Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Kathleen O’Reilly | Where Inspiration Strikes

April 2, 2010

KATHLEEN OREILLYJUST FOOLING AROUNDAs a writer, I get ideas from all sorts of things: movies, newspaper articles, stories from my friends, and yes, sometimes the calendar. The Blaze Encounters series are linked short stories that revolve around a common theme, which is sometimes a holiday. A couple of summers back, I was hanging with my editor at the RWA National Conference and chatting up what’s *hot* in the Blaze line, and we began talking about the Encounters, and at that point, we were one glass of wine away from the idea of a Blaze Encounters that revolves around April Fools Days.

Yes, while others think of Valentine’s Day or Christmas, I, of course, think of April Fool’s, and because I felt the idea was so stupendous, I immediately drafted my talented critique partner, Julie Kenner, into coming along for the write.

April Fool’s dates back a long, long time, easily as far back as the Middle Ages, and some experts pin its origin to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tale. Others experts point to the French calendar, which is the most respected (or suspected, as the case may be) theory. In 1564, the first of the calendar year was moved from Easter to January 1, but the French were a stubborn people who didn’t want to give up their old New Year’s, and so they stuck to the older calendar. The French, being a not only stubborn, but surly bunch, were mocked for their old-fogey attitudes, and were dubbed “Poisson d’Avril” or Fish of April, which now loosely translates (as is the way of such entomological anomalies) to April’s Fools.

In 1983, a Boston University professor was interviewed by the AP for an article on the origin of April Fool’s Day. He had a fabulous explanation of how the holiday dated back to Roman times and was used to mark the elevation of one special court jester to King for the day. Of course, the story was a prank on the AP itself. The AP was not amused.

The best part of April Fools is reading about great hoaxes in history, and wow, we people are an April Fishy bunch. In April 1998, an article appeared in the New Mexicans for Science and Reason, claiming that the Alabama Legislated had decided, in its infinite Alabamian wisdom to change the value of pi. Hoax? Oh, yes.

In 1962, those loopy Swedes broadcast that TV viewers could change their existing black & white TV sets into color ones by carefully placing a nylon stocking over the screen. There was a run on nylons that day, and the Swedes have sworn off color TV ever since (not really; I’m joshing you on that one.)

In 1996, Taco Bell claimed to have purchased the Liberty Bell and was renaming it to the Taco Liberty Bell. Thousands of Liberty-Bell-Loving patriots were furious and their voices rang out in rage at the brass commercialization. According to the Museum of Hoaxes website (very fun, check it out), the best line of the day was this one:

“…when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.”

When Julie and I brainstormed the idea, we knew we couldn’t do pranks because a lot of April Fools pranks end up not being funny. So, we came up with the idea of two brothers and sisters who suffer a curse on April Fools Day, and each one copes with the curse in their own individual way. And of course, since this is a romance, they find true love along the way. And of course, since this is a Blaze, there are lots of steamy moments (usually with April Fool’s cursed type things happening around them). I’ve posted an excerpt on my website (for readers to enjoy. It was a lot of fun to write, and I’m pleased to say that I’ll be giving away a prize package to TWO winners (No fooling!). A copy of the April release of JUST FOOLING AROUND, and also, my May release (did I mention that I have a May Blaze as well?): LONG SUMMER NIGHTS. Winners will be chosen from comments.

So, no fooling, what’s the best April Fool’s joke you’ve heard of, been a party to, or alternatively been subjected to or embarrassed by?


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