Credit: The cover for my upcoming novel (2023/2024) was created by Brandon McKenzie. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
When I decided to write my first fictional novel, something I had to think about was how I could signify real memories, and recreate them. As a writer, I wasn't surprised to learn that many famous authors create stories loosely based on their own personal experiences. Although most events likely didn't happen, there is always some truth to their inspiration. My upcoming novel The Versatile Zoo will tackle my real world experiences from 2014, however, keep in mind the events that will take place in the novel are about 98% fictional.
Credit: Photo taken of Brandon Skanes. This photo was taken in 1999, when I was three years old. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
Although this photo depicts myself sitting on a fence, this effectively captures a real moment in time. Much like written prose, the resulting stories are often taken from some sort of real world experiences. For example, The Versatile Zoo will contain a scene about a crazy high school graduation party. Although the events in the book will be much different from what actually happened, this cannot dismiss the significance of the real moment the scene is drawing from. Keeping that in mind, I will not discuss the real events which transpired to protect the identity of those involved.
Credit: Photo taken of Brandon Skanes. December 25, 2002. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
When looking at the image above, I know this was taken during Christmas of 2002. The original Spider-Man film from Sam Raimi had been released on May 3, of the same year. For kids, and even adults whom of which were fans of comic books, this new take on the Spider-Man franchise was quite significant. Much like a lot of other kids I knew, I was pretty obsessed with the friendly-neighborhood hero of New York. (Spider-Man (2002) - IMDb)
Message from the Author:
The planning and preparation for this book started in late 2014, when I finished high school. During the last few months of my time in high school, a lot of what you would call “crazy” things happened (interesting life experiences) and that is what originally inspired me to write this book. Something teenagers can relate to in a general sense, is the idea of overcoming adversity, learning new lessons, and learning how to assimilate into the world of adults. Not surprisingly, being a teenager and young adult is often viewed as the best times of our lives for some people. From my perspective, I had a lot of interesting adventures for sure. Of course that can be argued, but for the most part people have fond memories of when they were making the transition from teenager to adult. As a folklorist, the process of becoming an adult fascinates me since it’s the perfect example of a “liminal space”, meaning it is an “in-between” period from one stage of life to another.
Credit: John Knowles is a famous American novelist. John Knowles was born on September 16, 1926 in Fairmont, West Virginia to father James M. Knowles, a purchasing agent, and mother Mary Beatrice Shea Knowles, and died on November 29, 2001 at the age of 75. [sic]. Image taken from: About the Author (weebly.com). Retrieved December 28, 2020.
When I was in my last year of high school (2013-2014), part of the reading curriculum was Knowles' A Separate Peace. (1959)
After reading this book from John Knowles, I was inspired to start writing- at least at some point. Nevertheless, Knowles is certainly one of my writing influences.
Excerpt from The Versatile Zoo, "Introduction":
I started writing professionally on April 20, 2020. More specifically, I have become an academic writer and have already published three short books at the time of originally writing this introduction (December 7, 2020). Initially, I wanted to write this novel and make it my primary focus. However, as time went by I finished my English degree at Memorial University and started writing on my blog called The Modernist Son. I was quite adamant this book would not see the light of day, but I was convinced otherwise by my girlfriend, and some of my friends. Something to keep in mind, the following story you are about to read is much different from the original draft. It’s not that my writing skills at the age of eighteen/nineteen were non-existent, but the content contained in the original book- I could not bring myself to publish something so disturbing. The original manuscript was filled with inside jokes, and didn’t necessarily form a coherent story. It wasn’t poorly written, but it might have been something readers would view as a difficult investment. Although this final draft will be quite satirical and comedic, there will not be any jokes or scenes which truly cross the line.
Nevertheless, as my writing matured, I decided to re-write the entire first draft. I removed sections of the book which were unnecessary or unrealistic, and returned to this project once again. Although the nature of this book, The Versatile Zoo is loosely based on my real life experiences- remember this is a work of fiction. Furthermore, the majority of the events in this book did NOT happen, to any effect. Some of the characters within the story are based on real people, whom of which are close friends of mine.
Image Credit: Brandon Skanes (left), Morgan Piercey (centre), and Cory Sellars (right). Image was taken April 11, 2014.Retrieved December 7, 2020. The book’s three main characters are based on myself, (Harvey), Morgan (Liam), and Cory (Sheldon). I would like to thank Mr. Piercey and Mr. Sellars for their permission, albeit encouragement, to base fictional characters on them.
I would also like to thank Mr. Brandon McKenzie, the man responsible for designing the cover art for this work of fiction. Without his photography skills, I probably would have drawn the cover art myself. Interestingly, I met Brandon through my job at a local coffee shop- since he’s a frequent customer there. Finally, I want to thank everyone for taking interest in this book and making it happen.
© The Modernist Son, 2020 -
More from the Author:
About the Author (weebly.com). This refers to information about American author, John Knowles (1926-2001).
Spider-Man (2002) - IMDb. This link will direct readers to the 2002 film.