Now Playing -
Trouble, by Ray Lamontagne
Work. Lots of it, and I keep doubling back, so close one night, leaving for work at 2pm, arriving home around 11:15pm, then I leave for work at 7 am and arrive back home around 5pm. The problem is that I can't go straight to bed after work, I have to goof around and eat and shower... maybe read a bit, so I don't usually hit the pillows till closer to 1am or so. Bah to that. My new store is full of well meaning but poorly trained people that I will soon have to change.
Speaking of trouble. I'm becoming concerned about my book. All modesty aside, I love it. I think I would have read the crap out of it as a child. It has fun characters in it, like Smith himself, who is shy and embarrassed about it. He's the son of two renowned explorers and scientists, yet his bravery hides behind the covers of books. Uncle Cannon, who never met a story he couldn't turn into a better lie. The sweet and understanding Aunt Grace. Birdsey - librarian, historian, quilter and kook. The cousins extraordinaire. Trouble makers, twins, pranksters. Their older brother Beckett, who collects treasure after storms and pines of leaving the tiny village for bigger things. And of course, Smith's friend Noelle Carniveau, who is smart and funny, confident and daring - everything Smith wishes he could be.
But that may be my downfall. I've become afraid that Smith is the product of an earlier age, a fictional world that has faded into obscurity while a snarkier, crasser, modern class takes the stage. I intentionally designed the village of Moonstone Bay to have a timeless quality about it. There are no cell phones and when Noelle goes missing, they have to call the state police to get help combing the area. I wanted it to concievably exist in the 1950's as easily as today. There are modern conveniences of course, the twins have video games and Cannon's boat, the Luna Sea has radar and GPS mapping, but I wanted the feel to be there.
I was hoping to evoke the tone of the classics I read as a kid, the gothic drama and mystery of the John Bellairs books, the secret nights of Something Wicked This Way Comes, where anything can happen. The whimsy and clever humor of Roald Dahl and Donald Sobol. And I think I did pretty well.
Unfortunately, I'm not totally sure that today's reader wants that. I've been reading a few Middle Grade books lately that are more contemporary and they've made me question my choices a bit. Percy Jackson, for example, is sarcastic and, for lack of a better word, kind of bitchy. A few others keep that tone, and with the exception of a few british authors, I'm not finding much with the feel of my novel.
Is there room in this modern world for an innocent story about ghosts in the forest, exploring creepy houses and making new friends?
Man, I hope so. I have, more than once, considered re-writing The Whispering Ferns as a more modern story. I wrote a few chapters in first person, with Smith more sarcastic and knowing, and it did let me show off a bit more. He could be humorous and still lovable. (I think) But it didn't feel totally true to the story I wanted to tell. The more worldly I make him, the less convincing it is when he's worried about making friends, or nervous about trying to rescue Noelle by himself.
What say you, people of the world wide web? Is there room in a modern, texting, Family Guy universe for an innocent series about ghosts, buried treasure, family and friends?