Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Behind the Book: Some Kind of Wonderful

One of the reasons I’m a novelist is because of John Hughes. The director of eighties classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Sixteen Candles inspired my love of both film and storytelling. It wasn’t just that he captured moments of the era I grew up in; it was that he captured the soul of a teenager.

Three movies stand out to me: The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Some Kind of Wonderful.

As someone who attended four different high schools, I felt like I had four completely different high school experiences. I had different personas for each of the schools I went to. At times I was a jock, a rebel, an outcast, or part of the popular clique. All along I saw myself in John Hughes’s films. The agony of being a teen, the thrill of falling in love, the angst of saying good-bye, and the utter hilarity of being a teenager.

The music and mood of these films helped define my teenage years. My life could have been a John Hughes film. I wanted to be Blane from Pretty in Pink, but really I was Duckie. I spent my fair share of time in detention, yet I wasn’t as cool nor did I have one-liners like John Bender. I was always falling in love and making cassette tapes based on that love. I was that kid with the giant posters of musical groups plastered all over his bedroom walls.

John Hughes died on August 6, 2009, when I was still writing Solitary. I had already pitched this series as part Pretty in Pink and part scary movie. I wanted to detail some of my high school experiences with these books.

I believe the first eighteen years of a person’s life define the remaining ones. I was such a naïve kid when I was in high school, but that’s the beauty of that time. I didn’t know the big, bad world, and in ways, I was fortunate for it.

When I look back at those John Hughes films, there’s a certainly amount of naïveté about them. But there’s also a lot of heart. That’s what teen movies lack today: that passionate, beating heart.

This series is a nod to those years, and to one of the men who helped shape them.

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