Another entry from Jo Sullivan's journal
The 36 point headlines are the ones that stand out, the stories that sell the daily papers and capture the attention of Chicago newspapers. But it’s the throwaway paragraphs found hidden in the back pages that draw my attention again and again.
“Teen Picked Up For Prostitution.” “56 Bed Shelter Closed Down.” “Homeless Kid Keeps Pet Rat.”
Throwaway stories. Throwaway people.
Newspapers do print good news sometimes. “Aid Worker Helps Get Dancer Back on His Feet.” “Homeless Youth Given a Sign of Hope.” “Northside Center Gets A Facelift.” My desk is littered with research like that. There are over thirty shelters listed in a resource book put out by Emmaus Ministries in Uptown, ten of them for youth. Maybe I should write a story about each of them.
A homeless shelter reviewing system if you will, like they do for hotels and motels. Why shouldn’t homeless people know ahead of time what they’re getting into when they seek lodging?
Another entry from Jo Sullivan's journal.
In the cubicle next to me, I can hear Ed Logan clicking away at his terminal in a frantic race to meet the 2:30 deadline. I turned in my stories over an hour ago. My vision is fogged from fatigue. The springs in my desk chair creak like an old woman’s bones groaning for mercy. And yet I still can’t let go of this project spread out in front of me.
It’s a series for my Street Stories column that focuses only on homeless teens from the past. Did they evolve into homeless adults or did they make it out somehow? How many of them are even still alive?
I’ve been scanning microfilm in my sleep every night. When I look in the mirror every morning the circles under my eyes remind me of kids shooting dope and smoking crack. When I see teens hanging out on street corners I wonder if they have a place to sleep at night. When I glimpse kids riding school buses I wonder if they know how lucky they are.
Obsessed much? Damn right I am, but I don’t have time to worry about that. And besides, I’m writing some damn good stories.
Ever wonder what stories occur behind the scenes of your favorite novel? Check back often to read read journal entries by your favorite characters from BEND ME, SHAPE ME. Here's an entry from Jo's Journal now.
What is it about the city that draws me to it? I came from Iowa, for God’s sake: corn-bred and cornbread, rolling green hills, potlucks, farm fields stretching across acres and acres. And cows–God, I miss cows with their soft brown eyes and wide noses.
Yet I am drawn to, no–energized by, the dirt and grime of Chicago, the press of buildings and people, the road rage.
Don’t get me wrong. I also love the country, the wide open spaces. Oh God, I long to just to sit on the shore somewhere and watch the waves beat against the rocks, or to be isolated in the wilds of Canada, in a peaceful shaft of sunlight streaming through a canopy of pine boughs. The birds and the squirrels and the wind like sustenance for my soul.
But here I’m–intense, alive, wrapped up in life. You can’t exist in isolation, not anymore. Life isn’t peace and contentment and pretty flowers sniffed by the noses of perfect, happy go lucky human beings. Life sucks. It’s hard and dirty and tries to grab you by the throat sometimes and choke the life out of you.
But you can’t let it. That’s what make life so interesting, that’s what makes life worth living. The fight to not let the darkness win.
If you are wondering what it is about Snow Ramirez that made me want to write a book about her, you might want to read the guest post I wrote about choosing street kids as subject matter for a suspense series. Snow’s plight stirs up an emotional response in the reader, much like the lives of the real kids I met did in my life.
In my first novel, Painted Black, a young man turns to drugs and prostitution in an attempt to withdraw from a reality too painful to deal with. In the latest novel, Bend Me, Shape Me, Snow Ramirez does the opposite. She chooses to fight back when she determines the psychiatrist treating her brother is harming him, not helping. Had the plot been about any other kid, there wouldn’t have been much tension to deal with. A 17-year-old with a support system of school, family and friends would be able to go to someone to express her concerns and would be heard. Someone would research the situation, find out the truth and save the boy. End of story.
If you’re homeless and have a mental illness like Snow, there is no support system available to help the person work their way out of that maze. She has to take things into her own hands, break laws to find evidence, rage against the injustice any way she can until someone finally listens to her story. How she catches the attention of my protagonist Jo Sullivan is more difficult, more meaningful, and more suspenseful because of her limitations as a homeless kid.
via Omnimystery News: Please Welcome Back Author Debra R. Borys.