When I was writing the story, my main male character was faceless to me - shapeless. I had no idea how to make him come alive. And that's impossibly frustrating for a novelist - Toby, the character, was a huge part of the story.
Then I took my daughter to see Never Say Never.
Now, I never related to "The Bieb." I just didn't get it. Bieber Fever was everywhere, and all I could see was this skinny kid with too much hair in his face. Thank goodness my daughter didn't have a crush on him!
That's exactly when my daughter announced she had a crush on him.
I could have seen if it was Taylor Lautner, or maybe that kid who played the werewolf on The Wizards of Waverly Place - but JUSTIN BIEBER???!!! I didn't get it.
|I like the long hair. So judge me.|
|The kid from Wizards of Waverly Place. If you were 7, you'd like him - wouldn't you?!|
The school year wound on. Never Say Never came out. Genna begged me to see it, and I gave in. We went with a friend of hers - also crushing on Justin.
The movie started. I wasn't paying attention - I was still worrying about my book. It was going nowhere fast, and writing was becoming a chore, the kind you dread to do.
At that point I realized that the movie was pretty interesting. It was about someone like me, after all; a kid who had a passion and who was coming from nowhere to bring his creativity forward. The story of how he did that was fascinating.
|My kid will die when she sees this picture. Just die.|
And the kid himself was a lot - a LOT - cooler than I had thought. For one thing, he could solve a Rubik's cube in a minute, or so. (I can't do that.) He could shoot a basket from across the court and make it. (I certainly can't do that.) He worked really, really hard to fulfill a dream. (I'm trying to do that.)
Plus, I liked his mom, and his grandparents. And I liked Scooter Braun, the fellow who discovered him. And I liked the way they all almost revered the fans - handing out tickets before each show, bringing one Lonely girl up on stage to serenade her, giving away gift baskets and photo ops to those starstuck girls.
And Justin's personality emerged - someone who was trying to be heard, to develop a voice, yet who was at the same time imprisoned by his own fame.
It hit me. My main character, Toby, would also be in a type of prison, but of his own making, sort of. Toby would have a form of agoraphobia and wouldn't be able to leave his room.
But, like Justin, he would also be smart, gifted, and attractive. He'd have that "thing" that would make my heroine, Lizzy, weak at the knees. He just couldn't leave his room in the attic.
By this point the film was nearly over. Good thing, because I was dying to get home and write. After that, the book developed smoothly, and maybe, just maybe, I listened to the song Never Say Never while I was writing it.