Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Quickwrite: A Round Table Discussion with 2 of My Main Characters

Today's QuickWrite Prompt is courtesy of Jeannine Atkins.  They suggested we write as, to, or with our character today.  I ended up doing an interview with two of my main characters: Joey Tate from The Secret Order of Extraordinary Outcastz and Marlon Grunt from The Rude Awakening of Marlon Grunt.  Joey's story is complete, but still in revisions.  Marlon's story is still being written.  It seemed to work best if I let them both speak, and they kind of ended up interviewing each other.

Me:  Thanks for coming today.

Joey: No problem.  I like your laptop.

Me: Thanks.

Marlon: Yeah, I want to get one of those before I go to college.

Me: Is that where you see yourself going?  Got a particular school in mind?

Marlon: I want to go, I just don't know if there will be money.  I'd like to be in a music program.  I've been thinking about Illinois State. It's close, so I could live at home and stuff.  I'd love to go to Wesleyan, but there's no way that's happening.  Private school? Too expensive.

Me: Have you looked into scholarships?  I mean, didn't your dad work there?

Marlon: Yeah, he worked at ISU, not Wesleyan.  But he'd take me to Wesleyan all the time to hear their concerts.

Joey: Are you a singer?

Marlon: No, I play drums.

Joey: Cool!  I totally can't carry a tune, not even if you put it in a bucket for me.  I can't hold a beat either.  I'm musically challenged.

Me: Do you like to listen to music, Joey?

Joey:  I'm into it a little.  I like old musicals, showtunes and stuff.  But just for a few shows.  Like Grease.  And High School Musical.  And Chicago.  And Oklahoma. And Moulin Rouge.

Me:  I wanted to ask you both a few kind of personal questions, do you mind?

Joey:  Sure.

Marlon: I guess so.

Me: What, if you had to pick one, is the biggest regret you have?

Joey:  Do you mean, like, things you wish you could go back and do over?

Me: Yes.

Joey:  Ummm...that's kind of a tough question.  Can Marlon go first?

Marlon:  I'm ready.  It's pretty easy for me.  I wouldn't take those pills.

Joey:  You took pills?  Holy crap!  What kind of pills?

Marlon:  Some of my mom's meds for anxiety.  Might've been valium or something.  I'm okay, though. I'm just sorry that I put my family through that, you know? My grandma and Mom and Phoebe and Blue and everybody were scared I was going to die.  It really hurt them to think that I'd try to end it all.  Blue, especially.  She was pissed for a good long time after that. I never want to hurt her like that again.

Joey:  Why'd you do it?

Marlon:  Oh, you know..stuff.  It just all kind of builds up, and you don't feel like you have any control over anything that's going on, people are crappy to you, shi- stuff doesn't go your way, you don't feel like anyone can help you out because they all have their own crap to deal with...until finally, one day, a really, REALLY bad day comes along and it just sends you off the edge.  You feel like you'd be better off not even here.

Joey:  You don't still feel like that, do you? 'Cause I don't know you that well, but I already think you're pretty cool.  You're cute. You're a drummer. You're funny...

Marlon: Naw, no it's better now.  I - uh - I had some help figuring out that it was a pretty stupid move.  And I know it was stupid.  I learned a lot, so I guess I just regret not finding a better way to learn all that stuff about myself or talking to somebody earlier, you know?  You think I'm cute?

Joey: (blushing) Well, yeah. You're cute. Don't let it go to your head, though.  Geez.

Marlon:  That's sweet.  You're what, like...twelve?

Joey: Thirteen, Drummer Boy.  Get over yourself.

Marlon:  Sorry, it's just that I'm seventeen and taken.

Joey:  Well, I'm taken, too.  So...like I said, get over yourself.  I didn't ask you to prom or anything. God!

Me:  You're taken?

Joey: (blushing again) Umm...sort of.  I kind of have a sort of boyfriend.  We're not completely boyfriend/girlfriend.  It's complicated.

Marlon: You're thirteen, how complicated could it be?

Joey:  (rolling eyes) Yeah, okay.  Whatever.  You're, of course, the expert because you're in high school and the rest of us babies can't POSSIBLY understand, right?  You're SO old at seventeen that you can't even remember what it was like to be thirteen?

Marlon:  Sorry, I didn't mean it that way.

Joey: Yeah, you did, but I'll overlook it.

Marlon: You still haven't answered the regret question.

Joey:  Okay, okay.  I got this.  I guess if I had to go back and change something, I wouldn't have been so down on myself all the time.  And I would've kept up with my homework rather than let it get so out of control.  I felt like I wasted a bunch of time being this awful, pitiful version of me.

Marlon:  You're not pitiful.  I think you're funny.  And smart.  And not afraid to speak up for yourself.  What did you have to be down on yourself for?  The homework thing I totally get, though.

Joey:  I know, right? But I was pretty pathetic.  I was one big pity party for, like, six months or something.  Although, if it hadn't been like that, then I never would have met my friends.  So, I guess I regret that it took so long to happen, but I'm not unhappy that it did.

Me:  Next question.  Who has had the biggest impact on who you are today?

Marlon: Jesus, that's a tough one.  Can I only pick one?

Me:  You can answer however you want.

Joey:  That's easy for me.  My mom.  She's always finding ways for us to do extra stuff and she always is really supportive.  She wants me and Gordo to be who we really are, not somebody else's version of what we SHOULD be.  I mean, Gordo is never going to be normal, he's too smart.  She accepts that he has to have his operation to run, and she accepts that I have to draw comics.

Marlon:  Gordo's your brother?

Joey: Yep. He's eleven.

Marlon:  And he runs an...operation?  What do you mean?

Joey:  It's kind of like this company of little kids that he runs to get rid of bullies and help kids out.

Marlon:  That's crazy.  In a good way.  Hey, you draw comics?

Joey:  Yeah.  I like to copy the greats like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Neal Adams.  I like Manga, too. But I write my own, too.  It's called The Secret Order of Extraordinary Outcastz.

Marlon:  That's cool.  Well, I guess if I had to narrow it down, the most influential people in my life would be: My dad, Big John Secor, my girlfriend - Blue Bennet, my little sister - Phoebe, and Tre Cool.

Joey:  That's a huge list. You couldn't narrow it down?  And your mom or grandma's not on there.  And everybody has such bizarre names...Blue? Big John? Tre Cool?  Are they all musicians or something?

Marlon:  You're a girl named Joey, and you're making fun of someone else's name?

Joey:  Fair point.  I'm just sayin'.

Marlon:  Anyways, no, they're not all musicians.  Tre Cool is though. He's the drummer for Green Day.

Joey:  Green Day...Green Day...nope.  I got nothin'.

Marlon:  What!? Jesus, kids these days...you have so much to learn, young padawan.

Joey:  Are you done?

Marlon:  Yeah.  Green Day is the best band that ever walked the earth.  And Tre Cool is their drummer.  His is a god.

Joey:  Oookay.  And he personally influenced you how?

Marlon: Aside from being a drumming god, he also was my spiritual advisor.  Sort of.  Well, he was in spirit form when he advised me.

Joey:  So, he's a dead god of drumming?

Marlon:  Nope. No, he's alive and well.  Still drumming.

Joey: I'm confused.

Marlon:  It's okay.  I don't really understand it either.  Anyway, my dad is sort of the person that I always measure myself against. I'm always stopping and asking myself what he would want me to do.  Unfortunately, he doesn't give me advice from the grave.

Joey:  Wait, does that mean your dad IS dead?

Marlon:  Yeah.

Joey:  God, I'm really sorry, Marlon.  That sucks.  A lot.

Marlon:  Yeah.

Joey:  But wait, so you get advice from the spirit world from a guy who ISN'T dead, and DON'T get advice from the spirit world from your dad, who IS dead?

Marlon: Yeah. Don't try too hard to understand it.  It makes MY brain hurt just to think about it too long.

Joey: So, what about the others?  Are any of them ghosts?

Marlon:  No.  Blue is my best friend and girlfriend.  She has been since I was twelve.  Well, she was my best friend since I was twelve.  The girlfriend thing happened later.

Joey:  How sweet!  I'll bet she's really nice. And cool.

Marlon:  You'd like her.  She's totally into anime.

Joey:  Awesome!

Marlon:  And you'd probably like my baby sister, Phoebe, too.  Everybody does.  She changed everything for me.  I'd take a bullet for her.

Joey:  Awww...that's so sweet! How old is she?

Marlon:  Five.  She's my half-sister, but she's just the cutest kid.  So spunky and smart.  You kind of remind me of her.

Joey:  Thanks!  What about Big John?

Marlon:  Yeah, he's just this guy who took me in and made sure I had what I needed after my dad died. He didn't know me from Adam, and he just opened up the door to his life and said, "Come on in."  You can't buy that sort of kindness, you know?

Joey:  He sounds awesome.  I wish my dad was like your dad or Big John.  He's not all bad, but he kind of left us behind when my parents got a divorce.

Marlon:  Keep at him.  You can't replace people.  Even if he's kind of a d-bag sometimes, he's still your dad.

Joey:  I guess.

Me:  I'm sorry guys, we have to wrap this up.  We went way over our allotted time.  Maybe we can pick up this conversation later in private?

Joey:  Yeah, that'd be fun.

Marlon:  Sure, yeah.  I could swing that.

Me:  Thanks.

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