Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Dark Harvest at Seton Catholic Central High (Part 1)

Kevin Lucia's Creative Writing Class at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton, New York recently finished reading Dark Harvest, and the students shot me a few questions about the novel:

Mariah: Where did you get the idea for the unique structure and changes in POV in Dark Harvest?

The initial spark came from the campfire stories I loved as a kid -- tales of ghosts, vanishing hitchhikers, and hook-handed killers who prowled places that always seemed to be right around the corner... or just down the road. My dad told stories like that, and so did my brother and some of the older kids in the neighborhood. I've always remembered the immediacy of those tales, and how they captivated me on the summer nights when I first heard them. That's what I was aiming for in the opening sections of Dark Harvest. I wanted to grab the reader and pull them into the world I'd created the same way those stories grabbed me when I was a kid.

Once I had the reader, I used some other tricks to move the story along and move it from character to character. Some of the techniques came from film -- there are several tracking shots in the book, and those were a lot of fun to write. The one that carries the reader out of town on an October wind, past Rod Serling in the cornstalks and on toward the October Boy and the gang of teenage hoods stalking him was just a blast. I don't think I've ever had as much fun putting words on a page as I did writing that section of Dark Harvest.

Marieke: Did it take long to work it (structure/POV) out?

Some sections were easy, others were hard. The trickiest one was a little dance between the POV of Dan Shepard and all the fathers who'd come before him who'd sent sons out on the Run. The reader becomes a character in that section as well, so it was a challenge to write.

Pat, John, Marieke: Why black licorice streets?

Just a little Halloween poetry there... and a tip of the hat to a favorite writer of mine (Ray Bradbury).

Marieke: Did you intentionally use so many metaphors?

Yes. My aim was to provide a rhythm for the story, and for the voice I wanted the reader to hear in his or her head. It was also my way of painting a distinct picture of the town and the people in it. I wanted those metaphors to spark images in the reader's mind that were just a little bit different, images that (hopefully) would stick with them and (in some cases) grow stronger with repetition as the story moved forward.

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That's it for today. Next up, more questions concerning inspiration, motivation, and the October Boy himself.