Ten writers for children. All with something to say.

9/22/10

The Absolutely True Story


Through the wonders of the Internet and laptop computers, I am at the Indianapolis Airport, waiting to board my flight home after a wonderful trip to Cape Cod and Boston (an early 50th birthday gift from my good friend Gary). It's my day to post a blog entry, and I thought it would be fitting to describe the seed of inspiration for my young adult novel, ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOT, especially since it involves my friend Gary, who is pictured sitting here next to me at the airport.

Almost ten years ago Gary and I were walking around one of the lakes in St. Paul when we happened to pass a prom couple having their picture taken by their parents. Gary turned to me and said, "I hate prom!" When I asked him why he still had such a strong reaction against prom so many years after the fact, he recounted being pressured to attend prom twice, with girls. Gary happens to be gay like I am, and having to attend prom with someone whom you're not romantically interested in was not much fun.

As we continued walking around the lake, I thought about Gary's predicament. How could a teenage boy, who was not ready to admit he was gay, avoid having to take a girl to the prom? The answer suddenly seemed crystal clear: he could take a dog instead. While that might sound implausible, two seniors at my high school took mannequins to the prom, so why couldn't someone take a dog.

Excited about this idea, I went home and began writing a short story called "Taking Alice to the Prom." To make a long story short, (or more accurately, to make a short story long), that story, which was published in Cicada magazine, became the basis for my novel ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOT.

Thank you, Gary, for hating prom.

9 comments:

Christy said...

David, it is particularly interesting and timely to know the origin of this story because I just finished reading it two days ago! It's delightful and funny, and important too.

john said...

Great story. Great book, Welcome home, David.

Edie said...

David,
I love hearing stories about how stories get started! And it's also interesting that the same seed can result in more than one story, i.e. your short story and your novel! Happy Early Birthday!

betsy woods said...

Wonderful blog, David. Wonderful story and lucky you and Gary!

Stephanie said...

What a great story:)

Diane Adams said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I have a feeling that there a ton of kids out there who want to thank you for what you've given them through your writings.

Lauren said...

I'm with Gary. I hated prom. Not because I was forced to go, but because I never got asked!? (I was a super hippie teenager-- perhaps it didn't really suit my type at the time?) Taking my dog would have been a very fun solution. David I had heard you tell this story years ago, but now that I have come to know you and Gary better and I have read the book, it adds wonderful depth. Thank you and Happy Early Birthday!

Christy said...

I found the perfect dog to take to the prom. Check out this Youtube video of the dancing merengue dog:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc9xq-TVyHI

Mark said...

Great post, David. Yet another example of how personal anguish can be transformed into art which is truly universal. Thanks for sharing, and for expanding your story into a novel!