Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wax by Phil Duncan


Yancey Muncey is dead. Or, he was. Raised from the grave by the shadowy figure of Dr. Blankenship, Yancey is now back in high school, hanging out with his best friend, and working up the nerve to ask the girl of his dreams to the upcoming Halloween carnival.

But not everything is the same as it was before: Yancey’s eyes are yellow, his skin is blue, and he’s indestructible. As if that weren’t bad enough, Dr. Blankenship has made it his life’s mission to hunt Yancey down. Because the only reason Yancey is alive again is to help the good doctor destroy his rival.

An average boy with a new lease on an extraordinary life, Yancey must battle high-trained security and high school bullies in his quest to get back to normal. What’s the worst that can happen after all? He’s already dead.

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From the Strangest Places
by Phil Duncan

Let’s begin with a quick hypothetical:

Propelled by a dangerous nosey streak that often lands him in trouble, a man logs onto his girlfriend’s browser and begins casually perusing her Internet history. To his dismay, he finds bytes upon bytes of information on serial killers, the war crimes of the Peloponnesian war, and instructions for assembling a nineteenth century blunderbuss. His eyes glaze over, snot pools on his trembling upper lip, as he reads on: sustainable unicorn ranching techniques, the mating rituals of banana slugs, the pH ratio of Coca Cola. Finally, he reaches for the phone to alert the authorities when he stumbles upon a website, unapologetically entitled How to Murder Your Boyfriend in Seven Easy Steps. As he is just about to dial 9-1-1, the door of the office swings open and his girlfriend enters the room.

Though this sounds like the opening to a perfectly mediocre true crime tale, the girlfriend is far from being a felon-in-waiting or prime candidate for a straightjacket. The more likely explanation is that she is a writer; and her boyfriend just learned the consequences of snooping around in the typical schizophrenic browsing history of one who sets pen to paper. As writers, we find inspiration in just about everything -- which is why we’re often taken aback when asked by someone “so what inspired this book?” The answer is never easy, as we pull inspiration from our daily lives, our research, and from other books, films, and media. While my novel Wax is a very loose remix of Shelly’s Frankenstein, there are flecks of everything from Franny and Zooey to the “The Simpsons” to the regenerative capabilities of octopi found within its pages.

Inspiration strikes from the strangest places and it is the job of a writer to always be open to it, whether watching a French film from the ‘60s, reading a comic book, or – yes -- logging into online murderer message boards. No matter what genre or form her writing takes, the successful writer should never narrow her interests in regards to what inspires her research and, ultimately, her creative output. The more encompassing the radar, the more information the writer will receive. She may never process but a fraction of this information -- but that one character note, that one scene description, that one piece of detailed minutiae -- may be the element that ultimately determines the success of the piece.

So dirty up that browser history, but for your nosey partner’s peace of mind, consider cleaning it up once in awhile.

About the author:

Phil Duncan is the author of Wax, a young-adult novel published by RainTown Press, as well as of various short fiction published both in print and online.

Phil is a graduate of Goddard College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and the University of Washington’s English program. He is a former Jacob K. Javits Fellow and recently served as a Creator-in-Residence at the Tokyo Wonder Site-Aoyama in Tokyo, Japan. He currently lives in Portland, OR.

Connect with Phil: Goodreads * Twitter * Website

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Note: All opinions presented in book and product reviews are my own. Opinions presented in posts authored by others reflect the view of the author only and not necessarily my view or opinion.