***SPOILER ALERT*** Anybody who is reading my book and doesn’t want to know the ending, don’t read this post.
I’ve always been weirded out by writers writing about writing. Obviously, it can be done well. I was once given a book on writing by Joyce Carol Oates and I enjoyed it immensely. Everyone says Stephen King’s On Writing is exceptional. It is something that can be done well, and I can understand why a JCO or a Stephen King would want to tackle the subject. But as a subject of casual conversation, I don’t get writers writing about, or talking about, writing. It’s not something I feel comfortable with, probably for the same reason you don’t see too many paintings of people painting. Why paint a picture of someone painting a picture when there is an entire world out there of subjects to be put on canvas? Why turn inward when there’s so much more outward? These are my thoughts, anyway. And they are thoughts long held. As a teen I was a huge King fan, until he hit roughly the sixth book in a row about a writer whose imagination actually brings to life some monster. You know when a 16 year old thinks you’re self-indulgent, it’s a bad sign. All of that said – I am a wicked hypocrite, because this post is going to be all about a.) my writing and b.) my own very King-like experience.
As most of you know, this last week has been muy ocupado. My friend Axel came down to South Carolina from NYC in order to shoot a book trailer for Truth Be Told. I’m not sure who came up with idea first, but I know my thought was Axel would put some of his flash talents to bear and he’d make a little graphics and still shot trailer. Except he told me he was “writing it.” And I was like, “how the hell does it take you this long to write a little flash animation book trailer?” Then I got the trailer that Axel wrote. Holy Awesome, Batman! Axel had done a fantastic job, but I was blown away by how ambitious it was. I wasn’t sure if I could swing it. And then he called me to say he’d bought his plane ticket. It was go time.
Thanks to the generous nature of Southeners, locations and cast quickly came together. In the process, a lot of things changed from the book to the trailer. For example, Deputy Young is described as follows: “From the passenger side a deputy unfolded his long limbs. He was blonde and painfully thin, his body nothing but flat planes and points. The only round thing about him were his eyes, which were overly large and opalescent.” Playing Deputy Young was Officer Richard Gooch. Gooch is essentially the exact opposite of that description, but what he brought to the table was a whole other kind of scary, and it was awesome.
For me it was a fantastic experience. I watched as this thing, which had previously lived inside my head, came to life in the outside world. As it came alive, it morphed and changed. Axel, the actors, and the locations stretched the scenes, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, and I loved it all.
As I hustled my bustle, pulling together eight locations, a cop car, a hearse, and a diverse cast, some things didn’t come together as easily as others. We quickly found our main character, the absolutely stunningly awesome Mary-Margaret Coble, as well as most of the other speaking roles. But we hadn’t found Paul. One night, about a week before the shoot, I sat in my tiny kitchen with Evan and our friend Dan Dinger. Dinger knows everyone. Literally. Dinger knows every man, woman, and child in a three county radius. I was fussing about not being able to find someone to play Paul, and Dinger said, “describe him to me.” And so I did. Dinger goes, “I know that guy. His name is Skinny.” Dinger picked up his phone, dialed, and said to the unknown man on other side, “My friend Carrie needs you to be in a movie. Here she is.” I told Skinny that Dinger was a trip and Skinny agreed. Right away I thought, the voice is right, but will he look the part?
The next day Skinny and Dinger came over to our house before we all headed out to dinner. As Skinny got out of his truck, it was as creepy an experience as I’ve ever had, and suddenly I knew why Stephen King became so enamored with this notion of one’s imagination coming to life. Skinny looked EXACTLY like the character I had written. He sounded EXACTLY like the character I’d written. And he behaved EXACTLY like the character I had written. This was unnerving, because the character I’d written was a serial killer.
During dinner I felt compelled to ask Skinny if he actually was a serial killer. I think he answered with, “maybe.” Or something else equally disturbing. Honestly, it took me a few days of being around Skinny to separate the real person from the character. I eventually learned Skinny has a pet squirrel and a cat named Charlie, he’s an extremely hard worker, super competent, and an all around decent person. In other words, he’s nothing like Paul. Except for the fact that, on the outside, HE IS EXACTLY LIKE HIM. SERIOUSLY, IT’S WEIRD.