Sunday, October 22, 2006

Where to Begin

I'm curious about what idea or concept was the starting point for the different writers. For me on Animal Attraction is was the thought that someone was going to have a cool and hip job - Jane was going to be a mermaid at the theme park - and then ended up with a total groan job - she gets switched to dressing up like a dancing beaver.
A lot of this came from my time during college when I spent summers working at theme parks. I worked at Sea World and noticed that all the cute girls were hired to talk about the animals at the different pools and aquairiums. Then I worked to Disney World and noticed that in the employee cafeteria all the entertainment people acted just like the cool kids had acted in the school cafeteria during high school. (This is what happens when you live in Orlando.) The rest of the story flowed from this one conflict about being cool or uncool in a summer job.
Then came the boys. I thought I had a great idea for how Jane would meet the boy and embarass herself, but I wrote myself into a corner when I wrote up the first few chapters. I wanted to hook the editors so they'd buy the manuscript. But in doing so, I had the relationship go too far. So when they wanted the book, I had to come up with a second boy to give me enough plot material.
It's funny because the love triangle was the last part of the puzzle and you would think it would be the first. Because of this, I didn't have a strong idea of which boy she would end up with and wrote separate endings for both. Just curious as to what was the starting point for other writers.


Jennifer Echols said...

Oooh, you should post the Long-Lost Alternative Ending!

MAJOR CRUSH is about the first female drum major of a high school marching band, and the boy who's drum major with her. I was drum major, which was a lot of responsibility and sometimes very lonely. It would have been nice to have someone to share it with. Also, I did go out on one date with a boy who was drum major in a neighboring town, and my chemistry teacher ragged me about it for months. :)

Little Willow said...

As a side note, I am able to recommend Mermaid Park by Beth Mayall to people in tandem with your book.

Anonymous said...

This isn't really answering your question, but your blog triggered a funny memory for me. My sister and I did the Disney thing (while we were in college), and like you, we experienced the whole "we're the cool kids" attitude with the entertainment crowd. So since my sister and I are brats and we don't live in Orlando, we decided to have a little fun with them. We pretended to be on the US Olympic Wogging (walking/jogging)Team. The story got around and you wouldn't believe how many people came up to us to ask questions. And no matter how crazy our answers, I seriously think they believed us!

I've done quite a few dress-up-in-a-costume jobs, from Funshine Bear to Marilyn Monroe. Those jobs, whether fun or mortifying, are always memorable, and I'm glad to see you used that as a theme for your book.

Wendy Toliver

Erin Downing said...

I love that Jane has to be a giant Beaver! It's hilarious.

The idea for Dancing Queen came from a lot of different places - a ton of my inspiration came from the year I lived in England (like Liv) and another year that I lived in Sweden - those two experiences helped me write about the unfamiliarity of being in a new place, the excitement of going out and meeting new people, the hope that something fabulous will just miraculously "happen" to you when you're walking down the street. Some of the other things that inspired the ideas in the book and got me started writing them were silly celeb stories in US Weekly and my romanticized notion of what working for MTV would be like (I once went on a TRL back-stage tour, and must say that the life of an MTV intern seems very similar to what I pictured for Liv during her summer as a Music Mix intern).

I wish I could say that I - like Liv - have dated a celebrity, and that's what got me started writing the book. But that would be a lie.