I’d love to claim that my book How to Date Dead Guys was inspired by a classical piece of literature, like Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Alcott’s Little Women. If I had majored in anything English-related, this would probably be true.
But I didn’t. I graduated with a Biology Major/Math Minor.
This is probably why my book was inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and NPR.
I’ve talked at length in other blogs about stumbling upon the Smiley Face Murders Theory during a late night NPR program. This time around, I’d like to discuss what else motivated me to write my book.
BUFFY AND WILLOW
It’s safe to say I LOVED the long-running TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The character I most empathized with was Willow. Who wouldn’t root for the shy, awkward bookworm everybody took for granted and expected to stand to the side? How exciting when she became a witch and rose to power, a power which stole away from her as much as it gave.
But Willow’s despair wasn’t the only thing that inspired me.
I thought back to college, and all it entails.
The first real taste of freedom.
The first real risk of falling and failing.
The unreality of campus lifeas if those four (or so) years are all that is important in this world.
So many majors that don’t prepare the graduate for the real question of:
“What the hell am I going to do with the rest of my life?”
All the drinking (no beer goggles here, ladies and gents)…
The bad decisions (this one makes me smile)…
The uncertainty, the longing, the fear…
At least, that’s how I remember college.
I’m sure some people don’t remember much at all.
Both Emma and I find the following people inspiring (they also happen to be dead):
⦁ Cary Grant (isn’t he charming?)
⦁ Johnny Cash (what a great voice, what an interesting life)
⦁ C.S. Lewis (Aslan, need I say more?)
Despite the fact that I can’t claim my writing style is patterned after any of the greats (except for perhaps Dickens’ tendency to connect every character in the most unexpected, Kevin-Bacon-Six-Degrees-of-Separation way), every single book I’ve ever read has helped me write my own.
A great big thank you to all the other authors.
I owe you big time.
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College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice: “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”. But when charming Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters. Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back. Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell. The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury. As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he isn’t the only one. Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a desperate victim determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand…at first. More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows. Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims. Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will ignite the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.
My to-do list dictates that I try to cram 48 hours of living into a day instead of the usual 24. I’ve chosen a life filled with animals. I train for marathons with my dog, then go to work as a small animal veterinarian, and finish the day by tripping over my pets as I attempt to convince my two unruly children that YES, it really IS time for bed. But I can’t wait until the house is quiet to write; I have to steal moments throughout the day. Ten minutes here, a half hour there, I live within my imagination.
Like all busy American mothers, I multi-task. I work out plot holes during runs. Instead of meditating, I type madly during yoga stretches. I find inspiration in everyday things: a beautiful smile, a heartbreaking song, or a newspaper article on a political theory. For example, a long drive in the dark listening to an NPR program on the SMILEY FACE MURDERS theory made me ask so many questions that I wrote HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS to answer them to my satisfaction.
I’d love to have more time to write (and run, read, and sleep), but until I find Hermione Granger’s time turner, I will juggle real life with the half-written stories in my head. Main characters and plot lines intertwine in my cranium, and I need to let my writing weave the tales on paper so I can find out what happens next.
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