Thursday, February 26, 2009


So now for something a bit lighter....

There are so many details that go into making a novel feel complete. These details come from such a wide range of places and experiences. I usually keep several notebooks of random thoughts and pick through these when I find myself in need of something.

Here's a list of some of those details (plus some other random facts) as far as Thief is concerned.
  • Dune -- This character's name came about one day while I was working in a cafe in Woodstock. There was a little boy in the cafe running ruckus around the place and thereby forcing his exhausted mother to continue hollering his name..."Dune! Come back here!" My ears perked up. I thought it was an interesting name and stole it.
  • Butterfly Wing Imagery -- The imagery of butterfly wings is part of the extended mythology Elizabeth's mother has saddled her with (see previous post). In the novel, Elizabeth holds this belief that one day she'll grow butterfly wings which serve as a metaphor for strength in her mind. This idea came from the Vivian Girl characters in Henry Darger's In the Realms of the Unreal. They are these magical girl creatures with giant butterfly wings who swoop down and save the other children in the story at times of peril. 
  • Alexi's wanting "to be so skinny that she would rot from view" is a direct ode to Richey James Edwards' lyrics on the Manic Street Preacher's song 4st 7lb.
  • The mall where Elizabeth and Dune end up at is based on the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey. 
  • My working title for the book was Hey, Kid.
  • The store where Elizabeth attempts to sell stolen CDs is based on Norman's Sound & Vision on 3rd Avenue, just around the corner from St. Mark's Place.
  • The store they stole them from is based on a store on Philadelphia's South Street that no longer exists. But I put the store mentally where Bleeker Street Records is in NYC...only on the other side of the street...why the other side of the street? I have no idea, but that's how I pictured it in my head. Perhaps because the store in Philly was on that side of the street.
  • The subway stop where their house in Queens is the 36th Ave stop on the N train, where my friend Dan used to live.
  • The quote at the beginning of the novel is from the Sunset Rubdown album "Shut Up I am Dreaming" of my favorite albums of all time.
The trick of writing is to take all of these scattered elements and weave them into a character and story in a such a way that connects them. Finding the inspiration is the easy part...putting it altogether, that's work.

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