I’m late to the Games, but consumed with Hunger. Holy mama, those Hunger Games books are smokin’ page turners!
But first the backstory on why I’m so late to the Games.
My sister is a literary-type reader. She’s been a tough beta-reader for my Lei Crime Series but she’s hung in there with Lei through car chases, house fires, bar fights, human bites, cult rituals and kidnappings—always being clear this isn’t her genre. Her critique is so good I make her suffer through my drafts. It’s been a bit of work for both of us, but it’s been worth it.
Last week she called me, super excited about a book (which doesn’t happen often.) “Toby, you HAVE to read the Hunger Games! It reminds me so much of your writing—fast paced, suspenseful and without any extra words!” (Gee—this is sounding like a compliment. I perk up visibly. I’ll do anything for one of her compliments.) “You could write this kind of book without even breaking a sweat!”
And now to why I haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ epic trilogy, or even seen the movie. If it’s trendy, I’m not interested.
Shades of Grey? Nope, not reading (especially for 9.99! The nerve!)
The Help? Nope.
Game of Thrones? Nope.
In fact, if people are buzzing about it, I’m not interested. I have the same attitude toward celebrities. I’m rebellious that way. I want to be hard to get, an original. It must be left over from growing up hippie.
So I hedged. “Isn’t it YA?”
“Yeah, but I’m telling you, pare a few details off the violence level in your books and they could be cousins. Seriously.”
I’m intrigued by her enthusiasm. She dropped off her dog-eared copy of Hunger Games and reported she was buying the next one. The book sat on my dining room table like an accusation—I was about to cave and read what was POPULAR, and YA too. Ewgh. Almost as bad as picking up a Harry Potter or a Twilight book, which I won’t/haven’t read either.
(Oh, and once again I was reminded why I like a hard copy of a book. It’s awesome to pass on a book, with its docked corners and underlines, with the sand between the pages that shows where it’s been.)
TV was bad enough last night that I went to bed at 9:00 p.m. with the Hunger Games and a lingering attitude that lasted two whole pages.
At 1:00 a.m, with a racing heart and tear tracks on my face (I wish I were kidding, but that scene where she replaces her sister— OMG!) finally had to stop reading because I didn’t want it to be over with too quickly. I lay in bed thinking about what my sister said, wondering what it would be like to write a suspenseful fantasy instead of the police procedurals I’d thus far been churning out.
I eventually fell asleep, and I dreamed up Games. (This is why I have to stay away from Stephen King’s writing. It scares me all the way to my dreams. Also, he’s unforgiveably popular)
There an elaborate plot in my dream, with multiple contestants. I eventually woke myself up, disturbed by decapitating a fellow contestant, a scantily-clad woman in a bikini, with a shovel.
Which had made perfect sense at the time.
I do some dream analysis in my practice, and in Jungian dreamwork, all the characters in a dream are aspects of self. I’ve always also believed that the most powerful stories pre-exist in the collective unconscious of humanity, and they are unearthed and revealed rather than invented, by a writer who taps into that theme.
Decapitation with a shovel? What’s the message there, from Terminator me to (scantily clad) me?
Don’t dig too deep, don’t think too hard. Just do what needs doing. (I like the touch of literalness there, it tickles my funnybone. My brain, she works like that pretty often)
The Hunger Games stories are tapping into something universal for our current culture with its apocalyptic zombie fears, bloodthirsty appetites, and dog-eat-dog interpretation of right and wrong. A televised survival game to the death isn’t that far removed in our collective imagination from all those Tribal Councils on remote atolls with Jeff Probst “tallying the votes” and snuffing torches.
So while watering my garden, going surfing with my husband, eating breakfast out…all I can think about is getting back to that book. When I’m this energized, a new direction is stirring—and it could well involve bikinis and shovels.