DEVINE INTERVENTION has two main characters, a sixteen-year-old named Heidi, and her perpetually seventeen-year-old guardian angel, Jerome Hancock.
Jerome always dreamed of cutting an album--or several--with his totally awesome cousin Mike. This is what he planned to put on the cover. (Thanks to my excellent husband Adam, who made the art.)
I love the subtitle of the album, even though it's not part of the book. It's a nod to redundant album titles (Foghat by Foghat), which Adam and I find hilarious. And it also reminds me of a list we used to keep when we were first dating: Last Names We'd Rather Not Have.
"Hancock" was on it, for reasons I won't mention but that can be figured out by anyone with a similarly blue sense of humor. (And I'm truly sorry to anyone whose last name is Hancock. You can make fun of my last name all you want.)
Lately I've been asked a couple of times how I thought of X or Y detail in the book--things that seem impossibly off the wall, or evidence of some extra form of creativity.
For me, it's not really like that. Some of the most unexpected details come from the plain old life I've lived. Keeping that list of unfortunate last names was a way that Adam and I created our own secret language back then. And while that sounds a big gag-worthy, secret languages don't have to be all schmoopy and cute. Favorite songs, favorite meals, shared experience that were so awful they become funny ... these things stitch us together.
That lack of spark people sometimes complain about when they're set up on dates--I think this is just the sign that two people don't speak each other's languages. It's not to say they can't be learned, but it's so much more exciting when it happens all of its own accord.
And I like thinking of it this way, the secret language, the shared way you see the world, is a spark. When you're lucky, it combusts and is a source of lifelong warmth.
Anyway (gosh, I do go on), using this particular detail in a story lets me (I hope) entertain readers as I weave an otherwise invisible message to my husband into the text. Because it's a small detail I truly love, it helps me make my characters more vivid and lovable. So that's it. There's no magic to it. Just a bit of love.