Johnny's Got a Problem
Change is always happening — there is no stopping the onslaught of time. I find it best to embrace it. Writing sometimes leaves me with a foot in two worlds — the present and the realm I am writing about. In the case of Rebel’s Edge, one foot is in the past, over thirty years ago. Working on a project based on true events is complicated. Memory is malleable and sometimes unreliable. A way to compensate the work is to be true to the characters without judgement that comes with age. The protagonist, Johnny, has no sense of the consequences of his actions, regardless of the chaos around him. This story of teenage rebellion is one I have wanted to tell since I started seriously writing. The first book, Suburbia, is complete, while the second, Punks, is over halfway there. Even with a story outline, there are always new discoveries, from character moments to scenes that were not planned.
Time has also brought a detachment from my past self. At times it feels like I am writing about a stranger, someone I once knew in an alternate reality. It is tricky writing about true things. Names are changed, some characters are composites of multiples, and events are sometimes out of order or fall in place a little differently than they may have happened. Throughout, I try to maintain Johnny’s point of view and be respectful to the other characters, no matter what they do — without judgment. Rebels Edge is true to the world of that time and is described realistically, yet the content is presented by inference. A good comparison would be between the movies Kids and That Was Then… This Is Now. The former is harsh and depressing and ended up being NC-17 due to its frank and graphic depictions and the latter is a melancholy adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s young adult novel. I chose the latter, wanting to recapture the feeling of the time. Adult themes and language are not the focus. My first wave of fiction books tackled those subjects head on, so a different route was needed. Descriptions are subtle at times with passages like “The orange glow is passed around.” and there is no explicit language of any sort. The style is of a first-person present-tense YA (Young Adult) novel. Will the final version be too adult for the category? I honestly don’t know. Rebel’s Edge is about real life events of teenage lives in a punk era of the 1980's, so I guess we’ll see when it’s done.
In the meantime, I will be diligently writing Rebel’s Edge. Later this year, I will shift gears for a fresh edit of my true crime / historic fiction manuscript to get it in shape for release. Dark Journey 1973 will be the first book of the second wave.