Thursday, May 30, 2013

Time flies and what are we going to do about it?

A friend asked me a question the other day, 'Where do you get your ideas?'
That's a good one. I have no freaking idea.
First: Take one over active imagination, a large dose of humor, and a little bit of boredom. Mix well, add some pop culture references... and stand back.
Often times I get an idea for a story and I want to take it in one particular direction. When I sit down to type, my fingers act of their own accord. Suddenly the story takes a left turn and there are two more characters than I intended. Often times I have to go back a few pages and say; 'Did I write that?'
I'd just finished up Stephen King's Dark Tower series. The thought of a wandering gunslinger coming into town to right a wrong was very tempting. In the beginning I didn't even name my wandering knight errant. Then a reader pointed out these short stories were in fact, chapters. I strung them together, added a page to the beginning and the end to smooth things out, and voilĂ !

The following could be considered spoilers.
At the time I was writing the love interest for Daniel, I was also reading to my girls, Charlotte's Web. I liked the name, pure and simple. I wanted a strong, sassy female that could stand up to Daniel. I wrote a few scenes with Charlotte with a German accent. I wrote the same scene with her as the daughter of Italian immigrants. The third time I wrote her as Scottish. That one felt right to me. I looked up Scottish surnames. My eyes fell on Wallace. Again, the name felt right. It was as if Charlotte was standing behind me pointing me in the right direction. 'Yeah, that one there will do nicely.' My two requirements for anyone to play Charlotte. She has to be a red head, and must have a stunningly sexy accent. Two actors come to mind: Karen Gillian, who is a red head and Scottish. The other is Felica Day. Not sure if she can do an accent though...
Now the story doesn't arrive intact and perfect. Like a huge block of clay, I peel away layers until something inside of me tells me to stop. Then I polish the stone. Often times I have to spend a day away from writing so I can come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. There were many times when I would spot an errant comma, or a misspelled word that just so happened to form another word so spellchecker wouldn't catch it.
When I imagined Nikola Sanislovich, the Russian blacksmith, my first thought was of Hagrid from Harry Potter. I wanted to make him different, thinking of all the accents stored in my memory banks. Feeling mischievous, I took a friend's name and put a Russian spin on it. A Russian accent was actually fun to type!
There's a surprising amount of research that goes into writing. One of my co-workers was Jamaican and I basically interviewed him, putting his spin on Mada Wise. I couldn't have created her without the help. Thanks Noel, Mada Wise lives because of you.
There were all sorts of interesting tidbits that I had to cut out of the final draft of TR. For instance, the sheriff of Waco being blackmailed by Slagen? Turns out the sheriff was seen kissing another man. I wanted to include that, but the way it turned out, with his secret still a secret, worked better.  
One scene that creeped me out: I made a reference to Heath Ledger in one part of the story. The following week, he died. Never have I been so scared to reference another person in my stories. What if they died after I wrote them into the book?
For me, Armstrong should be played by Sam Elliot, mustache and all.
I envisioned Landreneaux as clean shaven, skinny and looking a little like Harry Conick Jr. He'd have to thicken up the cajun accent though.
I have no idea who would make the perfect Daniel Wolfstalker. Brown hair, not too muscled, but well toned. Must be able to act his way out of a paper bag. Yeah, Mark Wahlberg, I'm looking at you. So if someone were to suggest another actor, I'd be all ears... so to speak.

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