I think if I had to characterize SLINGS AND ARROWS, it would be as a mash-up.
The first time I listened to a mash-up was sometime in late high school (look at that YA go). It was on my radio–because I’d gotten a radio for graduating eighth grade, like a boss– and it was the famous Green Day/Oasis one. It was pretty cool– taking two things that really did not match at all, and then combining them and making them work. Now mash-ups are super common– you can blitz through soundcloud and come up with Bastille vs. Katy Perry, and somehow, magically, the sound holds.
Sometimes, it even makes more sense than the original songs separately. Whenever “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” comes on the radio when I’m driving, I sing the Oasis part to fill in the gaps (and then bust out a little Eminem at the end, naturally) because it just sounds weird to me now without it.
S&A is a story told in two timelines. It’s the first time I have ever done this, and I don’t really remember what made me do it. Dual timelines is a lot like having dual POVs– at first, I was much worse writing Dominic’s past self (let’s call him GreenDay!Dom) than his present self (Oasis!Dom). I didn’t know enough about who Dominic was as his own person– he literally started out as a grief writing exercise, and his grief was defined by one person, Shelley.
I’ve always really admired fugues. Fun fact: I learned the word fugue at age 15 when I read THE BEEKEEPER’S APPRENTICE (it was my favorite book and it remains in a place of honor on my shelf today). Because mispronouncing things in front of my mum is a recurring motif in my life, I said how cool I thought fugues were and she cracked up because “fug-way” is not how you say “foog.”
(I did the same thing with balsam. “Oh honey, it’s ‘bal-sum,’ not ‘ba-sawm.'”)
Telling a story in two parts has been a trick that I’ve wanted to imitate for a while, and it feels pretty satisfying to get to do it. I feel like fugues are going to be a part of my writing always, even though I don’t plan on
ever ever ever my god doing dual timelines again. I remember that enthusiasm I felt as a teenager reading stories and freaking out when I realized what the author was doing, and one of the first times that happened was with fugues.
Sometimes it feels like my life is one big mash-up. I do math and I do writing, and I try to find the commonality between them (hint: it’s truth). And this is what I love, when I can use some ridiculous writing trick I learned from my favorite teenage book to pull massive shenanigans in a manuscript years later. This is why I write.