Now for a little levity: OneFourKidLit author Molly Blaisdell’s novel PLUMB CRAZY debuts this week!
Elva Presley Hicks is about to attend her five-year class reunion, but the discovery of an old Star Trek fanfic manuscript stirs up summertime high school memories of her job as a plumber’s helper in the big city of Houston- and of handsome electrician Mitch McCall.
But as these things sometimes do, the summer romance fizzled and Elva moved on to life after high school. And while she’s ready to reminisce, she is unnerved when she runs into Mitch at the reunion. Can they give it another go after so much time has passed?
Once upon a time, I owned a cleaning business, so I was intrigued by a novel about a former plumber’s assistant. And then I began emailing Molly and realized I’d met someone who could absolutely capture the humor in such a summer! Let’s dive right in…
You’ve written over 30 books- in all sorts of levels and genres, but PLUMB CRAZY is your first book for older readers. Please tell us a bit about writing it.
My daughter Jubilee suggested that I write a book based on my crazy plumbing stories from high school and college. (Yes, one of my children is named after an X-Men character. I am that cool, at least in comic book stores.) My daughter specified that I should write in the present and not about the dark ages when I was I teenager, so that people would read my book.
Now for the glamour of writing a book: I set a goal of 2000 words a day. I write these words, and they suck like the vacuum of space. I take the pages to critique group. They tell me the words really, really suck, like a supermassive black hole. I keep writing this death-to-literature disaster until I have written a 90,000 word sucky book. I shove the sucky book in a file folder on my laptop.
Then a few months later I remember my sucky book. I pull it out and began revising. The next version is not quite as sucky, more like a regular black hole. This process happens again and again over the next few YEARS. Finally, I take out a literary scalpel and carve that manuscript down to 60,000 words. It’s lean and sleek, a raucous, funny, and wild ride. This kind of book is much easier to place with a publisher.
You mention in your blog that you fell off the sofa laughing while writing a few scenes. C’mon. Can you give us a few more details??
One of the things that I loved about writing Plumb Crazy is it made me laugh my head off. The scene that sent me “off the couch laughing” was an epically awful make-out scene. Was I mocking all those bad make-out scenes in my real life? Maybe. The dream guy has bad breath, an unmentioned girlfriend, and the beginning of a beer belly. Yeah, I did date a guy kinda like that. So wrong. I will say I am a fan of slightly “dark humor” and hone my craft by watching episodes of the Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Family Guy, and South Park. Research, cough, procrastination, is important.
You had a blog post about mining memories and real experiences for our writing. The most notable example was that you were actually a plumber’s helper.
I mined lots of memories to write Plumb Crazy. I distinctly remember sweeping up plastic shavings from cutting PVC pipe as a teenager. I chanted to myself: “I will find something else to do with my life.” My character Elva Presley has a mantra too. Hers is: “Being poor sucks. Accepting it is the pathway of peace.”
There are more moments in the book that come from my life. My family raised goats and so does Elva’s. I loved country and western dancing and so does Elva. I worked with my dad, Elva works with her granddad.
I even saw a cute guy cut off his nose like Elva does in the book! One time I was on a job checking out the hot abs of a guy on a job site. He lost control of his saw and it was horrible. He didn’t cut off his nose but he needed a boatload of stitches. I wish I could say that I went “all Florence Nightingale” here but, alas, no. I struggled to a window and tossed my lunch. I like that Elva is much braver than I am.
And now for Star Trek! Did YOU write fanfic?
Of course! I wrote fanfic before the word “fanfic” existed. I gathered my nerd herd at lunch time. We had spiral notebooks where we co-wrote stories. There was a role-playing aspect to our fanfic. I was always Spock’s long lost daughter, you know from his hook-up with that stone-age chick. Anyway, I found my way into the future and just wanted my cold-blooded Vulcan dad to notice I was alive and approve of my hot “alien” boyfriend. Was that asking so much? I have always treasured these days and wanted to capture our camaraderie and how we used fanfic to survive our everyday lives in PLUMB CRAZY. I think you will be pleased with my efforts.
How fun must it have been to incorporate your own love for Star Trek into your novel! Your choice. You can either give us your answer or Elva’s on the following:
- Favorite Star Trek trivia: In the original Space Seed episode featuring Khan the classic literature quotes are from Milton’s Paradise Lost but then in The Wrath of Khan the classic quotes came from Moby Dick. Copies of Paradise Lost are found in the Botany Bay in The Wrath of Khan.
- Favorite Star Trek captain: I hate this question. So here’s my answer: Spock (Yeah, he was a captain for a while), James Tiberius Kirk , Picard, Riker, Old Pike, New Pike, Sisko, George Kirk (Uh, so I can add Chris Hemsworth, cough, Thor), Sulu, New Kirk, Mirror Universe Spock, Janeway. Note: Archer is not recognized by the Federation. We must be thankful for the small things.
- Favorite Star Trek villain: In classic Trek – Khan, baby! I’m talking Montalbán not Cumberbatch. (Though as Sherlock, he’s awesome).
And now, because we are community that is fearless, please name something that you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.
My worst fear: That J.J. Abrams will make a Star Wars/Star Trek crossover movie. Seriously though, I fear being irrelevant. I hunger above all things to say something that matters.
Something I don’t fear. I am not afraid to go there. I mean to “Boldly go” is part of my DNA, just like my character Elva.
Molly Blaisdell, author of Plumb Crazy(Swoon Romance, 2014), writes intriguing books for teens and children. She lives in College Station, Texas with her sweetheart and two cats, one evil and one good.
|Sarah McGuire lives within sight of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches creative writing and math classes with interesting word problems. During the school year, she lives off coffee, chocolate, and afternoon naps that let her write into the night. During the summer, she loves having the extra time to travel and, of course, write.Her debut novel, VALIANT, will be released from Egmont USA in Spring 2015.