Aye, mateys! I’ve taken the past few days to give you a little behind-the-scenes of the process of writing my upcoming (and very first!) novel, The Jolly Regina, the first in a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters. Today’s (final!) entry concerns some of the jokes and references in the story.
I love a good joke (obviously), but I also love using literary and cultural references to enhance my humor. Sometimes, my references are meant for kids, and other times, they can be a bit more sophisticated and adult. This is because I hope that kids of all ages will enjoy The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, so I’ve included all kinds of humor, for maximum entertainment. Also, I think the best stories are the ones you can come back to again and again, and discover something new and different each time. I especially love going back to stories I loved as a kid and discovering whole new meanings with my (semi-)adult sensibility. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving.
- I read a lot of Herman Melville in school, so there are quite a few Melville references in the story. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Princess Kwee-Kweg is based on Queequeg from Moby Dick. Also, Millie Mudd is based on Billy Budd, Sailor (I even gave Millie a slight stutter as an homage). And the Bland Sisters’ beleaguered mail carrier, Mr. Bartleby, is based on the infamous “Bartleby the Scrivener.” You might even say that Delilah’s obsessive hunt for The Booty Myth has parallels to Captain Ahab’s search for a certain white whale.
- As research for The Jolly Regina, I also read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (highly recommended if pirates are your jam). Jaundice and Kale hide in a dinghy during the big swashbuckling scene at the end much like Jim hides in an apple barrel aboard the Hispaniola.
- Gilly Guns Island is a reference to “Gilligan’s Island”, which was one of my favorite television shows when I was Jaundice and Kale’s age. (Back then, I aspired to be Mary Ann, but I think I’ve turned out more like the Professor.)
- Confession: I pirated two funny moments from two of my favorite movies. When Jaundice and Kale puzzle over the ladder in Chapter Eleven, their exchange (“Of course we know where it goes….It goes up”) mirrors one from Ghostbusters, which I saw in the theater when I was eleven (and promptly fell in love with Bill Murray and his deadpan humor). And when Jaundice and Kale discover the conch at the end of the story, the line “But this shell had no earthly business being among a pile of clams” is based on a similar line from another of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these little behind-the-scenes stories — and, ideally, that they’ve made you want to read The Jolly Regina! Happy reading, me hearties!
TOMORROW’S POST: A contest!