Archive for the ‘Influences and Inspirations’ Category

Part I: The Heiress (Gluttony)

The second deadly sin is “gluttony.” I initially thought of having a model as the protagonist. I considered having a male model as the protagonist too. Eating disorders came into the picture — but then I took a step back, and remembered the theme/concept I initially had in mind for this entire Sins07 “seven deadly sins” series.

gluttony

“Gluttony” by Julie Morstad

–> Image from Julie Morstad / Tiny Showcase

Right from the start, I’d always wanted an element of fun and light-heartedness throughout the books (“light-hearted” in the “cheerfully optimistic and hopeful” sense — not in a completely carefree, frivolous sense). The whole aspect of eating disorders just wasn’t right, with regards to the concept/vision for the series. I watched almost all the episodes of What’s Eating You? on E! Online (I love that channel — that, and A&E). I know a few people in real life who have suffered or are currently suffering from some kind of eating disorder. There is nothing fun about eating disorders. Most of the time, it is something very miserable, demoralizing, and anxiety-inducing. While I can understand the inner turmoil and the seriousness of eating disorders, I just didn’t feel that it’d be a good fit for this YA series I am currently working on.

My “Plan B” (if I wasn’t going to cast a model as the protagonist) was to feature an “heiress” (which immediately brought to mind: Paris Hilton!). The character could still do some modeling on the side, but she would have more money, power, and control, than a super-thin model working for a modeling agency / in the fashion industry. It would also allow for more interesting possibilities and various plot twists, than if I’d gone the modeling/staying skinny/eating disorders route.

I have always believed in providing/creating the changes I would like to see in real life (instead of whining and griping about “things I don’t like”). The heiress can have friends who are models, or who suffer from quite-severe eating disorders (to up the book’s “relevance”)…but this would not be a “defining trait” of the protagonist herself. If it was (which would be the case, if she were a model who binged and purged on a consistent basis in order to “eat all she wanted” but “still remain thin”)…I would have to compromise a lot of the “fun” element in the plot.

One thing remains the same: the focus on wastage. I believe that is the sinful aspect of gluttony — the actual wastage of food and consumption of too much, when others are literally dying because they don’t have enough.

Part II: Gender Balance

I think the third book will feature a lead male protagonist. To even things out, maybe I’ll have 3 females and 3 males (from Book01 to Book06), and a girl and guy for Book07 (I’m very “diplomatic” that way). I think I was thinking of a bisexual best friend for the lead male in Book03 (Sloth) too — though the protagonist is likely to be more heterosexual than heteroflexible. But I thought it’d be more interesting if his best friend were bi/gay/sexually ambiguous.

It might go along these lines (with regards to the gender of the protagonists):

Book01 (Lust) — The Intern / Suzie Q (17, Female)
Book02 (Gluttony) — The Heiress / Female
Book03 (Sloth) — The (Gamer; tentative) / Male
Book04 (Envy) — Female
Book05 (Greed) — Male (something to do with banking/finance, presumably)
Book06 (Anger) — Male
Book07 (Pride) — Male & Female

One of the reasons I like love Vladimir Nabokov’s works so much is the attention he gives to “the details,” such as the names of characters. Now while I’m not making any comparisons between 1: The Intern (first book in the SINS07 series) and Lolita, I did spend some time tweaking the names of characters and places (as I always do with all of my writing material — if the names aren’t right, nothing is).

1. SUZIE Q (Intern #1)

Yep, directly as a result of listening to “Suzy Q” on repeat — I like the song, I like the beat, I like the guitar licks. I just wanted the girl’s name to be musically/lyrically linked to a rock-n-roll song :) [it'll make more sense once you link the lyrics to the first page in the book].

2. CHESTER TAYLOR ADAMSKI (Intern #2)

Because I was playing around with his name being “Chester T., and his nickname being “Chas-ti-ty” (he’s referred to as “Chester” mostly, throughout the book), since the theme/concept of Book 1 in the SINS07 seven deadly sins series is “lust” after all.

I changed his name to Chester Evans (based on feedback that the last name “Adamski” was “too weird”), then I changed it back again. I thought it sounded more interesting / better suited the character (no offense to any “Chester Evanses” out there).

3. JO.ZEE (21 year old dance instructor/choreographer)

A.K.A. “Josh/Joshua Zee” — I thought adding the dot in the name was a contemporary touch, like Will.i.am and Linkin Park’s song, Figure.09. Probably subconsciously influenced by a dance student I knew, whose name incidentally, was Joshua. Damn, he was really hot.

4. FUNKY FUNKY (night club)


– Image from Atlanta Exchange.

A dance battle takes place at a club called Funky², in the book (the club is first mentioned in Chapter 2, when the interns are on their way to their hotel). There’s a real club in Seoul called Club Funky Funky (a small club which combines a live band with a DJ who plays anything from rock and funk to hip-hop).

5. TRESOR ACADEMY (Hairdressing Academy)


– Image from Toni & Guy HK.

Trésor means “treasure” in French (mentioned in the book too). This is really a fictitious version of the Toni & Guy Academy, which I practically visited on a monthly basis during my late teen years. They were/are really good.

6. ROXETH (Setting / City)

City Nightscape
– Photo by MARKNKL.

Roxeth is actually a real place (in the UK / 5 seconds’ research on Google will tell you where exactly). I liked the sound of the name (something cool, and a little bit edgy). The cities in my writing projects tend to be generic/fictitious cities, instead of the actual names of the real places. I feel there’s more room for variation/reader interpretation, that way.

P.S. I grew up in Singapore (the picture above), so every urban city is always going to have an element of “familiarity” to me, heh.

7. LYSISTRATA MUSEUM (Site of Internship)

I had to always check the spelling of “Lysistrata” at first. It’s a play written by Aristophanes.

* Side Note: The whole idea of the museum internship was influenced by some blog posts I read by a museum intern.

The dedication in 1: The Intern reads:

“For dance enthusiasts everywhere, Rain, and Def Dance.”

In no particular order, here is a list of people/artistes who directly influenced and inspired some of the material in the first book of the SINS07 series, 1: The Intern (the dance portions/sequences, specifically!). The YouTube videos showcased are worth checking out not once, not twice, but multiple times.

I’ve included short excerpts from the book, when suitable.

1. MICHAEL JACKSON (R.I.P. King of Pop)

Everybody in hip hop/pop music right now has in one way or another, been influenced by Michael Jackson. This is just one of the most awesome-tastic videos of all time.

2. BI RAIN (Korean Pop Star)

Rainism was the first dance which I absolutely *had* to learn how to do (here is a YouTube link to my solo Rainism attempt). The start of the superliciously hot video features males pole dancing (Bi Rain’s, not mine!).

3. BEYONCE (one of the most talented + hardest working R&B professionals in the industry)

Excerpt from 1:The Intern, Chapter 4:

“You’re a Beyoncé fan?” Jo.Zee’s tall enough to be holding onto one of the handrails. “I saw Monika showing you that move with the hand.”
I feel like I need to lean my whole body against the pole. It might help me feel more steady on my feet.

“I like her songs,” I reply. I hope I looked all right when he was watching.

“She does all her choreography in heels, too.”

4. DEF DANCE (Korea)

Def Dance is the #1 dance school in Korea.

5. HIP HOP DANCE BATTLE (UK)

Chapter 14 in 1: The Intern features a hip hop dance battle.

6. BHANGRA EMPIRE / Bhangra is a folk dance from Northwest India (Punjab)

Excerpt from 1:The Intern, Chapter 2:

Four people are hanging around outside a music club called Funky² (so says the neon signboard). If I’m not wrong, the DJ booth is right at the entrance. I take a quick look…one of them is doing a vibrant mix of folk and hip hop type moves on the street!

7. SHAKIRA (Colombia)

Chapter 3 of the book is titled “Hips Don’t Lie” ;).

8. 2NE1 / Hip Hop Korean Girl Group (Korea)

Chapter 14 (the dance battle chapter) is titled “Fire.” Very catchy song, especially if you like electronica/dance music.

9. THE RUSSIAN TIGER (USA)

“Dancers aren’t born, they evolve.” — very inspiring videos + tutorials from this dude.

10. DAFT PUNK / Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (France)

* An insane video (by King Julian from France) to a song by the excellent French electronic music duo, Daft Punk (here is a YouTube link to my solo Daft Punk Body attempt).

Excerpt from 1:The Intern, Chapter 3:

I guess my random prancing about in the privacy of my own room has served me well. I’m gonna go on a mission to thank all the people who uploaded their videos onto YouTube. How else would I have learned what I already know?

11. SE7EN / Korean Pop Star

One of the best videos of guys dancing. Beautiful choreography (by 26 year-old choreographer, Shaun Evaristo).