Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rockin' In The '80's...For God's Sake, Why?

Take onnnnnnnnn meeeeeee! Take me on....

So sang one of the poets of the '80's, "Aha," with their socially relevant message.

Pretty much sums up what the '80's were about in a nutshell. Non-threatening, bland, everyone afraid to admit "this decade sucks, so let's have fun!"

Karma, karma, karma, karma chameleonnnnnn, you turn me onnnnnnnn....

I suppose Culture Club had it right. Nothing was going on so you may as well think about love. And Karma.

I was in college in the '80's. Thought I had the cat by the tail. There I was on the dance-floor, gyrating like I was having a seizure, fists pumping and swinging. Pretty much acting like I was swinging a cat by the tail. Thought I was cool.

For the love of God, why didn't anyone ever tell me how moronic I looked and acted?

It's a mistake, it's a mistakkkkkkkke....

The Australian band, "Men At Work," wailed those words. For some inexplicable reason, my roommate thought they were singing, "Nice summer dayyyyyy, nice summer dayyyyyyyy." But that's neither here nor there.

The '80's was a mistake. Just look at the fashions. I was sporting designer jeans, long past their popular shelf life. Hey. I was (still am) in Kansas. We get on the band-wagon about five years after the fact. My light-colored sports jacket was stained (it'd weathered too many beer blow-outs), but I made sure to pull those sleeves up (a shout-out to Crockett and Tubbs on "Miami Vice"). And I couldn't leave the dorm without a shockingly bright t-shirt. At least I never went in for the bandannas placed indiscriminately around either neck, arm or leg (thanks, Duran-Duran!).

Girls just wanna' have fu-hun, oh, girls just wanna' have funnnnnnn....

If three hours of making your hair bigger than Godzilla is considered "fun," then Cyndi Lauper had it right. I felt sorry for my female '80's peers. I struggled enough with my own hair. I tried to feather it but it wouldn't cooperate. One side was always off. I tried the long hair in the back, shorter on the sides, the precursor to the dreaded "mullet." Nothing worked. I desperately wanted to look like a "Duke of Hazzard." Came out the other end, resembling Gary Busey. Modern-day Gary Busey. At least males didn't have to contend with leg warmers and big-shouldered jackets. Though some guys did try to make it a thing.

Tonight I'm gonna' party like it's 1989... (Emergency Edit! My wife just told me I got the lyrics wrong. She's right! Gah! Should be "1999," of course. SO...we'll treat it like this...)

Thank you, Prince! Sure you're amping on about how you wanna' party in 1999. But you sang it in the '80's. Betcha' you don't wanna' party like it's 1999 any more. 1989 was MUCH better. But we partied. And we did, oblivious to the world around us. While we were spastically jumping about the dance-floor, the world was suffering through increasing economic debts, the Iran-Iraq war, the Soviet-Afghan war, the realization of global warming, and other trauma. The world was on the cusp of becoming a scarier, more hostile place.

But we remained in our own little, insular world, hanging out on the dance-floor.

I feel sorry for kids these days. Now, they have to suspect every suspicious package they see and keep a wary eye out for odd behavior. The '80's seems like it was the last "innocent" decade.

Sometimes, especially now, I wish I could go back.

Except, of course, for the hideous fashion, brain-dead music, and totally awful, culturally popular movements.

We got the beat, everybody get on the floor! 'Cause we got the beat, we got the beat, we got the beat, yeaaaaaaah! We got the beat!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Uncovering The Acadian Secret With Tammy Lowe

Hey! Author Tammy Lowe has decided to go under my scalpel here at Twisted Tales From Tornado Alley and chat up her new book The Acadian Secret. Her MG/YA fantasy/time-jumping tale's a great read for people of all ages and is highly recommended. Let's see what she has to say for herself.

Hi Tammy! Please tell us about your book. But you have to do it in poem form. It’s gotta’ rhyme. Go!
 Oh jeepers!  You’re going to keep me on my toes, aren’t you?
Okay, let’s see…
Elisabeth finds she can play in the past.
“How on Earth did I get here?” she asked.
On a small island three boys search with pleasure,
Have the teens found Cap’n Kidd’s buried treasure?
Okay! You passed the poetry challenge! Research, Tammy, let’s chat research. Your Scottish dialect and landscape rings true. How much did you do?
I’ve always loved Scottish history.  It fascinates me.  A few years ago, we brought our son on an adventure across the Scottish Highlands.  We stayed in the stone tower of a fifteenth century castle.  We wandered the glens and sailed across Loch Ness in search of Nessie.
 Scotland will always hold a special place in my heart.  I swear there is a magical quality you can feel in the air.  It’s not surprising that so many legends spring up from that part of the world.  After being there, you start to wonder if maybe there’s some truth to them.  *grin*
As for the dialect, I “winged” it. That being said, when I was a little girl in nursery school, I had two Scottish daycare teachers.  Over time, I began to pick up a bit of an accent from them.  It’s probably still embedded in my brain somewhere.  
I did a lot of research for other parts of the book as well. The Oak Island treasure hunt is one of the most famous in the entire world and I wanted it to be as historically accurate as possible.  I am fascinated with the way James Cameron did Titanic.  Jack and Rose were fictional characters bouncing off of real-life people and events.  That was in the back of my mind as I wrote “The Acadian Secret.”  I laughed when my son told me I should come up with a more exciting name for John Smith.  John and his friends were real people.  They discovered the pit and sparked one of the greatest treasure hunts in history. 
 And what about the haggis? Do you like haggis? Does anyone?
Call me crazy, but I didn’t try haggis while I was in Scotland.  I was more interested in trying the deep fried Mars Bars. With ketchup.  By the time I found them, I had just finished eating a big meal and was too full.
I’ve heard it said that haggis tastes like shoe leather.  I suppose there are those that enjoy shoe leather.  Heck, maybe I’d enjoy shoe leather haggis if I tried it. Perhaps someday I will. I never say never.
I like how you mix up your characters with real people.  Did the idea for your book start with a “what-if” scenario based in reality?
I suppose you could call it a “what if.”  Oh, this is SO going to illustrate what a dork I am…
As a kid, I loved to read books and watch shows like Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables.  I loved anything set in the “olden days.”
When I was about ten years old, I began to wonder about time travel.  My biggest wish was that I’d end up back in the pioneer era.  I wanted to go and hang out with spoiled Nellie Olsen.  I don’t remember why I wished for Nellie over Laura Ingalls, but I think it had something to do with the fact that her parents owned the candy shop.
I had it all figured out.  I didn’t want to live in the 18th or 19th century; I’d miss my family too much. And I can’t live without modern comforts.  I wanted the freedom to travel back and forth through time.
So strong was my wish to time travel, I even dressed the part, as much as I could, without raising anyone’s suspicions.  I wore dresses to school every day, when all my friends wore jeans and t-shirts. I had to be prepared just in case it worked and I was whisked through time. That summer, I even begged my mom to buy me a bonnet.  She did.  I wore that white bonnet everywhere.  If I ended up in Walnut Grove or Avonlea, I was prepared.  I have a photograph of me and my bonnet.  I think you can guess which kid I was.

 By the sixth grade I was old enough to realize that time travel probably wasn’t going to be a reality for me, so I decided that when I grew up, I’d write a story about a girl who could travel back and forth through time. 
 You captured the voice and characterization of kids very well. Are they based on anyone you know or did you wing it?
None of the kids/teens are based on anyone I know.  I do have a teenage son, and I have spent my entire adult life working with young children, so I interact with kids, way more than adults, on a daily basis. 
 Hope I’m not spoiling anything by saying Matthew Hopkins, witch-hunter, shows up. My jaw dropped. I associate him with morbid Vincent Price horror films. Yet you seamlessly wove him into your novel. What inspired that?
Some of my favourite literary characters have been the villains. Mr. Hobson is pompous, ambitious and human.  In his mind, he is not a villain, but a hero.  I wanted to illustrate those qualities.
The Acadian Secret’s like a big ol’ puzzle--full of different eras, characters and incidents doled out over time. I love puzzles.  How do you write such a beast? Do you begin at the end? And this question becomes even more “meta” when you consider how many different eras are covered.
I spent quite a while plotting the timelines. I had notebooks and spreadsheets and post it notes scattered everywhere.  The story was written in layers and woven together.
There are some spit-out-coffee, laugh-out-loud moments in your novel.  I very much enjoyed your amusing characters. To me, humor’s gotta’ be somewhere in a novel. Discuss.
Ironically, I didn’t set out to be humorous.  I was just telling a bedtime story.  I didn’t even realize there were laugh-out-loud moments until my editor started leaving me comments in the margins telling me she found this hysterical, or she just laughed out loud at a certain spot.  I bet if I had tried to make funny moments, it wouldn’t have worked.  Instead, I just let the story unfold and those moments happened naturally. 
Okay. Time travel. From a scientific view-point, I had issues about items traveling with Elisabeth to and fro.  Please justify. “Magic” ain’t a viable option.
It’s totally possible for items to travel with Elisabeth.  If you don’t want to say “magic” think of the transporter on Star Trek.  Now, that’s not time travel, but it is people materializing somewhere else.  The Away Team always arrives with their tasers, a diplomat can arrive with a briefcase, or Dr. Crusher with her medical bag.
My favourite view-point comes from an intriguing internet “event” that happened during 2000-2001.  John Titor claimed to be an American Military time traveler from the year 2036. He left posts on a message board describing his time machine and how he had to come back to retrieve an old IBM computer that they needed in the future to debug a program.  He left messages, some cryptic.  Of course, it was all taken in jest and he stopped posting in March 2001.
 Later, when people went back and re-read his posts, it was more than a bit eerie.  Some predictions of his had come true, including “missing towers in NYC”.  Also, the computer he came back to retrieve did have some special feature that was not widely known to the public.
It’s a fantastic tale.  Again, his intention was to come and bring an item back to the future with him. 
I’ve read that if time travel was discovered in our future, one of the things it would be used for would be to go back and retrieve artifacts, documents, DNA etc.  So, none of these are “magical” but rather scientific, in a sci-fi sort of way.  I think if Elisabeth can travel through time with the clothes on her back, there won’t be any problem with her sticking some chocolate into her backpack.
Well, you nearly lost me with Star Trek, Tammy, but I'm back on board again with your John Titor tale! Thanks for stopping in, Tammy!

Please do read The Acadian Secret by Tammy Lowe. It's terrific. You can find it here: