen. Neither side of the case objected to me, so I’m now serving on a jury—presently as an alternate. The case hasn’t been completed yet; thus I can’t yet share anything about it, but I’m learning some fascinating facts about court procedure that must surely appear in another novel, perhaps one of Maggie’s cases, in upcoming months and years.

Real life court isn’t much like the courtroom dramas I saw as a child and, even when it’s interesting, court procedure rarely has the big dramatic moments that happened every week when my mom watched Perry Mason. Unlike Law and Order, cases are not settled start to finish in an hour. Unlike the shows in the CSI franchise, not all law enforcement personnel are among “the beautiful people,” nor are they all young, single, and gifted with the intuition to follow a trail straight through from A to Z without detours or interruptions. Still I find it all fascinating.

The case I’m watching now will never end up in a book—except, perhaps, in highly distorted fictional form that none of the actual participants will ever recognize, but it may well become the seed from which various future scenes will be sown. It’s just one of the fascinating places Dr. Seuss never imagined I’d go.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 13 published novels. Her lucky 13th, EASTWARD TO ZION, is available now from Covenant Communications. Her recent release, MAGGIE RISING, has just come out in paperback as well as e-book. Mother to seven, she is "gramma" to 23. She lives in northern California with Roger, her husband of 44 years, and two spoiled cats they serve. She loves notes from readers @SusanAylworth, susan.aylworth.author@gmail.com or www.susanaylworth.com. You can also follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.