Around 2013, job furlough was imminent and I was stressing about what to do. As a stress reliever, I dived deeper into writing. Let’s face it, writing’s one of the healthier means of escape as opposed to other options. One source I drew inspiration from was cable news.
I believe that around this time, legalization of weed was a hot topic on just about every cable news cycle because Colorado was set to legalize the recreational use it. That got me thinking: Man, if I had some weed to sell, I could make a good chunk of change in Colorado. Hmm, what if someone had access to a ton of weed? They’d make a killing! What if they grew it, say in their backyard? Ah ha! I coalesced those two ideas and out popped a rough sketch of my protagonist, AJ. Ok. Cool, but how can I make him more interesting? I wanted to throw some complexities in the mix. So, I made him young, fresh out of high school and on the cusp of beginning his adult life. Instead of having him pressed for cash, let’s make him rich and come from an affluent family. Great! So, I have AJ and I know a little bit about his background, now how can I complicate his life? I know! Let’s have his father stumble upon his weed in the woods behind the house! Upon finding the stash, instead of admonishing AJ, he does something unexpected because he’s harboring a secret of his own. Bam! Now we have the makings of an interesting story.
After I had the general storyline mapped out, I decided that I wanted to dig deeper. I wanted to add more to it. I wanted something more than just a flat out thriller centered on a father and son dynamic. Once again, cable news was inspiring. This time, race relations was a hot topic (and continues to be so). I already knew I wanted to make my weed dealing protagonist a young white male since he would be (stereotypically) unassuming to law enforcement and could conduct “business” unimpeded. However, I didn’t want to write a story where all the characters were physically identical. That’s boring and not representative of society. I wanted something more dynamic, more colorful.
Granted, almost every character in Twisted Greens is relatively of the same racial/socioeconomic background; mostly everyone is white and rich. That makes sense. Folks interact with others who are similar to them. With that being said, that trend breaks down a little when you dissect society by class; affluent black and brown families exist just as do poor white families. In order to highlight this point, I decided to make his girlfriend (Savannah) black and make his good friend/business partner (Ethan) Asian. I consciously wanted both of these supporting characters to emphasize class distinction. Let’s take a closer look.
Savannah lives in AJ’s subdivision. Both of her parents are corporate lawyers and she attends the same private school as AJ. They have access to similar resources and are both set on pathways toward successful futures. Essentially, the only difference between Savannah and AJ is their skin tone. Now Ethan, on the other hand, represents another socioeconomic strata, arguably one to which most could relate. Ethan is a college student trying to make it without the financial help of family. In order to survive, he sells for AJ in addition to living off refund checks he receives from excess financial aid. The fact that AJ recruits Ethan to sell for him raises a bunch of other implications that, if you really want to dig deeper, you could. But, I’ll let the reader mull over those possibilities.
Now of course, you could completely ignore all the aforementioned stuff above and take the story at face value; it’s a thriller about a young rich man who sells weed and subsequently gets caught up in some drama. But, for those who would like to dive a little deeper, perhaps knowing my inspirations behind the story are a good starting place. As always, let me know your thoughts by clicking on the comment bubble next to the headline above.