Sunday, August 31, 2008

Walking Around With Your Head in the Clouds

I try to walk to the library everyday. The journey is about three miles round trip, which is just enough to qualify as both exercise and a chance to clear my head (which is usually pretty empty, anyhow). The walk follows a busy street, but there are sidewalks and some great architecture along the way--two gorgeous churches, the high school campus, the town hall, and a few blocks worth of old Victorian homes, some of which are well-preserved historical homes, whereas others have fallen into extreme disrepair, making it look as though every fifth house or so is haunted or infested with witches. I also pass a street where one of America's most famous traitors lived, a big cemetery, and a two statues, one honoring civil war dead and the other honoring the Italian community in town. A pretty interesting three miles, all in all.

Today I started the walk with my iPod playing my '50's-early '60's playlist, because music from that era is fuel for a project I'm working on. I stopped at a yard sale about a half-mile into my walk, and I found a book called Populuxe by Thomas Hines, which has a tagline that reads "The look and life of America in the '50's and '60's, from tailfins and TV dinners to Barbie dolls and fallout shelters." I read the book years ago and loved it, so was thrilled to get it (for a whole buck).

Now, I understand that it probably sounds terribly contrived to be taking a stroll, thinking about a project I'm writing concerning the 1950's, listening to 1950's music, and then finding a great reference book which has the exact sensibility about the 1950's (for a whole buck) that I'm incorporating in the project, but that's the way life is. I'm a great believer in synchronicity. The universe provides; one just needs to sharpen one's awareness of that fact.

But finding the book wasn't even the weird part of today's trek.

On the way home I was approaching a home that had a "apartment for rent" sign on the lawn. Many of the Victorians have been converted into multi-family homes. At this particular one where the sign was, the lawn was overgrown and the hedge was reaching out over the sidewalk. A flower garden along the foundation was sprouting onto the porch, and there were a few decorative trees and bushes in the yard that were sorely in need of trimming. The house is still gorgeous, well-shaded and set back from the street. All the house needs is a little yard work and horticultural attention.

I started thinking about a down on his luck character who offers to do the yard work in exchange for a reduced rent, and the owner of the home, a kind but stingy elderly lady who remembers when our town was in it's heyday, reluctantly agrees, but only if the man also agrees to do "some repairs" to the house itself. He agrees, and in re shingling the roof, he finds...

I know, I know. I was supposed to be thinking about the 1950's project. It's a long walk, and I'm not always the most focused of individuals.

Anyway, when I pulled even with the sidewalk-encroaching hedge, I looked down and saw there was a Ouija board laying on the grass. As if that was creepy enough, a leaf floated down from the big maple tree just inside the hedge and landed on the board.

One doesn't normally find Ouija boards taking a walk, I think. I've written before about my nebulous belief in signs and portents; I'm not quite sure what this would auger. The tip of the leaf was pointing at the "H", if that is any help.

I wonder if it will still be there tomorrow? And I wonder just what I will do if, as I approach, "Pledging My Love" by Johnny Ace playing through my headphones, another maple leaf drifts down, alighting on the board to point starkly at the "I"?


scott neumyer said...

Would love to see your actual playlist of 50/60s tunes you're rockin, man.

Meg said...


Wow. that is....creepy.


Daniel Waters said...

Hi Scott!

Well, I'd post it but it is about 2000 songs, most of which are the "big guns" of the era--Little Richard, Chuck Berry, E., etc. and a lot of doo wop. I tried to do all pre-psychedelic sounds (that's a different list).

A few recs, though:

Get any of the "Girls in the Garage" series on Romulan records. I love girl groups, especially of that era, and this series has lots interesting, all but unknown tracks.

Make sure you get the Shangri-las greatest hits, at least, as well as The Crystals, and "Essential Masters" by Johnny Ace

A few favorite doo wop tunes: "Unchained Melody" by Vito and the Salutations, "When You Dance" by the Turbans, "Lovers' Island" by the Blue Jays, "My True Story" by the Jive Five, and "Blue Moon" by the Marcels.

Take care,

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Meg!

Yeah, it was pretty creepy.

I went back today, camera in hand, by the Ouija Board was whence it came...

Take care,

C. said...

First, consider yourself lucky that you can get to a regular library. My big library is about eight miles away, and I am one block 'out of city limits,' therefore in order to actually check out books, I have to pay $50 a year.

So, until then, I'm sticking with my school library.
Which is good, but I'm running out of books! I read at least one a day.

I check out books so frequently that the librarians not only know me by name, but trust me to go behind the counter, and check out my own books.

But if it hadn't been for my school's library, I would have never met your book.

I fell in LOVE with your book. I have never felt so strongly about a book before and I've read a lot of the books.

If you make a sequel, I will marry it. Seriously.

You're way talented.

I stayed up (later than I should have!) finishing it last night.
I'm so sad to have to return it today, but at the same time, happy.
(Not that I want to share Tommy with anyone, no, never!)

BUT, I am going to make sure that this book ends up in the hands of all my friends to read, though.

Please, make a second book.
I am begging you.
Do it. Right now. Peer pressure. Whatever persuades you.

I can not get enough of Tommy's wit, and his blog just isn't enough! :C


Anonymous said...

I'd read that book.

Daniel Waters said...

Hi C!

(Note--that was a greeting, not a product placement). Thank you for the compliments. The 2nd Gen Dead novel, Kiss of Life, is done. I'm guessing it will be released next Spring.

Take care,

Meg said...


(my words of excitement)

OMG! I can't wait for Kiss of Life!!!!


C. said...

Woah, wait, NEXT spring?
Aww. Mega bummer.
That seems too far away but I suppose I'll suffer it out until then.
(Stupid publishing process!)

I am curious, who is the main character of this one--
Phoebe or Tommy?
...or neither?
(I'm hoping Tommy, if you hadn't guessed.)

Also, me and my friend Ali were curious about your design for Tommy.
Mainly, his hair. You elaborated on everything else, I think, but only said he had grey-blonde hair, but you never mentioned the length, or any form of details (unless I am slow, and missed it?), unlike the other zombies and characters.

We're nerds, and we have been drawing GD fan art together, but we always blank on Tommy's hair, because we don't want to do it wrong.

A little assistance in that?

Thank you for writing back, by the way. C:

As my new favourite author, I'm really glad that you're humble enough to respond to your fans.

OH, I just remembered. Once you get really really famous(you don't have to wait until then. C;) -- you should consider making some of the shirts you described in your book.

I would wear my "zombie power!" shirt to school every day. No joke.

Ciao for now,

Daniel Waters said...

Hi C!

Fan art? That makes me indescribably happy. No wait, I can describe it:ecstatic!

Regarding Tommy and hair length, and descriptions in general--I usually try not to go overboard on descriptions about main characters. Not because I'm lazy, (although I am), but because I think the image that readers come up with in their heads based on detail they pick up though the characters' actions and conversations will ultimatel be more powerful than if I give a long list of attributes. I'm hoping little switches get thrown in the reads head like "Hey! That guy sounds like he has a mullet!" or "Only a slightly underweight girl with gray eyes, mismatched socks and eighties hair would do something like that!"
Well, you get the point. I tend to describe minor characters in more detail because the reader doesn't get to have as many psychic cues to work with. Please keep in mind I break my own rules (or more likely, forget them) all the time.

Draw Tommy how you see him in your head--that's the Tommy I'd like to see.

Thanks, you made my day!

Take care,

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Meg!

More good news will follow...

Take care,

C. said...

Haha, I've actually, um, drawn some before.

I'm just too embaressed (ashamed?) of it to show you. I think it's just because he's your creation and I'm a perfectionist.

I don't want to do it wrong, y'know?

Tomorrow, though, my advanced drawing teacher said we have to pick a subject we like for our next drawing.
Guess what, Dan?

I'm picking zombies. Your zombies.
(I'm not obsessed, I promise! Haha. I think the proper word is... inspired?) Not the cliche leprosy-infested zombies who's eyes fall into the back of their skulls and stick their arms out, shouting "BRAIIIINS."

Hey, it's in spirit of Halloween too. That's coming up quickly.

So maybe, I'll show you that one.
If it's any good.
No guarantees.

Must dash,

manicboo said...

Hey! I'm totally new here and I have no idea if this is the right way to be doing this, so apologies if I'm making some terrible faux pas...

Basically I just wanted to let you know that my friends and I have created a group on Facebook for fans of Generation Dead, because we all love the book and want to share our opinions and ideas with other fans, as well as hopefully encourage more people to read it!

The link to the group is below (hopefully I'm doing this right!) I hope you'll check out the group and approve of what we're doing - the group was only created a couple of days ago so members are a little thin on the ground as yet, but we're sure that'll soon change!



Rachael said...

You do realise you will have to name your character something starting with H? If you don't, the rules of character will dictate that the entire story will be cursed. How about something old worldly, like Horatio? Perhaps he has one arm, the other lost in a tragic house renovating accident during his occupation of a previous Victorian residence, whose owner has recently gone missing...
*cue spooky music*