Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Common Questions for Mary Losure

Mary Losure talks to Colin about superheroes, summertime, and writing like a detective

Mary Losure discusses Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron, Tuesday, May 14th at Common Good Books!

CGB: WildBoy, like The Fairy Ring, is based on a true story that is bewilderingly hard to believe. What attracts you about truth that's stranger than fiction? For the sake of argument, why not give the wild boy a cape and have him come from planet Krypton? Licensing?

ML: What attracts me is the chance to be writer-as-detective, which is what happens when you choose non-fiction. It draws you in, and pretty soon you can’t stop thinking about these characters in your book who are also real people who left paper trails for you to follow. I had no idea when I began The Fairy Ring what an extravagantly odd story it would turn out to be.
The wild boy’s story I knew from the start was strange, but I didn’t want to fictionalize it. In part that was because it had already been done quite a few times as fiction, but mostly I wanted to tell his true story because I wanted to learn for myself who he really was. But I admit the idea of wild boy as caped superhero didn’t occur to me! A GRAPHIC NOVEL! I just wish I could draw… 

On the back flap, both you and illustrator Timothy Basil Ering talk about what drew you to the story. It's an amicable touch that let me know the book was something that you cared about and, quite possibly, aren't through caring about. Having written the book, what about this boy's story remains a story to be told? And can it?

There’s a fascinating gap in the wild boy’s history—his life from his mid-twenties until he died at the age of 40. The paper trail cuts off there entirely. Unless new evidence is discovered, I think the grown-up part of his life is a story that can never be told.
If I were writing it as FICTION for adults, though, I can imagine all kinds of scenarios. Wild Man knows sign language fluently, joins the underground community of deaf people known to exist in the Paris of his day, sails with them to America to begin new life in wilderness…and so on.
Sub question: If a box of macaroni or a face soap did the same thing--including not just a synopsis but behind the scenes look inside/personal reactions to the making of the macaroni/face soap--would you be more or less inclined to give it a whirl? 

Less! Way less! Unless children were somehow involved as the heroes of their own well-documented story. (The Macaroni Gang. The Face Soap Conspiracy.) In which case, I would look into it.

With summer movies coming up, there is no shortage of "true stories" to choose from. What plus side is there to spending a lazy afternoon reading a book as opposed to spending a lazy afternoon watching 3-D movies about loud crashing noises?

I really like 3-D movies with loud crashing noises! I loved Avatar. I’m a big fan of Dreamworks and Pixar and computer animated movies with talking animals, castles, princesses, monsters, etc. But the thing about movies is -- it’s dark in theaters. And summer is short! Winter is long. You can watch movies then. Or at night, when it’s dark outside. Not on a beautiful summer afternoon when the ideal form of entertainment is a book.

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