Thursday, October 9, 2014
Guest post Hooked by Bobbi JG Weiss
His name is Jonathan Stuart, and he’s just an ornery post-alcoholic bookstore owner from Pasadena with a mania for fencing and a bad habit of disappointing his girlfriend. He doesn’t want to be in the Neverland, impossibly trapped aboard the with a horde of greedy stinking pirates. He was tricked there by Peter Pan.
The following author bio is taken from the author's web site http://www.weisswriters.com/
Hi! Bobbi here!
David and I like to say that we’ve sold just about every form of writing there is, from James Bond collector cards to LensCrafter ads, from Disney’s MMO to the silly little comic strips that used to be printed on Donald Duck Orange Juice containers. Now we've entered the wild world of self-publishing. It's about doggone time we write our own stuff, woot!t Captain Hook.
HOOKED: Setting and Point-of-View
This article contains spoilers!
The various settings I use in Hooked aren't arbitrary locations — they are the plot, they define the plot. The settings form the basis of the whole story. The protagonist, Jonathan Stuart, starts out in the real world, which is already giving him problems, and he ends up in a fantasy world that's worse. Much much worse. And he wants out. So setting is everything in Hooked.
I opened the story in 1989 because 1) I wanted to use the Loma Prieta Earthquake, and 2) I wanted Stuart to live in an area of upheaval. Hooked is a story about one of the worst upheavals a person can experience — abduction — so I wanted to foreshadow it in a clear, almost obvious, way. I decided on Pasadena because, in 1989, the downtown area was a mass of construction (I know what it was like, I lived nearby!).
In any major city, construction areas create a feeling of environmental change-by-force, and they bring inconvenience and stress, especially in downtown locations. Downtown Pasadena in 1989 was a mess, and this reflects Stuart's own life before the story even begins. Also, construction implies an architect in charge, someone who is changing things, even rebuilding things from the ground up, for a pre-determined purpose. That's the plot of Hooked in a nutshell! (Side note: I also just love the word Pasadena. It's intrinsically funny, as when Stuart says, “I’m just a bookstore owner from Pasadena!” Yeah, yeah, it's like "the little old lady from Pasadena..." Not quite as good as Cucamonga, but close.)
Another setting in Stuart's reality is his bookstore. I made him own a bookstore because I wanted him to have one foot out of reality from the start. He loves to read. He loves just being around books because stories are a way for him to escape the tragic aspects of his life. His house is also full of books, by the way. The fact that his ultimate Hell becomes the Neverland, one of the most beloved of all storybook worlds, is therefore made all the more ironic.
Once in the Neverland, setting is everything — not because Stuart is now in a fantasy world that’s really cool, but because his goal is the opposite of what most people would think. He wants to get out. Everything he does from the moment he arrives is an attempt to get back home. Sure, he can see how beautiful the Neverland is, and he wishes he could have been there as a child, but he's an adult, and that makes the place Hell. No, even worse than that — it's a Hell designed specifically for him (I did mention an architect earlier, right?).
The Neverland is a place of beauty. The verdant greenery of Pan’s island serves as a symbol of newness, of growth, of potential. The place is full of life and practically humming with glorious magic. It's designed to please children so, naturally, Stuart can't experience it that way. That aspect is not for him. He has to sit there and yearn for all the goodness but not be allowed to partake of it. All he gets is the bad stuff, and there's plenty of bad stuff there!
I want Peter Pan fans to know that I have not turned Barrie’s amazing creation dark. That is to say, I have not written a story where Peter Pan is evil and the Neverland is a scary place full of evil magic and monsters or something. I admire Barrie too much to do that, and I love the original story of Peter Pan too much to even think of doing it. The Neverland of Hooked is the same wonderful magical place that Barrie created, and Peter Pan is the same wonderful child hero. But to adults, well… that's another matter. Stuart’s predicament takes nothing away from Barrie’s original setting. It’s all still there. It just depends on your point of view, that of a child or that of an adult. Even in Barrie's novel, the adults (pirates) had a pretty rotten time in the Neverland. That's where much of the idea for Hooked came from.
Our real world seems to operate the same, don't you think? As kids our planet is a wonderful adventurous place. But the older we get, the more dangers we recognize, the more worries we develop, the more we experience how things can go wrong and hurt us. Yes, the wonder of the world remains (hopefully), but adults have been through too much to just leap around and laugh all day. Adults have to face the dark aspects of reality because we must take care of the little ones. It's sort of a vicious circle.
So that's how I approached setting in Hooked. The novel, obviously, goes into great detail about all I've mentioned above, and poor Jonathan Stuart must struggle with it all. But hey, it's a dark fantasy/horror. Stuart doesn't stand a chance. Or does he?
I'm not telling.