The hills are alive with the sound of...inspiration? See why JA Beard is really glad he got a last minute ticket to a musical, and see why a little bit of Broadway might be just what you need to pump a little feeling into your story. Read on!
A Little Inspiration Courtesy of Broadway
Underestimating the popularity of a Broadway show almost killed The Emerald City before I wrote down a single world. The story, though I now love it, was not birthed from some deep and long-lasting desire to write a modern young adult urban fantasy version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. While I’ve always liked the original Oz book, I’m really more of Alice in Wonderland man. So why do I now have a story about a Kansas girl and her heartless, cowardly, and scatter-brained friends instead of a story about a girl named Alice? Musicals.
|"Wu's Wok makes me a bit |
green too, Miss West."
When the Broadway traveling show of Wicked rolled into town, I eagerly snapped up a ticket. Well, I attempted to snap up a ticket at least. Apparently buying tickets only three hours after they went on sale was enough to ensure I could only get matinee tickets for the final performance day.
I loved the show. I also found myself inspired by the show. All the music and angst planted a seed of a new idea in my head. I knew I wanted to do my own take on Dorothy Gale and Oz, but something that was a bit more modern. Even the musical structure, in a way, worked its way to my story. Singing plays a key role in several chapters of my book.
At the time, I was actually working on something completely different, a Regency paranormal romance. Once I finished off the main draft of that book, I decided I would work on this new Oz-inspired book a little bit each day as well. That was December of 2010.
A “little bit each day” became “four to six hours each day.” By the end of December, I completed a first draft. Things had already changed a lot just in that one month. Characters and plot points were adjusted. My lead, Gail Dorjee, went from a juvenile delinquent to more of a law-abiding but hot-headed type.
Something just wasn’t there. I liked the story and the characters, but I just wasn’t feeling it. The Emerald City was supposed to be a story about a girl hurting from the loss of her parents and sent away from her Kansas home to Seattle against her will. For all the supernatural weirdness that occurs, the story was supposed to be a strong emotional journey as well. I wrote the darn thing, but the emotions came across as muted.
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At times I wonder about my last day Wicked tickets. If I’d waited a few more hours and the show sold out, it very likely might have been years before I was inspired to write this book. I guess it was a good thing I got up early that day.
J.A. Beard likes to describe himself as a restless soul married to an equally restless soul. His two children are too young yet to discuss whether or not they are restless souls, but he’s betting on it. He likes to call himself the Pie Master, yet is too cowardly to prove his skills in an actual baking competition. So, really, he’s merely a Potential Pie Master.
While writing is one of his great passions, science is another, and when he’s not writing or worrying about baking, he’s working on the completion of his PhD in microbiology.
He blogs at riftwatcher.blogspot.com and is on Twitter as @jabeard_rf.
His current release, a young adult urban fantasy, THE EMERALD CITY, details the transition of a Kansas teen to a sinister Seattle boarding school. It’s available for sale at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-emerald-city-ja-beard/1108613536?ean=2940014100717&itm=1&usri=the+emerald+city+beard