Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Unlikely influences on my first book

In 1996, my first book came out. It was an activity book based on a character I did not create, a rabbit named Felix. This little guy originated in Germany and is still very popular there. The activities were themed around two subjects, geography and history.

In 1999, the sequel came out, and despite the usual pattern, it was better than the first—much longer, too. In fact, it contained the first book and added four new sections: holidays, telling time, the environment, and space. It also contained several features I felt made it stand out: a star code to indicate complexity of each activity, a subject index (yes, in an activity book! about a rabbit!), a skills index, and a contest to create an activity for the next activity book (which still has not come).

Recently I came across a list I made at the time that indicates what influenced me while writing this. (Yes, an activity book can have influences, apparently.) Reading this list will either A) make you curious enough to seek out the long-out-of-print book or B) cause you to consider me legally (or at least textually) insane. What's more, I have now expanded the list. (So I guess you're going with choice B.) Here it is:

  • No Jacket Required by Phil Collins (page 12) *
  • "All I Need Is a Miracle" by Mike + the Mechanics (page 27)
  • "The Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (page 41)
  • The Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last" (page 46)
  • "Talk of the Town" section of The New Yorker (page 53)
  • Baby the Rain Must Fall (1965 movie I still haven't seen; page 55)
  • License to Drive (never saw that one either; page 57)
  • "One Thing Leads to Another" by the Fixx (page 60)
  • "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" (page 64)
  • Coins in the Fountain by John Hermes Secondari (page 73)
  • * "Take Me Home" by Phil Collins (page 103)
  • Foster's beer slogan "Australian for beer" (which I renamed "Australian for Fun"; page 112)
  • Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi (here called "Slippery When Wetland"; page 117)
  • Tool Time from Home Improvement (page 128)
  • Olympics tagline "thrill of victory" (page 132)
  • card game Set (finding various kinds of patterns; page 132)
  • "Love Among the Ruins" by Robert Browning (page 133)
  • "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles (pages 148-9)
  • Rashomon (four Native Americans tell the same story from their respective points of view; pages 166-7)
  • "Sunshine on My Shoulders" by John Denver (page 183)
  • Name That Tune (page 194)
  • "Live, from New York, it's..." from Saturday Night Live (page 203)
  • Rabbit Redux by John Updike (page 224)
  • The World According to Garp by John Irving (page 232)
  • "Chain of Fools" by Aretha Franklin (page 247)
  • "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" from The Wizard of Oz (page 249)
  • "As Time Goes By" from Casablanca (page 252)
  • The Anti-Coloring Book (in general)

Some influenced the title while others influenced the concept of an activity. Which do you think is the most outlandish?

1 comment:

hobbyfan said...

Ok, I'll bite. Where's the soundtrack album?

All kidding aside, with audiobooks a popular thing these days, maybe they should come with soundtracks.......