Alexandra Diaz is a Cuban-American author who splits her time between Bath, England and Sante Fe, NM, which makes me totally jealous as those are both wonderful cities. She wrote the recent release OF ALL THE STUPID THINGS and is here today to share her inspiration.
(Photo by Owen Benson.)
The idea of the book came with the initial statement, “Brent Staple is such a banjo.” Now before you start thinking that the book was heading towards some folk version of High School Musical (hmm, maybe next time...) let me explain what I envisioned a “banjo” to be. A “banjo” was a term my friends and I coined in college and it pretty much referred to someone you would love to hate. My original title was even called The Banjo Diaries. But, sadly, no one other than my college friends knows what a banjo is and even though Pinkie, one of my protagonists, included a Banjo Lexicon with seven different entries for when it's acceptable to call someone a banjo, the idea didn't fly. So even though I think that's a brilliant opening line and it was what inspired the whole book, it was deleted before the book went out to publishers. Fortunately the phrase still worked to inspire the bases of the book. Even though the word was no longer there, the meaning was. Brent had done something wrong, something scandalous, so I had to figure out what, and why, and how the consequences of that action would effect my protagonists, Tara, Pinkie, and Whitney Blaire.
I knew from the start that I wanted three protagonists. I liked the challenge that would bring and liked how the friendship dynamic would change depending on how they each interpreted the banjo that is Brent. Each girl was going to have a different personality and a storyline as a result of that personality. Tara is the athlete focusing on her running instead of her personal life. Pinkie the worrier who likes to keep all her chicks in line. And Whitney Blaire is the drama queen trying hide the hurt she feels inside.
Trying to figure out how everything is going to work is a bit like playing god, You try out moving your characters in one direction only to realize that doesn't work so you try something else. It's half imagination and half luck. At some point, characters and situations just started moving on their own. Once that happened, I just let them take off, make their own choices, and try not to cringe when they occasionally became banjos themselves. I sometimes think they did most of the work of writing the story themselves. I just hit the computer keys, and came up with the original idea!