In writing this novel, I sometimes drew from and embellished on astonishing real-life events. The above passage was spun off the story of a man named Walter Irving Scott, a Rhode Island magician who stunned the magic world in 1930 with his offbeat methods that fooled even the greats of magic. He taught many of his most secret moves to a street magician named Gazzo, but in 1994, Gazzo had a stroke and lost all the moves that he had learned with his left hand. Since Scott died in 1995, those moves were lost forever.
In addition, I’ve mixed in some details from the life of Dai Vernon, generally considered to be the best technical magician of the 20th century. In fact, the magic world has many fascinating stories that the wider world has not been exposed to, and which will make for excellent reading in my future work.
In my early years as a writer, most of what I wrote was pure fiction, perhaps because I had lived so little of life. I didn’t have a terribly eventful early life like Mary Karr or Ernest Hemingway. In addition, I was a bit ashamed of my mundane suburban upbringing. I didn’t feel that what I had experienced was literary enough.
Today, however, what I write is a somewhat equal combination of fiction, real life, and historical anecdotes. By now, many extraordinary things have happened to me and I’m not ashamed to talk about them. Now, I realize that my one childhood encounter with my Uncle John, who was a gambling cheat, is worth writing about. Now, I’m discovering parts of my childhood that people want to read about. Childhood memories are a bit like lost fingers, I guess. I feel them still.