Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post: Shaun David Hutchinson + DONNIE DARKO = Awesome YA Novel

I'm pleased to welcome Shaun David Hutchinson to the blog today! Shaun's the author of The Deathday Letter, a hilarious yet touching YA novel that should be on everyone's to-read pile. And since I loved this book so much, I figured I'd ask him to stop by and share his awesomeness with you. 

Take it away, Shaun!

What character from a teen movie deserves his own YA book?

I love movies almost as much as I love books.  Having an older brother, I grew up with the great teen movies of John Hughes and others from that era.  The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, One Crazy Summer, Better Off Dead, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  In fact, I sometimes pitched THE DEATHDAY LETTER as a Ferris Bueller's Day Off type adventure...the big difference being that my character dies in the end.

There are so many to choose from.  I think the geek from Sixteen Candle could definitely have his own YA series (and I think Jake Wizner could totally write it).  One of my favorite teen movies, Stand By Me, was already a novella by Steven King.  I'd love to see more of Brendan Frye from BRICK, and I bet Steve Brezenoff would own writing a book like that.  But for me, if I were writing it, I'd want to write a YA series about the character Donnie Darko from the movie of the same name. 

Clearly, that's not possible (and if you've seen the movie, you'll understand what I mean--if you haven't, quit reading this and go watch it).  But what draws me to Donnie is the oddness of him.  I'm drawn to reading and writing characters who don't fit in.  Characters who are average and normal and on the outside.  I'm drawn to misfits who are forced into unique situations.  A random, horny teen having to decide how to die.  A scared guy living in a hospital.  An orphan searching for his parents' murderer.

The character of Donnie is this guy who talks to a giant talking rabbit.  He hallucinates.  He narrowly avoids being crushed under the weight of a jet engine.  But he's not special.  He's normal.  Maybe a little mentally unstable.  But he still worries about dying, and girls, and kissing.  And despite the fact that he might possibly be living in a parallel timeline created by a paradox, life goes on.  Because we're all normal, a little screwed up, and living in this surreal world.

Those are the people who are interesting to me.  Donnie Darko...and Frank the rabbit. 

And if I had a second choice, it'd be Brian Johnson, the geek from the Breakfast Club.  Because I'm betting at some point, he loses it.  And I think that'd be interesting to see.

The clock is ticking?
Ollie can't be bothered to care about anything but girls until he gets his Deathday Letter and learns he's going to die in twenty-four hours. Bummer.
Ollie does what he does best: nothing. Then his best friend convinces him to live a little, and go after Ronnie, the girl who recently trampled his about-to-expire heart. Ollie turns to carloads of pudding and over-the-top declarations, but even playing the death card doesn't work. All he wants is to set things right with the girl of his dreams. It's now or never?

Huge thanks to Shaun for sharing his pick!! And if you haven't done so yet, go check out The Deathday Letter, which is in stores now!
Have you seen Donnie Darko? If so, what's your favorite thing about it? Any other dark movie characters you think should get their own YA novels?


  1. It's one of the best films ever, and Shaunie could write a great book about Donnie.

    The only thing that sucked was the second movie. It wasn't terrible, but I had so been hoping it would be as good as the first.

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