Week Twenty-Three: Reading Mr. S, Revisiting Characters’ Childhoods, and Regaining Youth at ACE!
June 12, 2012 § 4 Comments
June 10th, 2012
I started reading Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra by George Jacobs. Jacobs worked as Sinatra’s right hand from 1953 to 1968. I picked this book up at the library for some background research on one of my main characters, who is Italian and grew up in the fifties and sixties. It’s fascinating to read about this era’s entertainment scene and the socio-political goings-on and the drama and intrigue of the stars, particularly the bittersweet love affair between Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. “It seemed to me that the entire fifteen years that I had been with Frank were a kind of crazy odyssey on his part to do everything in the world, and I mean the entire world, to get over losing her,” Jacobs writes.
I thought I knew my characters. I really thought I knew my characters, until I started going through the Character Profile exercise outlined by Kirt Hickman in his book Revising Fiction. Not only am I finding out that I do not know my characters like I should know them, but I am discovering new layers to my characters whom I thought were already pretty multi-dimensional. Last week I worked out their astrological signs. This week I’m visiting their earliest memories and childhood traumas. I had been so focused on the characters’ current and recent traumas, it never occurred to me I need to understand their childhood, even though I am always saying everything stems from childhood. I ran into Kirt Hickman at the ABQ Comic Expo (ACE) this weekend and told him that he’s causing me more work. “You thought you were done,” he said. Exactly. Speaking of ACE . . .
A few months ago I wrote a blog post about how I had lost a whole chunk of comic books from my adolescence, and it felt like I had lost a chunk of my adolescence as well. This weekend, at ACE, I got it back. I was wandering around the huge exhibition room with all the comic book vendors and saw a box with a divider sticking out if that read “The New Teen Titans.” I ran over and flipped through the plastic-wrapped comics and there they were. Copies of almost every issue I had lost, plus a few more that I had never even known about. I bought them all. To make this whole thing even sweeter, the man who was the editor of the Teen Titans series back then, Len Wein, was at the Expo. I now have a “New Teen Titans” comic book signed by Len Wein. That which was lost, plus a whole lot more, has been found. ACE rocks!