Tuesday, October 4, 2011
MASKS Commentary Track: Chapter 10
Oh, Trevor. You and your angst.
I dimly recall this chapter appearing on my outline as a card that just read “ANGST” in capital letters. I’ll admit, it was originally included only so I could keep up the point-of-view alternation between Rae’s perspective on the martial-arts lesson (which didn’t really work from her instructor’s point of view) and her perspective on the run-in with Tammy and Soleil (which Trevor couldn’t narrate because he wasn’t there). But it was an interesting exercise to dig into Trevor’s head for a whole chapter.
Of course, he has to dig into his supplies, too. That was a fun list to compile—combining elements from a survivalist’s BOB (bug-out bag) with elements of a superhero’s kit. I drew on a little personal experience, too; I keep a version of this kit in the trunk of my car most of the time, with a change of clothes in a duffel bag, a small first-aid kit, a utility knife, water bottles, and some non-perishable food. (There’s often a camping lantern and a sleeping bag in there, too.) I put the kit together originally as a survival pack in case of an earthquake. The Red Cross encourages most people in California to carry a kit like this, but almost nobody does it. I’m also the only person I know who always has jumper cables, so perhaps I’m just unusually prepared. Anyway, it was fun trying to condense my kit, which is contained in a hefty duffel bag, into something a boy Trevor’s size could easily carry in a backpack. Especially since about half the space would have to be taken up by Jude’s jacket, because Trevor is not leaving that behind. Pay attention to that jacket, by the way—it’ll be important later.
Random factoid—I’ve had several people ask me why Trevor calls his adoptive father the “Billy Goat Avenger.” This came out of my research on the culture and history of Chicago in preparation for this serial. I did some background on Jude, and his social class and the neighborhood in which he lives make him likely to be a fan of the Chicago White Sox, the city’s American League baseball team. However, I had a sentimental attraction to the Chicago Cubs, the town’s National League team and the bitter crosstown rivals of the Sox. I created Jude in high school, and randomly decided that his costume jacket would reverse to show the Cubs logo, because I had forgotten at the time that Chicago had more than one baseball team. I was particularly amused by the “Curse of the Billy Goat,” a superstition among Cubs fans that the team will never win a World Series until they somehow dispel a curse laid on the team by a tavern owner who wasn’t allowed to keep his billy goat with him in the stands. The phrase “Billy Goat Avenger” stuck to Jude immediately, and I was a little disappointed when I did more research and realized that he made much more sense as a Sox fan. I finally decided that he was the sort of guy who would go so far in defense of his secret identity that he’d add an extra layer of deception and wear the colors of the hated Cubs.
All this for a billy goat. I really do have too much fun at this job.
As for the rest of it, all I’ll say is that every possibility Trevor pores over in this chapter—that Jude is dead, that his quarry is a student, that a superhero kidnapped Jude—will come up at some point in this book, or future books if I get them. *Grin.*
This chapter’s soundtrack is a song I often use when I’m trying to get into the mood to write Trevor as he is in the first half of the book—brilliant and dangerous, but also wounded and more than a little lost in the larger world. Trevor’s arc is very much about deciding who he will be for the rest of his life, choosing which of the rules in his head he’ll listen to and deciding to really think about what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. And so, of course, I listen to a song about people who don’t think. The first time I heard the lyric, “And I don’t know where I’m going/And I don’t know who I’ll ruin”, I thought of Trevor and where his story goes. (The parts about “a long way from home”, “burning my connections”, and “calling strangers honey” all seemed to fit, too, and may be more obvious right now.) I give you “Sleepwalker,” by the Boston band Jim’s Big Ego!
I couldn’t embed the song, unfortunately—so I'm linking to the whole album. Keep hitting the shuffle button until “Sleepwalker” comes up. I actually LIKE the whole album, though, so you might not find it such a loss … oh, and if you sign up for the band’s mailing list on their website, you can download “Sleepwalker” for free. Don’t say I never gave you anything.