It was a couple of years back, at the wrap-up party for the SCBWI LA conference. I was sitting at a table, poolside, with a couple of other RA’s when Richard Peck came up and asked if he could sit with us and eat his dinner. Natch, we said yes, rather enthusiastically. I mean, come on, Richard Peck! A refined, gracious, and gentle man. He told us about his new book, about a girl who texts with her friends, when she’s supposed to be driving. She dies. Not a new story. But what Richard said was interesting. He said that the girl’s voice had been in his head for months. He kept hearing her and then he started to see the action, like a play on a stage, and that when he knew he had to write it down, make a story, make a book.
I’ve had this person living in the back of my brain for a couple of years now. She’s not the main character. It’s taken me two years to find the main character, maybe even characters. As a matter of fact, I don’t start with character, I start with idea, plot, a happening. It takes me a long time to get to character. I suspect that has more to do with the way I was brought up, and the stories I read as a kid, than it does with writing. I didn’t read LOTR for Aragon, or Frodo, or even Bilbo. I read it for the grand adventure they took on. I read it for the fact that I truly believe that good will always win. Always. I read it because I think good always looks outnumbered.
Maybe that’s the reason I read a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and I suppose that is the reason I continue to read fairy tales. Not not the Grimm, although I do like the TV show, Grimm. The Grimm fairy tales are more about morality and the twist. I read to find the good that wins. And, with this new voice in my head, I’m thinking that good may win, but it may not be a happy ending!