Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hot Pink Trailer

Yes, it's true.

I lived in a hot pink trailer.

It was, as my brother would have said, "Funky-do."

And not actually hot pink, that's just what Robin and Ben, the friends who let me live in it, affectionately called it. But it was pink with black accents and if I remember correctly, cool black and white diamond linoleum.

It was long and narrow and boxy and had it's own unique smell, but there was something uber cool about it. Definitely "vintage," but, more importantly, a place for me to stay.  It was parked in the back of my friends' large, sandy lot, behind their house and amidst eucalyptus trees, and if I could use only one word to describe how I felt living in a funky-do (not-so hot) pink trailer, it would be grateful.

The challenge at the end of each of the previous posts has been to identify in which book the place (or in the case of Max, the concept) wound up. This week I'll have to tell you which book the hot pink trailer appears in because it hasn't been published yet--it's in Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack. And because I'm a big believer and remembering the people who have helped me through my life, the dedication in Justice Jack will be to Robin & Ben.

Now, if you've read the previous posts about my nightmarish living experiences, you'll recognize that this one doesn't quite fit the mold. A funky-do trailer does not measure up to dangling black widows or psycho landlords, and I would never dream of dedicating a book to someone like Max. But this brings me to the reason behind telling you these stories about places I've lived.

In writing, place can be as much a character as the people in your story. I know that many of you aspire to be published, and, as you almost certainly already know, being a writer can make for scrappy living. So what I want to encourage you with this week is the reality that hard times (and funky-do landlords and living quarters) will give you much  more to work with as far as setting and character than a smooth, easy life or a swanky apartment where the toilet always flushes and you've never had to wield a plunger or patch the roof or smash a black widow spider.

Or, for that matter, escape a man who thought you were his long lost Athena.

So if you're someone who's going through a tough time, chin up! Just think of all the material you're collecting! There are so many things in my books that come from life off the smooth lane. And they include so many things I know how to do because I had to figure them out or do them to 'survive'. Many I cursed or hated or asked myself why me?  But now that I have survived I have those real life experiences (and funky-do places) to draw from. Sammy is Sammy because I didn't lead a smooth-lane life. Scary times, hard times, strange people, scrapes with the law...all of it gives you character which can't help but transfer into your characters.

So take notes. Take pictures. Remember the smells and the sounds and the pain. Get through the dark days of your life and then use them to make your own light.

It's the only way you can look back and smile.


Yusa said...

Thanks for such an inspiring post!
Hard to imagine the creator of Sammy in a HOT PINK trailer. I'd love to know how you came to live with that. Or even how you came to own it.
Speaking of THE POWER OF JUSTICE JACK, i still can't wait for it!
I remember in 4th grade when i read sammy keyes and i used to think OMG shes in 7th grade and shes so big and adventurous! Now im in 8th grade and i realized last year when i re introduced them to me again that i was the same age as her. SCARY. It made me love the books even more. I wanted to learn how to skate board ever since then but i never got the chance. :( Thankfully rollerblading has made up for some of that loss because of Cricket and her bro.
Oh i was checking your blog all day to see if you had posted anything and when i finally checked now at 10:00 you had.
Speaking of which how many more stories do you have to share? Was this your last one because it was mentioned your latest book?
Anyways can't wait for next week!
--- Yusayera (try pronouncing that name :)

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Yes this was the last living quarters story -- next week I'm planning to show you the paperback art for SK&thePofJJ -- it is awesome!

Ryan said...

I often blog about my adventures while traveling, and the best stories always come from when things go wrong. The crazier, scarier, and more unexpected the disaster, the better the story becomes. =)

Squeezing through barbed-wire fences in the jungles of Guatemala to escape protesters and finding ourselves in a situation where a member of the US embassy said we were "essentially hostages" and that they'd evacuate us... yes, that scenario was definitely not on our itinerary, but WOW--what an adventure!

Plunging into a pool of cold water and unable to get out, actually thinking, "Don't panic--if you panic right now, you could die." Yep, not according to plan, but what a great story after the fact! =)

A vacation where everything always goes according to plan is a boring vacation. *nodding* It's the bad stuff that makes the story entertaining! =)

-- Ryan

AbaGayleb said...

A HOT PINK trailer? I can't see it. It's too. . .odd. I just can't imagine it! I mean, I know the house I'm living in (or used to? Hard to say, 'cause we painted it) is terrible. The color was this washed-out grey-ish blue -- and not the pretty kind either. Think for grey. . .and dark. Creepy.

We had, literally, about 7 trees in our front yard, and 23 in our back. Some trees came in handy, because we got to use them for a hammock, but besides that, it was not fun. Especially cutting them down, and taking those 50lbs. pieces of tree up to our front yard (It's on a hill). It was TERRIBLE. But, I can't complain anymore. The work is done, and our house is pretty flipping nice. (:

Thanks for the inspiring words. I hadn't thought of it like that.


Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Ryan: Wow! It sounds like you and Sammy should team up. And the key to collecting things to write about is (as you make very clear) surviving them! Glad you did :-)

Yusa said...

OMG i just realized ti wa your B-Day on the 6th so... HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!
(I hope i didn't get it wrong)
I tried to be polite and not do the math to see how old you were :)

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Yes it was my b-day and yes I'm gettin' old! As my astute father in law points out, it's better than the alternative! Thanks for the happy-day wish :)

Kylie said...

Yay! Can't wait for next week to seethat Justice Jack paperback (hey that rhymes!). And I think it really cool how you turned a bad living stituations into something good. Now I want to see how you pu it into Justice Jack!!

Marjorie said...

Love your last line in your post. "Get through the dark days of your life and use them to make your own light." Thanks for the inspiration!

bookworm said...

That's exactly how i view life. A great way to create a story. :D


Unknown said...


You are just as freakin' hilarious as you were way back when!!!! Er...for some reason, I'm having a vision of the episode in the faculty club. Must be ensuing dementia. Carry on, HB.

bookworm said...

Hey.... will there be another offer of winning an ARC copy of SK & justice jack? that would be amazing.......... :)

I Love 2 Read 26 said...

That is a very inspiring post! Because I was unable to post on your previous posts, I just want to say wow! I can't believe you have been through all of that! No wonder Sammy has so many adventures! I seriously thought that you just made up the whole Max thing in Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy. It makes a book more special when you know this was based of an experience in the author's life rather than just out of their head. I would of been so freaked out if my landlord thought I was his long lost love!!! Anyway, thanks for the inspirational post! I can't wait for Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack!

Dário Júnior said...

I'm sorry I did not follow many of his works, to be honest, I watched the movie Flipped and I was delighted with the way it was conducted, the narrative and the feelings they convey. The movie was based on a book of his, then, I wonder if we can expect some continuation. I was wanting to know what Garrett will think when Bryce is with Jully in school, as the father of Bryce will react to knowing the relationship of his son with the daughter of Baker?
I am seriously considering buying the book, although not very good at English, Brazilian and I am eager to learn more about Flipped. This message was generated by Google translator, so forgive me if you have many errors.

Dário Júnior

Yusa said...

Well its a her if your wondering and her books are really good so you should try and keep reading them!