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21 November 2011 @ 12:45 pm
"Camp Sundown" FK Story Ideas  
This weekend, the radio program Soundprint featured an article, "Sunshine and Darkness," about Xeroderma Pigmentosum.  People with XP, among other challenges, cannot tolerate sunlight.  Within the story of Forever Knight, XP is the most practical, realistic basis for Nick's "sun allergy" cover (we all knew that, I'm sure).

What was new to me was Camp Sundown, a "night camp" offering sun-sensitive children the traditional camp experience, "just on a different time clock." 

It's straightforward to imagine that the de Brabant Foundation might support such a charity.  A more interesting connection might be that Nick, though he tries to stay out of the media (inadvertently helped by Schanke, who tries to get into the media ~g~), has been involved with some prominent national cases, topped by the international case of its day, apprehending the criminals who terrified the whole world in "A More Permanent Hell," and all it takes is one human-interest story about the cop allergic to sunlight before he might — if it makes a good story — become somewhat famous among people who (naturally) believe him to have the same disease they do.  This might especially apply to a child who admires the heroic police officer.  Someone might invite him to visit the camp and spend time with the children on his vacation.  Nick as a camp counselor? Presenter? Celebrity guest?  A story with that scenario might explore Nick identifying with other people who can't bear sunlight, yet feeling alienated from them that the reason is different, and guilty that he's letting them believe a lie by masquerading as an adult with XP and inadvertently giving false impressions of what they can expect.  Such a story might touch on Nick's feelings about childhood and parenthood, the historical origins of his knowledge of "camp skills," and the Enforcer-ridden dangers of fame.  It might fit well in the long hiatus between first and second seasons, when Nick believes Lacroix to be dead, because Nick then wouldn't have to worry about Lacroix following him.  And if one wanted to go the "celebrity" route, Schanke could accompany Nick, and be the odd person out for a little while, surrounded by people who prefer the night shift, so to speak, and learning (he thinks) a bit more about what Nick's childhood must have been like.

I think that there is potentially a lot of rich storytelling material there, if anyone might like to take it up.  I might come back to that Schanke idea, myself, someday, but I absolutely do not mean to hog "Camp Sundown" as a font of FK story ideas!  It's available for all.

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PJ1228pj1228 on November 21st, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
I like the story draft and I want to encourage you to write it. Nick might get in touch with such a camp if he's called to a homicide that may have occurred there. That doesn't necessarily restrict the time frame to the hiatus between s1 and s2.
greerwatsongreerwatson on November 21st, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
Or, knowing charities, they might get in touch with the (apparently) fellow-suffering celebrity to try to get him to make a donation to their cause. Or even to try to get him to participate in some publicity for the camp.

That might be how Nick would find out about them. I mean, I'm sure Nick would know of XP (such an ideal cover, after all); but it doesn't follow that he'd therefore have got involved in XP-related charities, given that he isn't really a sufferer. However, once he knows of the camp, I can quite see him feeling for the kids. He does know something of what they're going through in terms of its effect on daily life.

I can also see Schanke encouraging him to get involved with the camp. Perhaps he'd support the idea that Nick go there to give a pep talk to the kids. After all, he's ostensibly a sufferer from XP who has overcome its problems and made a successful career: Nick would be the just sort of role model the camp might try to enlist to boost morale.
Amy R.: Nickbrightknightie on November 22nd, 2011 06:38 am (UTC)
Yes, I agree that someone connected with the camp might contact Nick, not to ask him for money — he's an honest police officer, obviously not wealthy, as he explains to Janette in "Cherry Blossoms" — but to ask him to participate or advocate in some way. Definitely, the "role model" angle would be in play!
greerwatsongreerwatson on November 22nd, 2011 07:49 am (UTC)
"Yes, I agree that someone connected with the camp might contact Nick, not to ask him for money — he's an honest police officer,...."

Obviously they wouldn't be trying to get Foundation money through Nick: there's no public connection. However, when most people pick medical causes to give money to, there's a tendency to go for the big-name charities and the well-publicized diseases. Small charities for less well known diseases are often picked because a relative or friend was a sufferer. Such donors don't give large sums; but that doesn't mean they aren't collectively an important source of money.

So I can see a newspaper story about Nick getting the attention of someone running the Camp, leading to the decision to send him one of their flyers. They wouldn't be hoping for millions, because they would have no idea that Detective Nicholas B. Knight is connected with The De Brabant Foundation. They'd just be hoping that Det. Knight is the kind of guy who gives to charity—and maybe might write them a $50 check this year.

I can see him responding in person, though, intrigued by the whole notion of the Camp. And then the whole thing could grow from there. If they then asked him to play the "role model", who knows? I can well see Schanke putting his two cents in!
Amy R.: Nickbrightknightie on November 22nd, 2011 06:26 am (UTC)
Thank you. I don't know whether I will attempt one of these scenarios, so the concept is definitely open to all. I am attracted by the media and Schanke angles, however, and Elistaire on Dreamwidth remarked intriguingly that the concept might make a good series (I would never have thought of a series! but of course one vacation follows another).

At first reflection, I imagine that I might be reluctant to place a homicide at a camp for XP children unless there were an important thematic gain from doing so. (According to Wikipedia, due to accumulated sun damage, only 40% of people with XP live to age 20, and only the mildest cases live past age 40. That's another reason that Nick might feel guilty about his imposture; he is posing as one of a lucky few.)

It crosses my mind that, out here in reality, there is only one such camp in the whole world, and it's in upstate New York. Wouldn't it be an unbelievable coincidence if, in the story world, there were a murder at the one XP camp in the whole world, and the camp just happened to be in Nick's jurisdiction... in metropolitan Toronto? :-)

I really imagine Nick's trip to the camp as something on vacation time, not part of a murder investigation. I suppose I see it as an experience of the ordinary human world, which is often a world of illness and challenge, but rarely of vampires or homicides...

Just brainstorming!
Valerie - Postmodern Pollyanna: playwiliqueen on November 22nd, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
I heard of the camp a number of years ago, and had forgotten all about it. Would love to see you or someone run with it as a story idea.

When I had a severe episode of "sun poisoning" (which Wikipedia redirects to "photodermatitis," which squares with my symptoms as I recall them, including the nausea), XP was apparently mentioned, even though, at five, I would have had symptoms LONG before if that were the case. I have a hunch the doctor had read an article or two, or something. In any event, I spent the summer in long-sleeved nightgowns and big floppy hats, and my mother was under the impression that it was potentially life-threatening.

Edited at 2011-11-22 04:04 pm (UTC)
Amy R.: Nickbrightknightie on November 22nd, 2011 11:38 pm (UTC)
I remember hearing about your summer of long-sleeved nightgowns and floppy hats! I had completely forgotten that you called it "sun poisoning," though, and I'm delighted to add "photodermatitis" to my FK-tangential vocabulary. :-) Cool!

Your poor mother must have been frightened by that doctor's speculation of XP! If the Wikipedia entries are correct (always an "if"), photodermatitis would not be lethal, but of course XP cumulatively usually is eventually lethal, which is another reason Nick might feel guilty posing as someone with XP who's made it to ~35 with... let's call it "awfully good skin." (And I note among the list of things that can potentially cause photodermatitis an item linked to a medicine I take for my skin... no wonder I was cautioned never to go outside without suncreen while using it! Interesting.)
Valerie - Postmodern Pollyanna: playwiliqueen on November 24th, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
The way Mom usually tells it, all manner of random strangers felt justified in coming up and scolding her for dressing me like that in the Detroit summer heat, and her rendition of her (mental, at least) response is a plaintive "But I'm trying to save her life!" So whatever the doctor actually said, it seems to have been, if nothing else, calculated to scare her into complying against social norms.

Also interesting to note that, while I've seen people assert that telling strangers how to raise their children/choose their own eating habits/etc. is somehow a new phenomenon, perhaps arising from the erosion of manners by the internet, it seems plenty of people had no compunction about it in 1975! The story comes up pretty much any time either sunblock or home sewing (because she made all the nightgown dresses, along with most of my non hand-me-down wardrobe at the time), so I've heard it many a time!

The only medication on the list that I've ever been on, to my knowledge, is sulfa antibiotics, and that only since I developed a penicillin allergy at 19. So the cause of my violent reaction that summer remains a mystery.

And yes, Nick's guilt about the imposture was the first thing I thought of when you brought it up. :-) As it would no doubt spring to his own mind first, it only makes sense!