It's been years since my husband and I have been back to Vermillion, South Dakota where we met as students at the University of South Dakota. Today we woke up and decided it was a good day to go back. We had more than just a trip down memory lane as our motivation to spend a free Saturday visiting the past, we took our younger kids to the National Music Museum on campus. Both of them are musically inclined, playing several instruments each. It was something they were interested in seeing and for me it was a bit of a time travel adventure.
We started with the museum and then moved on to a tour of the various places we lived in Vermillion, both as students and then after we were finished with school and married. The last stop was my first apartment. It was more than just my first place, it was where I came up with the plot to Across the Hall.
The summer of 1995 was my first summer on my own. I stayed in Vermillion and took a few summer classes and worked full time at Pizza Hut (which is where I met my husband.) That summer was lonely for the most part. Many of my friends were gone for the summer, my family was about 2 hours away, and I didn't have a car. I spent some of my free time with my new found friends from work, but most of it was spent alone in my apartment. There's only so much cleaning and reading a person can do so I began to write. I had always wanted to be an author and that was my first real start.
Across the Hall began as a daydream of how things would be in the fall when my on again/off again boyfriend at the time would be moving into the apartment. I was only subleasing the place from him from the summer with the intention of moving back into the dorms when the fall semester began. The daydream shifted to what if I stayed in that apartment and he moved into the one across the hall. We hadn't exactly been a couple for awhile more like close friends. In letting my mind wander I started to plot out Across the Hall.
Soon I was writing my ideas out longhand in a spiral bound notebook. By the end of the summer I had a loose outline and the first couple chapters written. Then the new semester started and I went back to the dorms and the boy took over the lease on the apartment. The story got tucked away in a box and with the constant state of flux I was in that year, I ended up not getting back to it.
Several years later I was at a point in my life where I wanted to begin writing again. I had several stories in my head by then and had taken a crack at starting a few, yet Across the Hall kept creeping back into my mind. Being a pack-rat, I dug up the box it was packed away in and pulled out the tablet. While I didn't change much to my original outline, 13 years distance from it, gave me a new perspective on it and also gave me some personal additions to round out the story.
I introduced it to the world as a Twilight fan-fiction even though it had been more my story than it ever was a Twilight one. Yes, some of the characters took on traits of the characters from the Twilight Saga, but I also blended in my own characterization of them. Much of what happened in Across the Hall came from a combination of personal experience, stories shared to me from others, and just pure imagination sparked from daydreams. I shared it with the Twilight community where it did well with readers. I made the decision to pull it from the fan-fiction sites because it had always been more my story than an alternate Twilight story anyway.
Both in the summer of 1995 when I started it and again in 2009 when I picked it back up, I never once thought that it would sell as well as it has. Recently on Amazon it was rated #621 in paid Kindle Store and #9 in Women's Fiction/New Adult & College. I thank all of you who have read the story either as fan-fiction and bought it to support it and;or recommended it to a non-fanfic friend or as a reader who found it on your own and bought it. Across the Hall has been a journey for me, one that is still ongoing. I hope it will keep leading me to more and more interesting places, but every once in a while bring me back to where it all began.
Below is the actual hallway that inspired it all. I lived in the apartment behind the second door to the right.