You guys might remember back in July when I read and reviewed Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein ( My Review - HERE ) and absolutely fell in love with it. Cold Fury is hands down one of my favourite YA debuts of the year and quite possibly one of my all-time favourite reads. I liked it so much that I contacted the author to see whether he would like to do a guest post and interview on the blog AND HE SAID YES! So today I have a guest post about inspiration from T.M. Goeglein!
Where Inspiration Begins
In Cold Fury, my protagonist, Sara Jane Rispoli, is violently separated from her family. It was important that as the story progressed, her isolation progressed with it; equally crucial was her deepening sense of abandonment. At a critical point in the story, Sara Jane discovers that her parents kept a dangerous secret from her, one that may have caused their disappearance, and she can’t help but feel disappointment and anger at them for withholding it. Their failure left her completely alone. I tried to get those feelings onto the page, and to do that I drew on an old experience of my own.
When I was thirteen, I knew a kid who seemed to have no family.
The only tangible proof I ever saw of his parents’ existence were cigarette butts jammed haphazardly in overflowing ashtrays. He appeared to have no bodily siblings, either, only a ghostly older brother whose bedroom was a collage of heavy metal band posters and filthy laundry. In fact, the entire house was the dirtiest one I’d ever been in, from piles of old magazines and newspapers, to sinks full of crusty, crimson dishes, to inches of dust covering surfaces like newly fallen snow. The shades were always drawn, creating a sense of permanent dusk during the brightest times of day, and the air was infused with the sickly-sweet odor of burnt frozen pizza. Late afternoons, after baseball practice, he would open the front door to the empty house with his own key, we’d kick through the scattered detritus of soiled socks, gutted take-out cartons, and shoes that lay-where-they-fell, and head for the kitchen.
Despite the grimy counters and smeared cabinets, it was an absolute wonderland of junk food, as if grocery duties were fulfilled by four-year-olds with credit cards. Giant bags of unidentifiable snacks fried to a poisonous crisp, an endless supply of candy that made your mouth hurt just looking at it, carbonated brown liquid that could’ve fueled a rocket ship to Pluto, and not a healthy apple in sight. I sampled everything until I jittered like a hyperactive cockroach. My friend, though, seemed to have built up immunity to laboratory-designed pseudo-food. He could slam-dunk chocolate doughnuts stacked end-to-end like tiny tires, attack a tube of sodium-dusted potato chips like a beaver chewing pine logs, and then wash it all down with soda the color of nuclear waste and twice as deadly. At the end, he would only suck at his teeth and look around discontentedly, sigh, and suggest TV. “We can watch anything we want,” he would say. And we did.
He may not have been the loneliest kid I knew, but he was the most alone.
And then one day, he was gone, too.
The family moved a few months after we met and I never saw him again. What stayed with me though, from then until now, was an aura of desolation that hovered over him like a broken halo. His house, instead of a place where a family gathered, was a point of separation where, everyday, the inhabitants left behind a trail of crumbs, as well as my friend. The carelessness of the place was a reflection of how little they cared about him and I realize now, as the father of two perceptive little kids, that he knew it. The dim light in his eyes as he looked around his own house was the glow of disappointment – at being undervalued, disregarded, and even forgotten. Once, watching something bloody on television, sated on junk food, I casually asked when his family would be home. Without taking his eyes from the screen, the program flickering violently across his face in the shadow-filled room, he shrugged and mumbled, “Sometime.”
The word stopped me.
So chillingly vague that it could have meant at six p.m. or in six years, or never.
Check back tomorrow for my interview with T.M. Geoglein + Giveaway of Cold Fury!
Badass Bookie xx