Friday, September 30, 2005

Research for the undead

Why I read what I read during my rough draft writing process, part 2.

As promised in the previous blog (where I talked about my impressions of THE HISTORIAN and how the book inspired me during the writing of my first Vampire Underground manuscript), I’m going to tell you why I chose to read Drew Barrymore’s LITTLE GIRL LOST for research about a book with undead characters.

First, let me say that I’m utterly charmed by Drew every time I see her interviewed. She seems very sweet and business-driven. But, as most of you know, she had a messed-up younger life. Her autobiography/biography details the horror of a child actress who had such low self-esteem that she began drinking at the age of nine. Yeah—NINE. Sure, it started off with stolen sips of beer at parties, but this was a kid who was allowed to go to fashionable clubs with people like Jack Nicolson and Cher. Everyone knew her as “the cutie from E.T.” but at the age of twelve, she was somehow able to dress so maturely that she passed for a hipster who looked old enough to fit right in at New York velvet-rope hotspots. By the age of ten, she was smoking pot. After that, it was a quick trip to cocaine then rehab.

So why was I reading this book for a vampire story? For character research. See, my heroine, Dawn Madison, returns to L.A. because her wayward father has gone missing. Soon, she finds out that Dad has been working for a strange detective agency, and he was on the case of a child actor who’s kind of done the opposite of going missing—a boy who actually died twenty-three years ago but who has just shown up in the background of a recent movie. (You got it—it’s based on the THREE MEN AND A BABY urban legend of the “boy ghost” in the background of one scene.) As Dawn comes to find out, little Robby Pennybaker—the unmissing boy—was not exactly an apple-cheeked darling. He lived a Drew Barrymore kind of life…but in a much worse way. (And, no, I’m not going to tell you why, because you’ll find out during the course of the story!)

Thus, that is the connection because LITTLE GIRL LOST and my latest WIP (work in progress). Stay tuned for my next blog when I explain how the heck DUNE MESSIAH and CHILDREN OF DUNE helped me through my vampire rough draft….

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