Sunday, August 24, 2014

Undercover With Sammy Keyes

Me, channeling Sammy, hiding in the bushes in "Santa Martina".
It was quite a weekend with the film guys, who flew in from Seattle to get footage for the documentary they're doing about Sammy Keyes and (more broadly) why books we read in our tween and teen years matter.

At first I didn't really get why they wanted to go to "Santa Martina" -- it's a fictional place, despite being inspired by a real city. I tried to explain that the Heavenly Hotel in the Sammy Keyes books doesn't look anything like the hotel it was inspired by. Nor does the Senior Highrise. Or the police station. Or any of the places Sammy frequents. I was sure the Docu-Dudes would be very disappointed.

But I was reminded this weekend that, just as characters we develop often spring from people we have crossed paths with in real life, so does setting. And setting can be very much like a character. It gives life to your story, and gives character to it as well. It doesn't have to be true to it's inspiration. It just has to help you create your story.

After I saw the crew was actually excited about the places I took them I began to relax about it. And in a funny way, it felt like we were Sammy and Friends, cruising the streets of Santa Martina, even hiding in the bushes.

So Sammy's world is "captured" now, as the Docu-Dudes like to say. And it was very interesting for me to get a new perspective on the old inspirations. It was also a little mind boggling to look around and realize that these ordinary locations are now familiar to readers around the world--something I never imagined when I wrote Hotel Thief.

The documentary will be about Sammy, but in a broader sense, it will also explore wider themes--about the importance of books and reading, about world-building and shaping your own world, about beginnings and endings (happy and otherwise). The team asked me some great questions and also interviewed a journalist who has covered my career for the past 14 years. They tell me he had a lot of really great things to say, which I'm curious to eventually see. And after witnessing the artistry of the videographer, I am starting to get the picture--these guys aren't messing around. I'm also starting to believe--this is going to be awesome!

The film will debut at the Sammy Keyes party on October 4th, and then their plan is to do the indie film circuit with it, submitting it as a "short". After that it'll probably be available online. You know you'll be the first ones to know!

One last little thought. While we were standing across the street from the "Heavenly" taking in how the hotel had been ruined by a fire, it hit me that Sammy had said in Hotel Thief that if she ever saw a fireball across the way, she'd know that Madame Nashira's cigarette and finally made contact with her hair (shellacked to unnatural heights, as is her style).

It gave me pause. And in a world gone meta, I can't help thinking that's exactly what happened.


Ari said...

And this is why you're my favorite author. <3

Kylie said...

It took me a while to find you in that picture.

After reading this it is getting me so excited about the documentary! I can't wait to see it. Whether through the indie films circuit or online, I shall find it!

I think the books I have read in my Tweens and teens were so important. They taught me so much and I am grateful for that.

Have a great week everyone!

Jessica said...

Wow, Mary looks like she's levitating over the bushes. For some reason it makes me think of the movie "La Dolce Vita." I've always wondered how Sammy was able to dive into bushes so often, too, because most of the bushes here are way too dense and don't have a lot of give, but those bushes look divable. (Also, what's a pepper tree? Because peppers grow on plants, not trees -- at least all the peppers I've seen growing -- but I've read about "pepper trees" in lots of California-set stories.)

It's so cool that it will be on the indie circuit. I hope they share the schedule with you so that you can share it with us (so we can go attend). And maybe they'll show it in Atlanta (I've heard we have film festivals here...)

*insert appropriate segue* Did you know that public libraries have hold limits? I've been requesting all the SK books to reread (since I can read one in a few hours, and it can take the library up to two weeks to send a single volume, and I want to read them in order, I requested them in batches). Yeah, I hit the hold limit (it's 15, by the way). But I just picked up 6 today, so I can go request the rest now.