One late August afternoon some years ago, I received a phone call. By the end of the day, I had been Mirandized at the police station, released, and was trying to fall asleep knowing a friend had been brutally murdered with a baseball bat.
You do want to make sense of these terrible incidents in life. You need to explain them to yourself so you can go on. Every week you see it on television. "He was such a nice boy. We can't believe this!" Is that possible? Can you not know? Not ever suspect something was wrong?
After a great deal of thinking, reading every scrap of paper in my friend's house, touching everything he had owned, and reading the killer's confession, I put the pieces together. For me, I understood.
That wasn't enough. I wanted to write it down. That took much longer. Not all of the Bad Apple series belongs to any particular person or incident. Some incidents illustrated the truth more clearly than the original story.
The cider press was over the mountain from me. That had nothing to do with the murder but it fit so perfectly, I had to use it. There are other elements. That's the storyteller's job to make sense out of disparate parts.