Today, I have another guest post to share! This writerly wisdom comes from my friend and fellow author Brian Tashima. Hailing from Vancouver, WA, Brian is also an awesome dad as well as a musician (I’ve been to one of his Second Player Score gigs—recommended). You can pick up his Joel Suzuki books from Amazon and Second Player Score’s albums on CDBaby.com. You’ll also want to read Brian’s 2015 interview in The Oregonian about writing a teen protagonist “whose autism is his superpower.”
Where Did That Idea Come From?
When I’m doing author presentations to classrooms, one of the questions that I usually get is something along the lines of, “where do your ideas come from?”
My general answer is that they come from my array of influences: the books I’ve read, the movies I’ve watched, the life experiences I’ve had (you can watch me answer this question at my author visit to Shahala Middle School in this video). That’s the general answer I give in the interest of time and (relative) brevity.
But since we have the luxury to stretch out a little bit here in this blog, I thought it’d be fun if I started up a new recurring item, namely: where did that particular idea come from, exactly? So what I’ll do is flip to a random page in either Book One or Book Two and then talk about the thought process behind whatever is happening on that page (and possibly the adjacent pages, if necessary). Ready? Here we go! (Warning: if you haven’t read Books One or Two yet, there are possible spoilers to follow.)
Fliiiiiiip…okay, the lucky page number for today is…90! Okay, yeah, so in Book One, this is the part where Joel and company are confronted by the vagabond tribe on top of Roughrock Pass. I wanted the members of the tribe to be very distinct from the other Spectraland natives that Joel had encountered to that point, and so I figured that one of the better ways to do that would be to have them talk in a strange dialect that the translation cast couldn’t quite parse.
As far as how that would sound, I settled pretty quickly on having it sound like those electronically-distorted telephone voices that criminals use to disguise themselves – you know what I’m talking about, I’m sure you’ve heard it in countless episodes of crime TV – because I liked the combination of the menacing quality with how comical it looks when you write it out (“Hnnddzz inn thee errrr.”)
From a narrative standpoint, this scene was a rather significant moment in Joel’s arc, as he uses his knowledge of how to deal with bullies to bail his party out of a sticky situation. It also gave me a chance to have Joel and Felicity get into a little argument, which leads to another pivotal scene later on in the chapter. Maybe I’ll talk about that one next time!