Thursday, June 12, 2014

Indie Writers Monthly Question

It's Thursday, which means it's the day I ask one of my what if questions. But Briane Pagel wanted a shot at it this week (and to tell you about IWM), so take it away, Briane...

The JuneRific IWM Blogtacular Marathon Of Made Up Words Blog Tour continues! IWM, for the acronymically challenged, stands for "Indie Writers Monthly" and is a blog and magazine put out by 5 great speculative fiction writers, offering you tips on writing and publishing and more.

This is part THREE of this modestly-titled tour, which presents to you

This is a hand, waving "hi!" Don't be shy. Wave back!

Part 3 WAS going to tell you where to find the Lost Dutchman's magic gold mine, but Liz reserves Thursdays for the big questions around here, and I love Liz's big questions, so I volunteered to ask my OWN big question, which won't be anywhere near as good as Liz's, because Liz'a always make me think of gods and robots and stuff. But I'll try.

The #3 Reason to Read IWM: We bring your imaginary childhood friends back to life!

As you all probably know, there was a flap this week when Slate magazine published an "essay" by a "writer" who in a blatantly annoying attempt to get publicity -- which is why I'm not linking to it, as we shouldn't encourage people like her-- in which this 'writer' said adults should be embarrassed to read YA books.

I don't read much YA. It's not really my thing. But I have read some (including the Harry Potter books, which we are required by law to mention whenever YA comes up)(the way we have to mention 50 Shades whenever adult literature comes up) and I still read things that would probably fall broadly into the category of "adults shouldn't read that," if you're going to be one of those annoying jerks who thinks telling other people what to read is a way to live your life.  Like comic books, which I read from time to time.

The entire Internet has already exposed this 'writer' for what she is-- annoying, pretentious, and wrong, so I won't elaborate more.  Read what you want. No reading is bad reading, as everything you read exercises your imagination and whets your appetite for more reading. When we start judging what people read, we make them embarrassed of it and turn reading into a chore. Who wants that?

So to rekindle the love of YA you might have forgotten or been book-shamed into ignoring, here's the big question:

Which characters from YA books you read do you wish were real, and why?

Hey, there's still a couple of days left to enter a time-travel story in our anthology! Win money! Enter by June 15, or if you really need a bit more time just ask!  Details here.

IWM is also a magazine: the June issue ("June Bugs") is on sale for just $0.99 on Amazon, and features three great short stories plus tips on coming up with titles, plus MORE! Get it here.

For me, I'm going to pick one that's maybe a bit obscure.  The first one that popped to mind when I thought of this question was a kid named "Roger," from the book The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear.

The book is by a guy named "Kin Platt," and I looked Platt up on Wikipedia today after going to find the book again.  Platt wrote radio comedies in the 30s, then Disney cartoons, and then worked on a movie written by Robert Benchley (who is one of my favorite authors, and is almost completely forgotten, but that's for another day.)  He then wrote comic books, and after a stint in the Army in World War II, he created a character called "Supermouse."  He wrote comic strips and then went on to write (in the 60s) for Hanna-Barbera cartoons like The Jetsons, which was another favorite of mine when I was young. He wrote YA books starting in 1961, mixing it with what were called "mysteries" that he wrote under pseudonyms -- mysteries like this:

"More innocent time" indeed.

His last book was published posthumously in 2005.  I never knew all that about the author, or even who the author was, but I never forgot his book The Boy Who Could Make Himself  Disappear.

It was about a kid named "Roger" whose parents had a rough divorce and who weren't very close with him.  A childhood accident had left Roger with a speech impediment, and he couldn't pronounce his own name: he said it "Wajah," and I've never forgotten that.  It's stuck with me for 35 or so years.  Roger's dad is an absentee and his mom is abusive and he ends up wandering around New York nearly having a nervous breakdown until he learns to cope with the help of a speech therapist and some friends.  It's It's like the anti Catcher In The Rye, in that Disappear didn't suck and wasn't overrated.

I read Disappear probably when I was 10, 11, and I've never forgotten the basics of the story or the parts that moved me, even though I've never gone back and read the book again.  Roger has stuck with me all my life, almost like a kid I actually knew. 

And so I pick Roger as the kid that I wish was real, and here's why.  I went to my 10-year high school reunion and none of the others, because of the few high school friends I wanted to see again, most didn't come back and in the end, we didn't have all that much in common anymore; in high school we'd all been friends but now we were lawyers and professors and ex-soldiers and whatnot, with kids or not, divorces or not, but lives that have grown apart.  The only connection we had was back in high school, and we had some fun talking about those old times.  I didn't, after that, have any real desire to see those guys again, although I do check in now and then just to see how they're doing.

Roger is like that for me.  He was one of the first characters in a book that I cared about.  Later on would come Luke Skywalker (who I wanted to be) and Bilbo Baggins (who I thought was amazingly brave) and Benjie and Ezzie from The 18th Emergency (who taught me not to hold my thumbs in my fist when I get in a fight) and Arthur Dent and more characters I liked or remembered or learned from as I read anything I could get my hands on.  But Roger was the first character I can ever remember really being affected by.  I would sit and think how hard it would be to not say your name, to have a dad that wasn't around or a mean mom, to be lost in New York.  He really connected with me.

If it wasn't for Roger and how his story cut through me, I might not have grown to love reading so much. Roger's story taught me that stories can stick with people their whole life and make them think. It's not surprising that I didn't even know 'til today that the author wrote other books or stuff. It wasn't the author that mattered to 10-year-old me.  It was Roger and his story.  He was my first book-friend.  And that's why I picked him.  Like my high school friends, I wouldn't necessarily need to meet him or hang out with him.  I'd just like to know he turned out all right.

Briane Pagel, and a waterfall.
(Guess which is which!)
You should bookmark Indie Writers Monthly.  Click here to go to the site.

And like I said, our June issue is on sale on Amazon for just $0.99 -- a bargain at 10 times the price! Well, not really, but it's a bargain at THIS price. Click here for that.

And there's still time to enter a story in our time travel anthology contest! Win prizes! Details here. (And if you need a bit of extension on the deadline, just ask. We're nice folk.) (Also, get it? Still time?)


  1. Thanks for posting this, Liz!

    1. You're welcome. Sorry it posted a bit late. (Forgot to make sure the time was correct. Oops.)

  2. Any fictional character would probably be disappointing in real life. Like if you meet William Shatner and realize he's not really like Captain Kirk.

  3. Real life hardly measures up to the movies, which are able to edit, cut and paste. NOW, if we all could do that?!

  4. This is an interesting question because I don't think I've read any YA books lately and didn't read the Harry Potter books. I would imagine some girls would have liked Edward from the Twilight Series to be real. I must broaden my reading and include a YA book here and there.


  5. The only YA book I've read lately was about a girl living during a time when the Earth's revolution began to slow down and the world was coming to an end so I certainly wouldn't want to be her. This was such an informative post I'm going to come back to it when I have more time and follow the links :)

  6. OK I am assuming YA means Young Adult-It took me a while:) I still have to finish the last book of Harry Potter but I would choose the whole Harry Potter world even the evil guys. Now I am 50 and don't give a yang when I read these books. I can also say I would like Anne Frank. Yes she WAS real and she died too young and in a horrible way but how I wished I could have known her & spoken with her when I was young. I read her Diary every year when in high school

  7. A lot of splendid reasons to read indie writers. So many good stories out there, and I love to read.

  8. I've never read a Tom Swift book, but I think I would pick Tom Swift. I mean, can you imagine the kinds of things he'd invent -today- considering the kinds of things that he came up with 100 years ago?


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