Trish Doller’s debut novel, Something Like Normal, is one of my most anticipated 2012 releases (my review). Did it live up to my expectations? Definitely. Which is why I was ecstatic when Trish mentioned that her main character, Travis, was partly inspired by Melina Marchetta’s Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road. Check out what Trish has to say about how the swoon-worthy Jonah Griggs influenced her writing.
Well, okay, the story is brilliant and beautiful, but for me, Jonah is pretty much the perfect love interest. He’s big, tough, strong, and in the beginning he’s a bit menacing and we learn he’s got a past, so he’s got a bit of bad boy about him. But as the story unfolds, he reveals the softer middle that makes him better than a bad boy. The way he worries about Taylor’s asthma. The way he’s vulnerable around her. And the cranky, gruff way he admits how he feels?
He stops and looks at me. “I’m here because of you. You’re my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it to be any other way? Hell, yes, but I don’t think that will be happening in my lifetime.”
Swoon. This is a boy who will be a rock and woe to anyone who tries to move him. And, as far as I’m concerned, a boy like that is so much better than a bad boy.
When I stared writing the book that would eventually become SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL, the main character was a girl and Travis was meant to be her romantic lead. As I thought about him, I knew I wanted him to have the same kind of tough-guy-with-a-soft-center quality that Jonah Griggs’ possesses.
And then the story changed. Travis became the main character and it was his world that was in turmoil. So the difference between the two boys becomes Jonah’s ability to reveal his softness in layers, while Travis’ vulnerabilities are laid bare for the reader to see. While I still think there’s a lot of Jonah in Travis, when you think about it, who is the real Griggs in SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL? Harper.
A wave of anger crashes over me. At myself for being unable to control my reactions. At Harper for just putting on a smile and saying it’s all good when it’s not all good. I throw my soda cup at the wall. It bursts on impact, splashing Coke everywhere.
“You’re too fucking nice to me.” I’m yelling at her and I don’t know why.
“What do you want me to do, Travis?” she yells back. “Be mad at you about this? Don’t be stupid.”
I don’t know about you, but I kind of like the idea of a female Griggs. Harper doesn’t baby Travis. She doesn’t shrink in the face of his outbursts, either. And when he’s at his lowest, she is a rock and woe to anyone who tries to move her.
So this guest post didn’t turn out exactly as I expected. I was going to tell you how one of Melina Marchetta’s characters inspired one of my own. Turns out, Jonah Griggs actually inspired two. Which is even better.
Thank you, Trish! Your guest post is like an ode to Jonah Griggs (which is always a good thing because he’s my favorite Marchetta male lead). Also, I think it’s awesome that he served as an inspiration for your own characters. Fellow Marchetta fans, does this post make you curious about Something Like Normal? Who are other fictional characters that remind you of Marchetta’s boys and girls?