What inspired Poison Ink?
I honestly don't remember the whole sequence of how the idea came together, but I know it was prompted by the story of how the nine members of the "fellowship" in the Lord of the Rings movies all got the same tattoo as a way to commemorate their shared experience. At a certain age, you feel the passion of friendship so much more powerfully than you do when you get older. Or, perhaps I should say, it is far rarer to feel that powerful kinship as you get older. You're not as open and intimate with friends. In STAND BY ME (based on Stephen King's novella "The Body"), the narrator types: "I never had any friends later on like I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?" I'd stretch that out to include high school, and sometimes, if you're lucky, college. POISON INK is about that kind of friendship, and the pain of what happens when it goes wrong, and what you'd be willing to do to save it.
The main cast of Poison Ink is made up of five teen girls. Each girl has her own personality and appearance. I was very glad to see the mix of ethnicities and attitudes.
In college, I had a group of friends who were all very different from one another. Different races, genders, backgrounds. We were the Island of Misfit Toys, really, but we found each other and realized that our individuality was also what we had in common. The same is true of the girls in POISON INK.
Which character was the easiest to create? The hardest?
Sammi came easiest to me. As the central character, she's my voice. She reminds me in many ways of Jenna Blake, from my BODY OF EVIDENCE series, though a lot more laid back. The most difficult to create was TQ. She's fairly complex because she's so ordinary. That sounds like nonsense, but it's true. Her life becomes very complicated, and yet it's all seen through Sammi's eyes, so I couldn't get very deeply into TQ. I had to try to communicate her situation while only showing certain facets of it.
How do you get in their minds?
Ha. This always comes up. For some reason, I find it easy to slip into the mindset of a teenage girl. That doesn't mean I squeal when the Jonas Brothers come on TV. But I've always gotten along better with women than with men. As a kid, and even as an adult, that's held true. My parents were divorced when I was young and I was raised by my mother. Even before the divorce, my father wasn't around much, and so when my mother wasn't there I spent most of my time with my sister and her friends. My wife and I have a good friend who recently turned twenty, so she's been a touchstone for me where the strange brains of teenage girls are concerned for years. Now my eldest son is a teenager, and I talk to his friends. I also run the Drama Club at the school my kids attend, and direct plays there, so the behavior of junior high kids is on display. And, honestly, I remember my own high school years very well.
Would you ever get a tattoo?
For a while I thought about it. I wanted the Comedy/Tragedy masks. But I just didn't care enough and now, at 40, I've lost interest. My brother has three and my sister used to have one but has had it removed. It probably helps that I'm not a big drinker. Heh.
I think this book is going to want to make kids NOT want to get tattoos. Mwah ha ha!
Tattoos are a choice. But I do think it's a good idea to prevent kids from getting them. Until you reach a certain age it's hard to imagine what "permanent" means. As for adults, sure! I'm not a fan of the "tramp stamp," but people should be free to express themselves.
Though you have written teen fiction before, such the Body of Evidence series and the Prowlers sequence, in recent years, you've been focusing on dark fantasy/horror for adults again. Did you set out for Poison Ink and Soulless to be for teens?
POISON INK and SOULLESS are part of a very purposeful return to teen fiction for me. I'm still writing adult fiction, of course. All kinds of things. But I missed writing for teens. The drama and the vitality and how deeply we feel everything as teenagers has always appealed to me. Plus, teenagers are such a great audience, with great bull$&@^ detectors. They like what they like, and they'll tell you, and they're passionate, and they KNOW, absolutely 100%, if you're doing it because you're interested in them, and in telling them stories, or if you're just trying your hand at writing for teens because it's "trendy." I've been writing for teens nearly as long as I've been writing for adults.
I don't want to spoil the ending of Poison Ink, but I will ask as to the possibility of a sequel...
No plans for one, but you never know. I love the cast of this book, so we'll see.
Poison Ink by Christopher Golden will be available tomorrow, Tuesday, July 8th.
Drop by Bildungsroman next Monday for yet another installment of our serial interview!