REFLECTIONS ON WRITING A NOVEL SET IN THE EIGHTIES AND FILLED WITH NERD ANGST
Posted on January 6, 2017
Here's the unedited Author's Note from The Powers That Flee. The novel is basically done except for the epilogue, which I will write later today.
I can't seem to escape the eighties. It was the era where I spent the bulk of my teenage years. For that reason, it's etched into my mind as the worst of times and also the best of times. Because of my lack of smoothness with girls, I retreated into a cozy bunker, filling my refuge with anything Star Blazers (Space Cruiser Yamato for all us diehards), Buck Rogers, Ultraman, Micronauts, Star Wars, and ROM related―basically just about anything that stunk of comic books or the science fiction genre. Darin is me in so many ways, painfully inward and obsessed with the television and film of the time. I really do think my dad worried about my dating prospects when I stayed in on so many Saturday nights to peruse the latest batch of new releases from the comic shop rather than attempt to lead a normal hormone-fueled social life.
While I would've killed to kick my younger, sheepish self in the tuckus to push him into taking some sort of action with the many crushes I endured and never acted on, the adult version of me turned out not half bad. Actually, I've found age doesn't quite guarantee heaping helpings of wisdom, but it does allow for one to grow more comfortable in one's own skin. The desire to worry about what others around you think no longer looms so large.
Of course, it's also tempered with the biggest dash of Peter Pan you're likely to encounter in a grown man. I can't stop loving the things that also get kids super pumped. I'm still a creature at home with video games, pop culture, and those wondrous comic books. It's that youthful essence and connection that makes me good at my day job as a fifth grade teacher. I know what dazzles a young mind and what it takes to get them to express themselves in writing stories.
Growing up at any age isn't easy. Being a teen is tough. I wanted The Powers That Flee to be a send-up of those formative years and a chance to peer at my own experiences through a different filter. What would my sixteen-year-old self have done with super powers and an alien invasion? Lots of my life is in this sucker. I did have a bully named Eric who I never understood why he chose me as his victim. I often felt powerless because of my introverted nature. Grafting a new power every seven days to my character really felt like a fun premise.
The influences on this project are many: the Body Snatchers films, Back to the Future (the first and best of the three), Star Wars and my unhealthy obsession with comic books that continues to this day. I still love a good costumed adventure yarn here in my middle years.
I'm hoping you enjoyed my little trip through eighties nostalgia. I'm not through with that decade, though. My next book, quite a departure from this novel, will take place in 1988 and delve into ghosts and family loss. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Ghost Coast later this year. I get to explore the Maryland shore and revisit my trips to the beach with a little spirited embellishment to make it all that more interesting. Otherwise, you'd just be reading chapters of me baiting crab traps with chicken necks and losing the courage to approach that super cute, elusive girl who kept waving to me every time I saw here. I can smell the Fisher's Popcorn and feel the stab of pain from a big boardwalk splinter even all these many years later.