Earlier this week I was lucky enough to visit the Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers, MA, for a talk with a bright crowd of students. We spoke about writing, rewriting, and rewriting again as I led them through the process of how FISH, my recent pirate novel, evolved from a simple idea into a finished and bound novel full of characters, foreign lands, quests and puzzles.
During the question & answer session, a few of the young gentlemen in the crowd took exception to my appearance in one of the photos displayed during my presentation. At that point in the talk I had been explaining how the idea for a character who loves to swim but hates to fight sprang from my own experience.
As proof of the fact that I abhorred violence, I showed them the photo here, a picture taken on the occasion of my graduation from sixth grade. They said nothing of the white pants, the yellow shirt, the violin case, or the way I leaned so naturally against the prow of that imitation submarine. Instead they were solely interested in my colorful necktie. In fact they were abhorred, wondering aloud why anyone would wear such a thing. Intimidated by these small but powerful young men, I quickly blamed my brother, who was a terrible sartorial influence. But I should have stood up for my tie, and bowties in general. If asked again, I will present my defense, citing, among other things, the fact that they are far less likely to stain or be caught inside a massive, spinning saw than their elongated brethren.
A few brave members of the audience declared that they thought the bow tie was cool. And I thank them for that. Thanks as well to Michelle Deschene-Warren of the Peabody Institute Library and Holten librarian Sarah Woo for putting the event together.