Where did those ideas come from?

for CHILD OF MINE, a nostalgic romantic comedy

So many wildly varied events and people and pets from my life found their way into Child of Mine that I couldn’t fit them all into the Acknowledgements page!

First off, I have to credit one of my dearest friends from grad school. She played a villain on a soap that may have a similar name to the one in which Bella appeared but I won’t say more to protect her privacy. I heard lots of stories back when she when she was working on the show but she also patiently answered my endless questions when I was researching this book.

As for Bella’s struggle with addiction while working as a professional actor at a very young age, a soap actor on my friend’s show did end up going to rehab, but unlike Bella, his character did too. Articles and books written by and about Amber Tamblyn, Drew Barrymore, Melanie Griffith and others also informed Bella’s journey.

Moving on to the TV show I made up for the book: was anyone a fan of Zoom as a kid?

70’s Zoom intro – check out those striped rugby shirts!

I loved the show back when I was a kid! While I took many details from the original as well as the 90’s reboot, I also borrowed from a program from the 00’s that my kids loved: Fetch with Ruff Ruffman. However, as producer James points out (he’s based on the lovely James “Don’t call me Jim” Fields, a complete stranger who generously shared his experiences working on Zoom, as well as his early career in Raleigh), animation technology in 1989 wasn’t fast or cheap enough to do a create like Ruff, so I came up with the computer B.E.T.T.E. as a substitute for Ruff.

Fetch with Ruff Ruffman Intro

First Story Books isn’t based on a real shop in Boston; sadly, when I lived in Boston in the late 80’s and early 90’s, indie bookstores were already few and far between. These days we credit Amazon for the loss of local shops of all kinds, but in the late 20th century large chain bookstores were responsible for wiping out so many smaller bookstores. Ironically, Amazon was initially welcomed by publishers as a counterbalance to the power that giants like Waldenbooks, Crown Books, B. Dalton, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million (the latter two the only ones surviving today) held. Doris’s shop would’ve been one of the last holdouts of that era. I’m happy to say that we’ve seen a resurgence in such shops more recently, and I hope that trend continues.

As for the books that Lilah shares with Henry in the bookstore, all of the new releases really did come out in 1989: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Wayside School is Falling Down, Number the Stars, and The Winter Room.

Make Way for Ducklings was the very first book my eldest read aloud (to her class in preschool) and we made sure to visit the ducks in the Public Garden.

Finally, my pets are a necessary element to my writing in that at least one of the mammals (if not all) are always by my side. I spent part of the writing process for Child of Mine in Chicago away from them and I sure missed my fur babies. That may be why both Little Dog (aka Ribsy) and Newton (as himself) both made their way into this book. Newton’s personality is exactly like his cohorts.

Newton regularly climbs on top of my recording booth the way Newton the bookstore cat climbs up the bookcases
Little Dog

Sadly, like Ribsy, Little Dog is also full of buckshot. Happily, like Ribsy, this hasn’t altered his naturally friendly personality. Like Henry’s mom, he never met a stranger.

And this is how Newton is like bookstore cat Desdemona

Further Reading

  • “‘Come on and ZOOM!’: ZOOM and 1970s American Childhood” WGBH
  • “The Other Zoom Hopes You Didn’t Forget About It” Slate
  • “Amber Tamblyn: Britney Spears’s Raw Anger, and Mine” New York Times
  • “Drew Barrymore Is Keeping It Clean” New York Times
  • “Drew Barrymore: ‘My mother locked me up in an institution at 13. Boo hoo! I needed it.’” The Guardian
  • “Stephanie Tanner from Full House (Jodie Sweetin) Shares Her Story of Addiction and Recovery” Sober Nation
  • “Melanie Unplugged” Vanity Fair
  • “Bookstore Chains, Long in Decline, Are Undergoing a Final Shakeout” New York Times
  • “Tracking 20 years of bookstore chains” Publisher’s Weekly

4 thoughts on “Where did those ideas come from?”

  1. LeeF says:

    Thanks for sharing so many background details, especially about the fur babies.

    1. kwhite says:

      Fur babies are the best!

  2. JenM says:

    I have no memories of actually watching Zoom even though I was a young teen in the 70’s, but that intro! The video took me right back to it and I was able to remember every word to the opening theme song.

    1. kwhite says:

      I read somewhere that the Boston zip code 02134 is the most famous because of Zoom!

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