Today on The Story Sanctuary, John Davidson, author of Bricks, is here to give us some behind-the-scenes information about the development of his thought-provoking debut novel.
What a great question. For BRICKS, I think it would be: When the pieces of your life are shattered, where do you begin to put them back together? I think the answer for me was family, but what if your family wasn’t who they said they were? All stories are about questions asked and (sometimes) answered.
Were there things about your favorite character which couldn’t be included in the novel?
I didn’t really put a lot about Slim’s mother in the book, but part of that was because not going into too much depth allowed for the greater unspoken sympathy for him. I watch my wife mother our kids, and I know what lengths she would go for them, so to have a mother that abandoned you. Nothing in life can shape and scar you as much as that.
Is there a scene or moment in your novel that really sticks with you? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I like the scene in Slim’s trailer where Cori realizes what all Slim has been going through, but I really enjoyed building the individual characters stories—helping them recover the things the storm stole from them. In the Wizard of Oz, a culminating scene reveals how the characters had what they’d gone looking for all along. But I wanted to give each of the characters their own scene where they fully appreciate what they lost—each of those scenes are the ones I had the most fun writing.
What do you most hope that readers take away from your novel?
That life is a journey. It’s not necessarily about building or rebuilding, it’s about something more basic, keeping on. It’s about depending on your family and learning that the truest way to feel better about yourself is to do as the Bible says in Philippians 2:3: Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
I recently read Torn Away by Jennifer Brown, also about the aftermath of a vicious tornado. Are you familiar with this story? If so, how is your novel similar or different? (Do you think Brown’s readers would also enjoy Bricks?)
Yes! I definitely think there are similarities. The biggest being the loss of family and how the idea of family doesn’t necessarily have to fit inside a preconceived notion. While Jersey, the MC in Jennifer’s book, physically loses part of her family in the storm, my MC—Cori, finds that the tornado reveals things that force her to redefine what she always thought family was. I do think they would enjoy it—hope they would, at least.
If you can share, can you tell us a little bit about a new project you’re working on?
I’ve just finished up a YA fantasy/fairy tale that falls somewhere between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Princess Bride about a princess whose parents divorce has broken true love’s bonds. As a result a divorce court curse is placed on their daughter. To replace what her parent’s broke, she must now find her own true love before she turns eighteen–only she’s pretty sure true love is just a fairy tale. It’s comedic absurdity—Monty Python or maybe even like Galavant.
I love writing, and I write a lot. My biggest problem is I love stories first and foremost which means I don’t really stick to any one genre. I love thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary and any mish-mash of sub-genres mostly in the middle-grade or young-adult age group. For now, I just plan to enjoy writing and let the rest of the stuff work itself out.
Is there an up-and-coming author you’re following with interest right now? Can you tell us about an author or novel you think deserves a greater spotlight?
I had been writing quite a bit of sci-fi, dystopian, post-apocalyptic stuff so I was reading several titles from those genres. One author that did a really nice job of matching style with setting was Mindy McGinnis. She has a new novel coming out soon—her third, so I’m interested to see if she uses the same style or varies it. I know my writing still is mostly all over the map, so I like to keep an eye on that.
Sixteen-year old Cori Reigns learns that not all tornadoes take you to magical places. Some take your house, your school, and life as you knew it. Struggling to put the pieces of her life back together, Cori learns to rebuild what the storm destroyed by trusting a family she didn’t know she had and by helping friends she never appreciated.
Read my review of Bricks by John Davidson here.