My All Star Team Of Characters
Hi, Chris Grabenstein here.
Writers have a lot of strange rituals. Sharpening pencils -- over and over. Putting together iPod playlists to write to. Burning incense. Eating Cheetos. Eating M&Ms. Eating everything in the refrigerator.
Me? Well, when I get done writing my 2,000 words every day, I give myself a treat: I play one game of NCAA 2012 Football on my Playstation 3. For the guys out there, I play Dynasty Mode. You know what I'm talking about. Boo-yah.
My cat Parker likes watching the little men running around the screen so much, he usually comes into my office the minute he hears the guy say "E-A Sports. It's in the game!"
I'm not sure if Parker is into football or just flashing, moving things. The game screen probably looks like a jumble of giant laser pointers to him.
These days, my team is Stanford. I didn't go to school there (I'm not that smart). I just like the fact that, at Stanford, every time a player does something good, like score a touchdown, he gets a sticker on his helmet. Hey, who doesn't like getting gold stars for a job well done? We're all really first graders at heart.
Also, I named my coach Stan Ford. (Yes, it takes very little to amuse me after writing 2000 words).
One of the fun things I do when playing my daily game of football is name the players after characters I'm working with in books. For me, it's a way to give those characters a life outside the confines of their stories. But, I always try to keep my guys in character when they play football.
For instance, Riley Mack, the uncommonly clever star of my upcoming HarperCollins title RILEY MACK AND THE OTHER KNOWN TROUBLEMAKERS has to play quarterback.
The guy is a natural born leader. In the book, he heads up a "Mission Impossible" type team of 12 year old troublemakers who right wrongs and defend the weak. He's sort of a new Robin Hood. His buddy, Hubert Montgomery, who everybody calls "Mongo" is a seventh grade so huge he looks like he has seven other seventh graders stuffed inside him. Mongo plays middle linebacker. Or Defensive Tackle.
Their new fifth grader friend Jamal Wilson is a flashy running back. Jamal is a bit of a showboat in the book and on the field. But, like they say, it's not bragging if you can do it. Jamal has already won the Heisman Trophy three times, including when he was a Freshman, which, in the real world, has never, ever happened.
The hero of my Haunted Mystery series, Zack Jennings, is still a bit of a loner when he grows up and goes to Stanford. So he plays wide receiver. Last week, he set a new record for passes caught and touchdowns scored. His pal, the super intelligent brainiac Malik Sherman, is a cagey cornerback and leads the league in interceptions.
Sometimes, the characters from my adult mysteries show up on the roster. John Ceepak likes to play for Army. Danny Boyle for Notre Dame.
But, usually, it just me and the guys from my middle grades books.
Writers need diversions that don't involve food, I guess.
And the characters? Well, they need to hop off the page from time to time and just play.
And, it's amazing how much more vividly alive the characters become in your head after you've won the BCS National Championship together.