Gleeful Anticipation

Hi hi hi!  And a particular hello to any Glen Urquhart School students who might be stopping by the blog today — yay!  I got to visit this thoroughly fabulous school on Monday and talk to lots of brilliant readers who had LOTS of terrific questions.  I hope you guys had as much fun as I did! 

Fish - Jack

This gorgeous piece of art was created by Jack, a Warriors fan and great reader who was the inspiration for me visiting the school.  Thank you, Jack!  Both for the visit and for the beautiful fish picture!  :-) 

The most thrilling part was finding out how many of you out there have dogs, because the way my new Pet Trouble series is going, practically all the sixth graders in the books will end up with dogs pretty soon.  But apparently that’s quite realistic after all; there are dogs galore out there, and lots of awesome stories about them, too!  Sunshine and I would love it if you’d send us pictures of your pets for her Friends gallery…the more, the merrier!  Don’t forget to include the pet’s name!  🙂

I was very impressed, not just with the questions and the great dog stories (yay!), but also with the fact that everyone was so very awake at that hour of the morning (9am! bananas!).  I must admit, I do not know how anyone manages to get up so early every day.  It still boggles my mind that I ever made it through school, since apparently getting up at 7am turns me into a zombie from about noon on. 

For instance, I fell asleep when I got home on Monday and woke up only when the phone rang.  But I was so deeply asleep that I literally had no idea who I was when I woke up.  I couldn’t have told you my name for at least a minute; I’m pretty sure I thought I was on a ship in the seventeenth century.  !!!  Isn’t that WEIRD?  I blame this extremely pretty book:

The Confusion, by Neal Stephenson

(Goodness, what an apropos title, I suddenly notice.)  So far it’s all about Barbary corsairs (pirates!) in the late 1600’s, and also it is awesome.  Alert readers may remember that the first book in this trilogy was one of my favorite books last year, but I’ve been delaying reading book 2 because it is also Quite Long and will probably Require Months to Read.  However, my mom recently picked up book 1 and then ran off with it, so now I know I have to finish book 2 TOUT SUITE before she comes back and runs off with that as well. 

See, it’s like writing: hopefully I’ll also read faster with a deadline!  🙂

But I must admit I am distracted by checking the Internet every twenty minutes to see if there’s been any news on the fall TV schedule (even though I know perfectly well the official word is still two weeks away) (rarrrgh!).  It is funny to me to realize that not everyone on the planet is as obsessively interested in TV news as I am.  Why isn’t everyone else dying to find out if Chuck was picked up?  Or what day of the week the new show Flash Forward will be scheduled? 

More specifically, I want to know if there’ll be anything new next year that might be worthy of the same love as Battlestar Galactica and Veronica Mars (especially since I think I’m about ready to break up with Heroes and Ugly Betty, DEEP SIGH).

The fun part is that previews for some of the shiny new shows are already appearing on the Internet (WHEE!).  I’ve found two I’m excited about, although they’re both comedies, so not quite in the Battlestar vein, but that’s OK!

This first one is actually getting an "early preview" on May 19, and then it’ll be back in the fall on FOX:

OMG ADORABLE.  It’s like High School Musical meets the Chris Klein storyline from American Pie meets Mean Girls meets John Tucker Must Die!  With lots of singing!  I AM V. EXCITED.

The other one is Community, which is a new sitcom on NBC that has somehow snagged Joel McHale and CHEVY CHASE (!) along with a completely hilarious supporting cast:

Put that on Thursdays with The Office, 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, and I’ll totally be there.  🙂

Looking at these two shows side by side, I can tell you why I’m excited about them in particular (at least, based on what we can guess so far!):

(1) Strong supporting characters
(2) Cute boys
(3) Possibility for romance
(4) A scrappy underdogs story
(5) Hilarious dialogue

In fact, they’re both about a motley group of characters who wouldn’t otherwise be friends, but who are thrown together by something (in one case, glee club; in the other, a community college study group).  This is a great way to introduce us to new characters (they meet each other at the same time as we’re meeting them), showcase different kinds of funny, set up potential romances that aren’t just between the two main characters, and lay the groundwork for conflicts to arise, just from who the characters naturally are. 

The Office does this really well; I actually wish we got to see more of those supporting characters (Stanley!  Creed!  KELLY KAPOOR!).  And in the book world, I think Suzanne Collins accomplishes this perfectly in The Hunger Games.  She’s got a lot of competitors to juggle, but she does a great job of giving us a few super-distinct characters to remember without confusing us by describing everyone.  Lemony Snicket is good at this, too — the new guardians for the Baudelaires in each book are usually VERY unusual and memorable!

So that’s my author-y suggestion for the day: think about your supporting characters!  In Avatars, there aren’t many "supporting characters" in the first book, because everyone in the world disappears except for five people.  Sooooo…that sort of narrowed the focus.  :-)  But if you’ve gotten to book 2, you know that suddenly there are quite a lot of supporting characters, and I hope they’re all kind of weird and surprising and distinct.  That was the goal, anyway!

There’s more room in a TV series to develop these characters, because TV shows (hopefully) go on long enough to explore lots of storylines.  A book has to be tighter than that, so there might not be room for a supporting-character romance, for instance. 

But maybe in a series…the thing about Pet Trouble is that people who are supporting characters in one book can end up being the main character in the next book (like Rosie, Danny’s little sister and the star of book 3, whom you just see briefly in books 1 and 2).  So I HAVE to make them interesting, or else their own books will be YAWNTASTIC.  Hmmm.  Hopefully I am succeeding at this!

This weekend I was rereading the vampire novel I wrote, which is coming out in September (to check it for mistakes before it goes to print…I don’t just lie around rereading my own books because I loooove them so much, don’t worry!).  ;-)  And I really found myself wanting to investigate the supporting characters more — Kira mentions her friend Vivi, and Daniel mentions his sisters, none of whom we really meet, but even as I was reading it I kept thinking what I could do with them if I get to write a sequel one day. 

Anyway.  I think it can’t hurt an author to put as much effort into visualizing their supporting characters as they do their main characters.  It just makes the whole book more vibrant, if you ask me.  

Look at me steering my TV fascination into writer-y talk!  Don’t we all feel wiser now?  ;-)  Or at least a little more excited for fall TV?  Man, if only my books sang thrilling Journey songs when people opened them…

Quote of the Day:
Future Lily: Okay, bridges are wild. Four of a bridge beats a royal bridge.
Future Ted: I see your bridge, I raise you three bridges.
Future Marshall: Bridge! I win!
Barney: You have no idea how to play bridge, do you?
How I Met Your Mother