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How an old idea is kickstarting my new year

fizz-colourMeet Fizz! The goblin who lived in my notebook for a decade I have a lot of story ideas. It comes with the territory. Some are good. Some should be taken down to the lake and, y’know … Others should be left to simmer in one of my many, many notebooks. While they simmer, they evolve. Sometimes they evolve into something usable. I’m bouncing my way into 2014 because one of my oldest ideas has evolved into something kinda cool. It involves a goblin. His name is Fizz and he’s knocked around my notebooks for many years, always evolving and never being satisfied to stay quiet for long. You haven’t met him yet, but you will. Fizz is one half of my newest detective duo in my latest series Tank & Fizz, forthcoming from the amazing Orca Publishers. He wasn’t always a detective and he taught me a valuable lesson that all writers, from kids in school to old-timers like me can benefit from.

Humble Goblin-y Beginnings

There’s no hiding that I’m a bit of a D&D geek, as readers of my last YA novel Ganked will attest to. As a kid, I poured over the Monster Manual any minute I could. I stared at the black and white pencil drawings. I memorized their stats from Armor Class to Hit Dice, I’ve always been fascinated by the monsters I faced in all those deep dark dungeons. Back in 2000, I decided I wanted to write about one monster. A goblin living under a vast mountain. At first, I went for the low-hanging fruit ideas: the goblin is a wizard, the answer to the prophecies of legend, blah, blah. blah. Thankfully, those ideas got quickly shelved.

The Goblin Who Wouldn’t Go Away

But the idea of a goblin as a main character kept cropping up. Around 2006, I was thinking about becoming a teacher. So I volunteered in a local school. It was there I met a kid who insisted we call him Fizz. That was his nickname and the only thing he answered to. Immediately, I liked the name Fizz. Somewhere in my writer’s brain, it latched onto that goblin wizard hiding out in a notebook from way back. With a new name, Fizz the goblin was determined to have a story written about him.

Fizzin’ and Popping through Genres

So, now the goblin had a name. Now all he needed was a story to go with it. I tried him in space. I tried him in modern times. I tried him as a computer-hacking, junk-food-eating time traveller. But nothing stuck. The lake was calling for Fizz the Goblin, but I wasn’t ready to take him there yet.

Enter the Tank

There was still one story genre I didn’t try and it’s the one I write the most: mysteries. I put a pair of gumshoes on my goblin and sent him off to solve crimes. And that’s when things took off.

Fizz suddenly got a partner called Tank (more on her very soon) and place to do the detecting: a normal, average, run of the mill, school. A school run my an eight-legged principal in the heart of a monster-filled city run by a crooked mayor and hooked on a goopy, stinky, substance sucked from the ground. Around this very old character, I created the world of Rockfall Mountain and the metropolis of Slick City. Within that city, I buried mysteries as old as the rock itself, added in a touch of technology and created my new series for young readers: Tank & Fizz.

Letting Old Ideas Simmer and New

With this new year taking shape, I’m very excited to be returning to an old friend. That goblin from many years and many notebooks ago will finally have a chance to shine. Tank & Fizz is for younger readers (Grades 1 – 3) and it’s illustrated by the monstrously talented Mike Deas and published by the fantastic folks at Orca Book Publishers. I guess the moral of this post to all writers, teachers and readers is: Don’t give up on an old idea. Let it simmer and see what becomes of it. You might be surprised. Over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing more stuff about the characters and the series over at: tankandfizz.tumblr.com. Follow us here or tag along in the twitter, where I’m @liamodonnell. I’m hoping you’ll come along for the monster-filled journey.

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