How Inspiration Comes in All Shapes:
SOME STORIES COME FROM THE MOST UNEXPECTED PLACES! When brainstorming for a story idea, I chose the topic “shapes”. I sat down with a piece of paper and drew a circle, a square and a triangle. At first, they were empty. So I drew some faces on them. How do I bring these shape characters to life? What made me excited as a kid? Two things popped into my head, #1 Pee Wee Herman, and #2 The B52’s!
1.) PEE WEE HERMAN: I was never allowed to watch Pee Wee’s Playhouse at home but I would catch glimpses of it at other people's houses. That show bent reality. It felt like a dream. There was a talking chair that looked SO REAL! It made me wonder if chairs only talked in Pee Wee’s Playhouse or maybe the chairs in my house would talk too, when no one was looking! I would sneak around the corner to try and catch my dad’s brown corduroy recliner in the act! That show really made me question and test the world around me.
2.) THE B52’S: The album “Cosmic Thing” by the B52’s was one of the first CDs my parents got for their cool new CD player. I made them play the song “Love Shack” for me all the time and would dance around the living room. The word “love” means something different as a kid. It’s not a romantic feeling but instead, a feeling of blissful connection towards your friends and family. I thought it was SO cool that the people in the song were getting together and having a party with the people they loved! I wanted to turn my Dad’s tool shed into a “Love Shack”. But then one day I got my wish. In first grade, I went on a trip to California for my aunt's wedding. At the wedding reception the DJ put on “Love Shack” I was like “ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW? You guys know this song TOO?!!!” I grabbed the microphone and began singing dancing like a total maniac. Everyone was on the dance floor. It was just euphoria! In my head, I was screaming “I LOVE EVERYBODY!!!!” I got to experience my version of a “Love Shack” and it was one of the most exciting memories of my childhood.
I took that energy and those feelings from my childhood memories, and wrote the plot of “The Shape Escape”. Some shapes live in a valley. An Octagon, a Square and a Tiny triangle. A Big Bully circle is bouncing around wreaking havoc. They put it in time-out up in a fortress at the top of a mountain. But one day the circle escapes and the tiny triangle emerges as the unexpected hero.
I wanted my shapes to come alive the way Pee Wee Herman made the objects around his house come to life. I even did my best Pee Wee Herman impression for the voice of the Circle.
Then I wanted the story to end with a surprise dance party that celebrates the tiniest shape in the valley. I paid homage to the B52’s by singing a short original song for the triangle!
This is one of my favorite stories because it came from such treasured memories. I hope the shapes delight you too!
Singing "Love Shack"
Pee Wee Herman & B52's Videos: