Blog Post 10/12/15 – Staring at the Wall
The thrill of selling a book and telling people about it is still very fresh and fun but I’ve noticed something. I’m bad at talking about my book. Really bad. Part of the reason is a book where young men and women form gangs and kill each other isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but another big reason is the question I know is out there, lurking. I get it almost every time I talk about the book.
“Where did you come up with that?”
It’s a variant on “where do you get your ideas” I suppose. It’s a question “creators” have had to answer forever. I’d point you toward this “This American Life” segment where Joss Whedon sings a snippet from the “Doctor Horrible” commentary. He puts it better in song than I can in text.
Still, I have to come up with an answer, right? So let’s back up. My upcoming book, currently titled “FantasticLand” is about a fictional theme park in Florida that floods due to a hurricane of unprecedented size and power. The park waterlogs and some 400 employees are trapped in the park for over a month. They form gangs and then bad things happen. The book unfolds in a series of interviews from those inside the park who survived the “bad things”.
Here’s what I say when I’m in a casual conversation about “where I came up with that”. I tell folks I love thrillers and horror novels, I took a trip to Disney World with my family and the story idea came out of that trip. The truth is a bit more complicated but not necessarily more interesting.
I’m a runner kinda sorta. I run on a treadmill so I can watch TV and not have to deal with the elements but on occasion I plug in my iPod and have a couple music mixes that really do the trick of distracting me from the pain I’m in for 45 minutes or so. Some of those mixes have songs that allow me to disappear inside of my head as I play out complex and cinematic scenarios. I might be staring at a wall in real life but with some of these songs I’m across the galaxy, back in time or inside of a story with a kick ass soundtrack. I had just gone to Disney and one song by a local group “The Killigans” put me in that cinematic head space. The song was sort of a punk rock sea shanty and my mind drifted to pirates breaking out of a theme park ride and attacking the visitors. That was the seed of the story.
The short answer to “How did you come up with that” is I went to Disney and it sparked my imagination. The longer answer is I spent time staring at a wall as my legs pumped up and down. And I did it a lot. How I actually wrote the book is something I’ll save for another blog post but I know artists who cite all sorts of inspiration from music to personal experience to “a new take on an old idea.” I don’t see a lot of “creators” say “I stared at the wall.” I bet a lot of them do. Maybe the wall should get more credit. I have ideas for books to last me for a long time but when that well runs dry I plan on returning to the wall and staring at it some more.
How did the Statler Brothers put it? “Don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do”.