Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sammy Keyes Documentary

Sammy's Swoopy Skatepath?
There's a Sammy Keyes documentary being planned. Not a movie, a 20-minute documentary about why Sammy Keyes matters.

The person behind this is also the person coordinating the Sammy Keyes party on October 4th in Washington state, where the documentary will premiere. This is his vision and since he has a doctorate in children's literature and has been enthused about Sammy since Hotel Thief came out in 1998, I think it's okay to trust him with explaining what regular readers here already know--Sammy Keyes matters!

Anyway, there'll be a little docu-team coming here in mid-August to get a bunch of footage, and in preparation for that Mark and I ventured into "Santa Martina" to get some possible inspiration-location photographs.

Is there a Senior Highrise?

A Heavenly Hotel?

A St. Mary's Church?

A swoopy sidewalk around the mall?

Or the basement in Snake Eyes?

What about the it as described in Night of Skulls?

Well, yes and no.

After our picture taking tour, what struck me most was how an author's imagination fills in space and creates a renovation of reality. Something sparks an image in the writer's mind, and then it builds from there. And when you revisit the original inspiration you find  it's been dwarfed by the picture you've built around it.

The Heavenly Hotel, for example, was based on an old rundown hotel that had some faded pink trim. From that came the HEAVENLY with its pink neon sign and mirrored stairwells.

The point of the documentary is not primarily to document the places Sammy's world was fictionalized from, but rather to explore the contribution of the series. Genre fiction is often marginalized, and Sammy Keyes is considered genre fiction. A mystery series. And really, what can a mystery series contribute besides entertainment?

Recognition for the substance of Sammy Keyes has felt like a battle over the years. "Mystery series" seemed just too big a barrier for people in literature circles to see beyond.

Maybe it's because we've come to the end of the series that it can now be assessed as a whole body of work, not just "the next Sammy Keyes". Maybe this is an unexpected benefit of having reached the heart-wrenching end. I'm just grateful that someone has taken the lead on putting into words--and on film--why Sammy Keyes matters.

Because you know what? She does.

As always, thanks for checking in. Looking forward to seeing you in the comments!


Jessica said...

Wow, I saw that picture and immediately pictured the scene where Heather follows Sammy, and Sammy ducks in the bushes (in Psycho Kitty Queen, I think).

And this post got me a little teary-eyed. I hope the documentary will be available online. It sounds awesome! (And of course Sammy matters. She's like The Princess Bride; they just don't know how to describe her. Mystery? Romance? Adventure? Coming of age? Family story? Friendship? Revenge? School days? All of the above, and more...)

P.S. I got a skateboard last week, and while I'm not going to be popping ollies any time soon, I'm definitely already better than Marissa (not that that's hard). It's so much fun! That sidewalk looks fun to ride.

Yusa said...

Well yes! Sammy Keyes definitely matters. And I heard about this documentary from your twitter so I had a feeling this blog post was coming :) Is the Tv show/ movie project still in works or is this a replacement??

Sammy Keyes is about so much more than the mystery which is why I love it so much. All the back stories create a character, a world, we love and relate to and can learn so much from cuz she does matter to us.

Ah my skateboard is still sitting in myt garage since even after IO got it I still stuck to rollerblading my way around.


Kylie said...

When I saw this on twitter I was so excited! I have always loved the story behind the story type of thing.

The picture above is almost exactly how I pictured the skate path from the book.

When ever I recommend Sammy Keyes to someone I was have a hard time describing it. Because it is a mystery, but it is also so much more.

I am hoping this documentary will be available to be seen online because I really don't think I will be able to make it to Washington.

Have a fantastic week everyone!


Emma said...

The documentary sounds really cool! I've already seen many of the places mentioned in the books, though, because I live in "Santa Martina". Whenever I go down the street in the picture or pass St. Mary's, I always call out "Sammy Keyes territory!" Sammy' s world is so real to me that sometimes I almost expect to see her riding her skateboard to the mall with Marissa!

Jessica said...

Emma, that is so cool!

This week we're having a mini-mission trip at home for the youth group kids, and one of my group's projects was to help the school librarian dust the library. I found out she had picked "The Running Dream" as one of the summer reading books, and of course I gushed about that and Sammy Keyes. And she pulled out another "good mystery" series (plus Confessions of a Serial Kisser, which I haven't read yet) for me to check out. And she said she'll be ordering "Kiss Goodbye" and I can borrow it as soon as it comes in (so I don't have to wait for the county library's month+ delay)! And she has a contact for a local YA writer for me. Librarians are so nice! (I'm not affiliated with the school at all, just the church...)

P.S. She was equally bummed when you got snowed out -- er, in -- on "The Running Dream" tour.

Leah Lam said...

I am so excited for this documentary!!! Sammy matters for so many reasons, I'm surprised that they can fit it all into 20 minutes... Do you think it will be on sale?? It will definitely be something I want to take home with me!

Heather said...

I can't believe that there is finally going to be a documentary. They should have clips from fans saying how much we love and admire Sammy and for what reason she is so important and inspiring. I'm ├╝ber excited to see the documentary. I would have loved to be at the party in Washington, but alas I am on the other side of the US. The first Sammy Keyes book came out close to when I was born, making it feel like I had some deeper connection with Sammy. As she has come to grow throughout the series, I feel like I have grown just like her. I can't wait for the Kiss Goodbye (even though I will cry at the end of the super long journey I've had with Sammy), the documentary (which is bound to be awesome) and the party (which I will be at in spirit).

Gabrielle said...

I really with I could go and see that! I would love to see a Sammy Keyes documentary! It sounds awesome! I hope it will be available online.