I'm happy to be part of the Highly Illogical Behavior Blog Tour and am excited to welcome Printz Winner and National Book Award finalist John Corey Whaley to the blog as a guest poster. He's writing about his main inspirations as a writer and how they contributed to Highly Illogical Behavior:
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Guest Post by John Corey Whaley, author of Highly Illogical Behavior
I think about inspiration a lot, actually. I think about it when I’m not inspired or when I am. And I often talk about it with other artists—whether they are painters or musicians. What I’ve learned about inspiration is that it’s much more about the time and place in your life when you’re exposed to something than it is anything else, at least that’s the case for me.
I’ve written a lot in the past about how inspired I was when I read both The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of being a Wallflower as a teenager. These books introduced an idea to me, really—the idea that maybe I could write something that would speak to someone like these books had spoken to me. There’s a combination of skill, manipulation, and magic when it comes to writing a story that can really connect to a reader on a personal level. And that’s what I always go for in my writing: to tell a story that, no matter what or who it’s about, taps into some universal understanding in my readers.
In terms of my one or two biggest inspirations as a writer, I think they go beyond other works I’ve read and fit more into the overall category of Existing. I write to stay sane and to understand the world—so my greatest inspiration, in the weirdest way possible, is the frustration and pain I feel from the very confusing world around us. And I used to be scared of that, I think. I was scared it made me a pessimist. But, I think it’s the opposite, actually. I think my way of coping with the world is to dissect it and find the common, personal things that connect us to one another. Once I find those, whether it’s through a story about a missing kid, a body transplant, or an agoraphobic, the process starts to more clearly define itself and the story starts to take a more permanent shape, both in my head and on the page. What I hope is that these stories explore enough of the human condition, through darkness or absurdity or both, to tap into the same emotions in my readers that I’m trying to understand in myself. Which, to my understanding, is the whole point of fiction in the first place. I want to entertain, sure, but I also want my readers to think about more than just the story when they put the book down. And that is asking a lot, and therefore takes a lot of time and hard work to earn. And a very good editor.
So, fear of the world inspires me. Haha. What else? Hmm…I think I’d have to go with my partner-in-crime, Scott. I set Highly Illogical Behavior in my boyfriend Scott’s hometown of Upland, California, and there’s more than a few similarities between Solomon’s home and his too. There are also some not-so-secret aspects of Clark’s personality that were heavily inspired by Scott. The thing is, I get to share my life with the most kind, empathetic person I’ve ever met. Patient to a fault sometimes, and always honest, sincere, and thoughtful. Not to mention hilarious and super fun. And it’s inspiring to be around that kind of person every day. How could it not be? Highly Illogical Behavior was very much written for him, and for many more reasons than just the few above. This is, after all, my first book that focuses on a gay character, and in having Scott in my life, it was even more important to me that I portray that character with honesty and nuance.