I was lucky enough to have an online chat with a group of teen readers at the Lake Geneva Library today, and because I don't believe in wasting anything (I love leftovers, too) I thought I'd post the transcript for the curious, the bored, the boredly curious and the curiously bored. Many thanks to The Librarian Sara (her official title) for the invite and for the moderation.
I had a great time, but I was promised cookies. Who ate all the cookies? Was it Ashleigh? Was it Lia? Lexi? Mary? Rachel? Don't all of you go blaming Jo aka JoJo, now!
Anyhow, here's the transcript:
LGPLyouth2: Thank you for coming to our book discussion of your book Generation Dead
LGPLyouth2: we have about five fangirls and one almost fanboy here to chat with you
WatersDan: Thanks for having me--I'm hoping I can learn about the book a little
LGPLyouth2: um, you wrote it :-)
WatersDan: oh, right, right
LGPLyouth2: rachel would like to commend you for being one of the few male romance authors. bravo
WatersDan: thank you, Rachel
WatersDan: You know Dean Koontz started out writing romances, too
LGPLyouth2: Rachel will now be looking into that very soon
WatersDan: they're hard to find--he wrote them under pen names, some of which he's never revealed!
WatersDan: but enough about Dean Koontz
LGPLyouth2: first question, from Lia (the typist/ executive fangirl #1)
WatersDan: Hi Lia
LGPLyouth2: hi!!!! what inspired the "Skeleton Crew" in book two?
WatersDan: the name, or the band itself?
LGPLyouth2: the general idea (both)
WatersDan: well, I listen to a lot of horror punk (among other things), and I listen to that type of music a lot when I'm writing.
WatersDan: And I wanted to show the zombies doing more "normal" things, especially in the arts. It is usually the arts that pushes social change, in my mind, more so than politics or law
LGPLyouth2: in my opinion art is more influential than politics or law.
LGPLyouth2: also there was a general "that's true" from everyone
WatersDan: sweet--we just solved all the world's problems! Thank you, and have a great day!
LGPLyouth2: many lols
LGPLyouth2: next question from Sara the Librarian...which came first; Zombies or social prejudice?
WatersDan: In the books, you mean? I knew that I wanted to write about social prejudice before I knew I wanted to write about zombies.
LGPLyouth2: why zombies?
WatersDan: Zombies ended up being my coping mechanism. The initial impetus for the book was a show I'd seen on violence in schools, featuring actual violence in schools. Kids were hurting other kids just so they could film it and be h"heroes" on YouTube. I had to write about that...but every time I tried to write a realistic novel the subject matter became too oppressive and my braaaaiiiin locked. I had all these theories and reasons why I thought kids would do that to each other floating around my head
LGPLyouth2: many comprehensive nods
WatersDan: and one day, the idea "if zombies really existed, they would be the most oppressed kids in the school". This led to "what is a zombie tried to take a living girl to the prom" etc.
LGPLyouth2: sweet (and one ....interesting...)
WatersDan: strangely, it let me bring a little distance and humor into a very heavy subject
LGPLyouth2: which is great, teens don't like to get too serious. humor relief is a win in this case
WatersDan: but they like to think along with being entertained. (right?) A lot of people overlook that and set the bar pretty low, imho
WatersDan: I triy to creat a discussion, rather than give a lecture. I don't pretend to have answers for everything
WatersDan: "try", that is
LGPLyouth2: so true. we are very underestimated. kudos for giving us things to think about.
LGPLyouth2: next question from Lexi (executive fangirl #2)...
WatersDan: Hi Lexi
LGPLyouth2: ok how did u come up with the characters from the book? (p.s. i made zombie t-shirts this is like one BIG deal to talk to u) oh and hi
WatersDan: It is a big deal to talk to you, as well. It sounds corny but the characters just sort of appeared when I started writing the book. Phoebe and Tommy were first; Adam actually was a composite of two characters, one who was written out of the first book, and Karen--even though she was the first one I introduced, in the very first line of the book--wasn't going to be anything but a walk-on (but I totally fell in love with her, immediately). Tak didn't exist either until I started writing.
WatersDan: one of the really nice things about the series is that new characters keep knocking on the door, asking to be let in. I feel like I've still got a lot I want to say and do in this world
LGPLyouth2: THANK GOD YOU KEPT KAREN AND TAK!!! (from Lia and Lexi) they're like the best couple!
WatersDan: They are two of the main characters in Passing Strange. Adam/Phoebe/Tommy kind of take a back seat
WatersDan: Pete's still there, being his usual jerky self
LGPLyouth2: The next question is from Mary (An avid reader, and wanna be author.) (and sorry but I haven't finished the book yet... >.>; I still love it though...) Ps. Lexi and Lia say WOOOOOOOH! and now they say awwhhhhhhhhhh....
WatersDan: Hi Mary
WatersDan: it sounds like Lia and Lexi are starting the Wave
LGPLyouth2: Anyways, my question is: how did you get into the minds of the female characters? I, myself try to write, but I find it hard to write dialouge for the guys... Also, hi. And lia and lexi are.
WatersDan: Guys' minds are pretty easy to get into ;)
LGPLyouth2: .....Well... yeah, but I start to turn them into female/gay guys... which doesn't work when trying to write straight romance...
WatersDan: That's a good question. I don't claim to be good at many things, but I am a good listener. Part of being a good listener is being able to "hear" what isn't said. I think that is probably the skill that most enables me to write in voices that are pretty far from "my" voice
LGPLyouth2: Ahhhhh... makes sense.
WatersDan: maybe your mind is telling you to write a gay romance, btw ...if the characters are really speaking to you that way it is hard to force them to do something else
WatersDan: if you want to "listen" for a male-male voice, read some series detective fiction. Robert Parker and Ed McBain are two of my favorites. Also George Pelecanos, Robert Crais, Raymond Chandler...
LGPLyouth2: Already been done... >.>; by me. Alottttt of times. I agree with the last part. Mkay. Thanks for the advice, but I'm going to stop typing. If I don't I might die by rabid fangirls.
WatersDan: I wonder what you would turn into by the light of a full moon if you were to be bitten by a rabid fangirl?
LGPLyouth2: HI, again, this is Rachel (CEO Romance fangirl...I'm the only one in this group....) [I feel so alone] Group clapping heard around the room for Rabid fangirl bite comment...
WatersDan: Instead of "Arowoooooo!" you would howl "Ohmigaaaaaaawwwwwd!
LGPLyouth2: I'm curious, did Tommy actually Love Pheobe, because htere was this whole, "Do you really care?" deal throughout most of the book...?
WatersDan: Hi again Rachel
WatersDan: That is one of those questions I will always leave up to the reader.
What do you think?
More importantly, how do we ever really know if someone really loves us for who we are, as opposed to what we are?
LGPLyouth2: rachel-no, he didn't
LGPLyouth2: Lia- it would never work
LGPLyouth2: Lexi- im still questionable
LGPLyouth2: Mary- hasn't gotten to that part
LGPLyouth2: Jo- should've been friends (non romantic)
LGPLyouth2: and here is ashleigh to explain her position furthur... (also Jo is a guy aka JoJo)
LGPLyouth2: HI there, :-)
WatersDan: He Jo aka JoJo
WatersDan: I mean "hey"
LGPLyouth2: Well, on the whole subject of whether or not Tommy really loved Pheobe, I said it was a maybe because there was emphasis on the fact that he said "a girl to love me" not Pheobe specifically. And Adam gave up everything for her at the end of the book. It kind of created a big conflict for the reader.
LGPLyouth2: Lia screamed and threw the book, so there was a HUGE conflict for her.
WatersDan: Hi Ashleigh. Nice insight! I hope Lia didn't create a zombie when she threw the book.
LGPLyouth2: XD many lols
LGPLyouth2: Lia- someday i shall introduce you to my friend Sal, (idk why i named him sal, just roll with it)
WatersDan: I wonder, though, do we always manage to say exactly what we want to say in a budding romance? And I'll also say this...I don't know that it is possible to really overcome our difference if we are always second-guessing each others' intentions.
LGPLyouth2: That's very true. We are only human. Second guessing shows a lack of trust, which is a big part of a strong relationship.
WatersDan: People "hang" Tommy on that line--and of course it gives Phoebe doubts--but does it really define his feelings? We aren't zombies (most of us, anyway) but do we always express ourselves appropriately? Sometimes I feel like I don't even have the language for what I want to express.
WatersDan: Then again--if I'm Phoebe--his statement doesn't exactly melt my heart!
LGPLyouth2: here's Lia. and thanks for talking to me. :-)
LGPLyouth2: i totally know what you mean abou the "language" thing. i always think there's not enough good words in the english language to describe the true workings of a person's brain.
WatersDan: there probably are--we just haven't learned 'em yet!
LGPLyouth2: like if you were to read a person's thoughts, would they be in comprehensive sentences or would you just feel it?
WatersDan: if you were telepathetic...
LGPLyouth2: many woos! and one AMEN from me, we probably haven't learned them all yet. those big dictionaries are scary. it's easier to just make up your own words "telepathetic" ?
WatersDan: making up words and terms is fun. I'll probably have "Differently Biotic" written on my tombstone
LGPLyouth2: will you even need one? you may still be walking around
WatersDan: I like dictionaries, though. Also David Foster Wallace, whose writing taught me many words I didn't know
LGPLyouth2: medical dictionaries are fun too, did you know lycanthropy (werewolf paranoia) is a diagnosable thing???
LGPLyouth2: oh, and here's Lexi...
WatersDan: I did not know that
LGPLyouth2: lia is jumping up and down
WatersDan: If you were a mislycanthrope, would that mean you hate werewolves? or that you were an unwerewolf-like werewolf?
LGPLyouth2: and ok im typing much better less hyper ok umm why did u make Pete the way he is not that we mind but (sortof) many lols
WatersDan: well, every book needs some bad guys
LGPLyouth2: yeah so true but why so CRAZYYYYYY!
WatersDan: but I wanted one that had some type of rationale for the way he was.
WatersDan: Do you think he's crazy?
LGPLyouth2: and why does he hate/love pheobe (yeah we do)
WatersDan: so...wait. You think Pete loves Phoebe, but Tommy doesn't? Who is crazy now????
LGPLyouth2: mary-isn't it because she reminds him of julie? And I like the fact that he knows that he is crazy, and wouldn't have minded if julie had come back.
WatersDan: JNice insight, Mary...a big part of Pete's craziness (if that is what it is) is tied up in the feelings he had for Julie, and what happened (and didn't happen) to her
LGPLyouth2: lexi-well he calls her julie all the time i mean come on and he has a pet name for her mortisha scarypants really he must love her some how even if it is like i HATE but LOVE u. ]
WatersDan: he likes irritating Adam, too, which is part of it. They used to be good pals, remember?
WatersDan: And everyone leaves him...his dad...Adam...his mom, too a certain extent...Julie, forever...
WatersDan: awwww. poor Pete
LGPLyouth2: awww pity for pete.
WatersDan: I don't think most people that are evil start out as inherently evil. Who knows how Pete would have turned out if Julie had come back from the dead?
WatersDan: would he be like Faith, or like Colette's parents?
LGPLyouth2: way to leave us hanging on a cliff...:(:(:(:(:( unfortunately our splendid hour spent talking to you is up. and we must sign off now. however you can expect several facebook requests from us. :-D thank you so much for talking to us.
WatersDan: How would we react, in similar circumstances?
WatersDan: My pleasure. Hey do you mind if I copy this transcript to my blog?
LGPLyouth2: This is the Librarian Sara
LGPLyouth2: NO WAY! COPY IT COPY IT!!!
LGPLyouth2: LEXI YAY
WatersDan: Hello The Librarian Sara
WatersDan: cool. will do
LGPLyouth2: thank you for hanging with us today, i hope we can do this again sometime. perhaps when your next book comes out.
LGPLyouth2: when will that be exactly????????
LGPLyouth2: :-D :-D
WatersDan: Ummmm....June? The Spanish ed. of the first book comes out next week, tho! Generacion Dead! Beso de Vida will follow soon.
LGPLyouth2: viva la dead!!! mucho me gusta! Bye we really have to go. the evil librarians are kicking us out. not sara though she's the good one
WatersDan: Take care!
LGPLyouth2: bye bye Daniel Waters!!!