I saw a play last week about the 1938 radio production of the War of the Worlds. I feel it is a great true-life example illustrating the responsibility writers have for their words and how they use them. For those who aren't familiar with what happened, here it is in a nutshell:
In 1898, H.G. Wells published a novel called WAR OF THE WORLDS that told the story of an alien invasion of earth. Forty years later, Orson Welles (no relation) adapted the book into a radio show and played in on air for Halloween.
The first two thirds of the commercial-free, 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated "news bulletins.” Many listeners thought an actual alien invasions by Martians was happening. The show caused a panic. Some people packed their cars and headed for safety. Others holed up in their basements till morning. When the general public learned it was a fictional story presented as news, there was a backlash.
Words have power. I remember the first time I ever read MY BROTHER SAM IS DEAD. I cried and cried. Even TWILIGHT evoked some interesting emotions in me. As an author, I hope my words can do the same, but I also want to do it in a responsible way.
How about you? What do you think about the power of words?
Here's the basic plot:
Dylan, the narrator of the story, is obsessed with cars and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He lives with his family in a teeny, tiny town called Manod in Wales. They own a gas station called the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel, which is located right next their home. Next to the gas station is a country road no one has used in years. It leads up the mountain to a hollowed-out slate quarry.
Massive flooding in London causes the entire contents of the National Gallery to be brought down and stored in the abandoned quarry. (An event similar to what really happened during World War II.)
Almost magically, the art brings life back to the dilapidated town. However, Dylan's little sister cannot stop her brilliant criminal mind from wanting to steal one of the paintings to help save the family's business that is nearly bankrupt.
I have to admit, this book did not start off with a bang. However, I pushed through the first few chapters and was glad I did. The author is witty, his characters are amazing, and the dialogue is hilarious. I even got my husband to listen to it who normally doesn't do fiction. (Curling up with the car manual from our Subaru Legacy is his idea of a good time.)
Frank Cottrell Boyce is also the author of the award-winning book MILLIONS.
Well, two nights ago my son who is nine was talking about men. He is very much into telling us the differences between men and women since he is the only boy in our family (besides his dad). Anyhow, he said, “That guy is such a man, he even has hairy biceps.”
Hairy biceps? I had no idea there was such a thing. I know some pretty hairy guys, but none of them have hair on their biceps. Do you know any? But I digress.
At the moment my son said it, I knew this was the phrase I had to include in my next novel. I have no idea how, but it will be there.
Of course, the real question for all of you psychologists is why did I fall in love with this combination of the words “hairy” and “biceps.” I'm not sure. Maybe it was the visual image of some guy who thinks he's cool strutting down the street in his short sleeve shirt with tufts of dark hair spilling out onto his arm, or maybe it was the time I spent living in France as a child where no one shaves (anywhere) and going swimming can be a seriously traumatic experience.
Whatever the reason, look for it in about five years when my best-selling third novel comes out. I can just see it now. Instead of teenage girls worshiping the image of a sparkling vampire, they will all be looking for a man with hairy biceps. So cool.
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