Monday, April 20, 2009

Tell Us More About...Spider

Here's how I build a character:

On the way to Mom's house last Spring for Easter, I was listening to my iPod while the rest of the family dozed. Enter song #1, "Spider and I" by Brian Eno.

"Spider and I sit watching the sky
On a world without sound
We knit a web to catch one tiny fly
For our world without sound
We sleep in the mornings
We dream of a ship that sails away
A thousand miles away."

I started thinking about spiders...real spiders. They're basically deaf, y'know. Then I flipped over to Belle and Sebastian, "The Boy Done Wrong Again".

"On Saturday I was an angel shining fair
You shone louder, longer
You put my shine to shame
Put me to shame now

What is it I must do to pay for all my crimes?
What is it I must do?
I would do it all the time
Do it all the time now"

Just a sampling of the lyrics, but I heard Jack's voice, thinking about what he'd done to help Spider survive. You see, Jack is a foster child--now wandering the world as an itinerant with Spider.

The final bit of Spider came from this place:


A company called Gilmore-Tatge used to build parts for grain augers in my home town. Now the factory is empty. You can see a small red #5 flag in the bottom left corner. The factory is adjacent to a park (we were playing there with Grandma and the boys). The old factory is a spooky relic...out of place in a small town. I asked myself, what if Spider lived there with Jack?

The first line of the story:

"[Spider and I] leaned on a window ledge in our abandoned factory home while the full moon lit the streets below like little silver-grey arteries."

This piece haunted me for a year before finding a publisher.

12 comments:

katey said...

No wonder he sounds so damn cool. We have some rundown warehouse-looking buildings like that in my home town, too (railroad used to run through, back when the coal mines were, er, open), and they're just amazing.

Gotta love finding the right song to make something come together, too. Nothing like it. Can't wait to see this one.

Natalie L. Sin said...

Kick. Ass. : )

Catherine J Gardner said...

Fantastic - thanks for letting us see a little more of Spider's inception.

Old abandoned buildings always intrigue me (as I think they do most writers).

Brendan P. Myers said...

Parts for grain augers?

I think that's what Gilmore-Tatge wanted you to believe . . .

Aaron Polson said...

Katey - sometimes I don't invite the ideas...they just come.

Natalie - hard.

Cate - we have a wonderful old pipe organ factory here in Lawrence. That is a spooky place, to be sure.

Brendan - I didn't know what the %@$#! a grain auger was as a kid.

Barry Napier said...

Always cool to see the origins of characters. Also, Brian Eno is god. In fact, his collaboration with Harold Budd is playing on my iTunes.

Carrie Harris said...

That first sentence is made of awesome.

Aaron Polson said...

Barry - agreed. Eno is my writing music.

Thanks Carrie. Awesome makes good building material...

Jamie Eyberg said...

It is amazing how each writer comes to realize their character and the stories themselves. I think there is a years worth of posts in this idea.

katey said...

sometimes I don't invite the ideas...they just come.That is exactly why I write! Well put!

Danielle Ferries said...

Usually a story comes to me first before the character but sometimes the character comes first and those the stories I love the most.

Aaron Polson said...

Jamie - I need all the posts I can find.

Katey - isn't it a little scary sometimes?

Danielle - I prefer to start with characters, too, but the plots usually hop up first and shout "use me!"