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Come to Vacationland…Where We Will KILL You!!!

15 Oct


So. I read a butt-load of YA. When I walk into the library, the librarian greets me by name and hands me a giant stack of books. Every week. It’s amazing. And in all this reading, I noticed a trend. There are tons of YA books set in Maine. Like the fabulous Warped, by Marissa Guibord, or Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon, Delirium, by Lauren Oliver. I live in Maine, so naturally my reaction is all like, “WTF? Have you been here?” And, “Hey, where are all these mysterious boarding schools with classicist zombies?”

But tonight I went to this coffee hour my school does every week for its international students. It’s a fun time, and a chance to meet people from other cultures. What I did not expect was that this week, we apparently were giving some of our culture back. It started pretty innocuosly. You know, blueberries, Moxie (a soda which tastes like crap), and whoopie pies (which are exactly as appetizing as you might expect from something called a “whoopie pie”).

And then. A man gave a presentation about Maine. He might’ve talked about our ironworks or lobster trawlers or something, but no. He gave a power point filled with stills out of Stephen King movies. Oh, so, so much blood.

So there we were, telling kids from Germany, England, China, and so on that Maine’s chief points of interest are bad desserts, weird soda…oh, and THE CRAZIES. Who will smile and take you in when you break down on the side of the road. And then CHOP you UP into little tiny pieces. People, I cannot make this shit up. If there’s a rush on one-way tickets out of Bangor International Airport, that is why.

Which inadvertently answered my initial question. Apparently everyone but me knew that my state is a by-word for creepy deathtrap. Although, really, that time at my prom where the chick lost it and massacred a gym full of mean girls should have tipped me off…oh, wait. That was Carrie.

For those of you living in the other 49 states, you’re welcome.


Life, Interrupting

16 Sep


It’s that time of year. You know, when you spend too much wonga back-to-school shopping, pumpkin flavored lattes are selling like hot cakes, and idyllic rural towns in New England are preparing to be mobbed by leaf peepers. It would be such a good time to sit back, relax, and write. Except for one tiny problem.


That’s right, I still have on year left of school, and approximately 50 pages of non-fiction to write by the end of the semester. Actually a lot more than that, since I am a chronic over-achiever. Which brings me to my subject for the day. In a really roundabout fashion. Inspiration. Where do ideas come from? Let’s have a little fun with metaphor, shall we?

Life is not a box of chocolates. It is a dirty, filthy counter top, riddled with salmonella, crumbs, and enough bread mold to make the next Jonas Salk really excited. The writer is a sponge. The writer’s job is to suck up all the nit and grit, leaving the formica nice and clean. For the purposes of this metaphor, this pretty much means you need to pay attention to everything, especially if it is weird or scary or funny. The writer/sponge then is wrung out, pouring all that mess into their work and rearranging it to suit their story.

Which is why I don’t complain about homework. (Much). Because even when I spend unhealthy amounts of time studying the Greek civil war or American interventions in Latin America in the inter-war period (for non history buffs, this is between WWI and WWII), that is all fodder for when I go about building a world or writing credibly about the one in which I live.

Even the annoying kid in German class who will not sit at a desk if there is gum on the underside of it and must write everyone’s first and last names in his little notebook (like the world’s most conspicuous CIA agent) is a useful inspiration. True, I will never have a character quite like him. Because really, there is no way to do that kind of weirdness justice, and frankly, I would shoot myself if I had to spend a whole book with someone like that in my head. But still. Be glad that life is annoying and bizarre.

Because the Gods do not bestow stories ready-made into our skulls. We have to steal them where we find them.

Which should be everywhere.