Do you know what it’s like to fall in love? Your heart races and you feel a tickle in your tummy. You can somehow exist without food or sleep. Your senses seem heightened and you can move at superhuman speeds. For writers, at least for this writer, the sensation is much the same when we get an idea for a new story. It’s a rush. It’s a high. We want to spend all of our time with this new infatuation. I did not feel that drunken infatuation with my upcoming novel, “Hunter the Horrible.” In fact, at first this idea was a purely academic notion.
I had been visiting various middle schools to teach creative writing workshops. I noticed that children this age were every bit as vampire crazy as their teen aged or adult counterparts, but they had no age appropriate vampire materials. So, there were eleven year olds reading the glittery vampire series or watching cable television series. They were playing incredibly gory video games. And I said to myself “Hello, Self. It seems that an age appropriate vampire novel would be a really good idea.” I then began to ponder. How would children routinely encounter vampires? Well, if their parents or teachers were actually vampires that would work. However, we can’t write books about children killing teachers and parents, even if they are horrible bloodsucking beasts of the night. So, my twist was developed. With this plot “rollercoaster” in place (Inciting incident-Rising Action- Climax- Resolution) I started to outline. I thought it was a good idea. I thought it was a marketable idea. Still, I wasn’t in love. No rush.
I spent time with this idea for a year, and in that year we became close friends. You know, the kind of friends who know everything about each other and can sit in silence together without feeling uncomfortable. Then, it happened. I was talking with my husband, and hashing out a particular scene. Our heroes, all six of them, are in a graveyard and vampires are attacking. One of the children, a computer game obsessed young man with Asperger’s Syndrome (read more about Matt and how he helped me here), has become frozen. He is panicked. These creatures are so outside of what is logical and expected that they simply must not be. As they approach with their shuffling, birdlike gait, he can do nothing but sit rooted in place and chant “not real not real NOT REAL.” You know who comes to the rescue? Peyton, the class clown. Until that moment, Peyton’s character is really just fluff. He is comic relief. He is goofy. He is the foil to Jack’s nervousness. Here is when we see him for what he really is – a goofball chock full of guts and heart. He goes charging forward with the same wholehearted enthusiasm with which he charges into anything, determined to save his friend. And he does. And that’s when I felt it. I felt a tickle in my tummy. And I looked at this adorkable raggle-taggle group of misfits and I grinned and my eyes teared up a bit. I realized, kinda like that moment that you realize your best friend really isn’t, that my true love had been there all along. My dearest hope is that all of you will love it, too.
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