How a Terrible Movie Changed My Book

point-break-poster08 For some reason I’m still not clear on, movie studios decided to remake Point Break last year. The original is something of a modern action classic, starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, and tells the story of a young FBI agent who goes undercover with a group of thrill-seeking thieves with hearts of gold. It’s a silly premise, but people loved it. Why anyone believed a remake was a good idea is beyond my comprehension. Why I decided to watch it is still a mystery to me. It was on HBO Now, I was working on edits, I just wanted something brainless. (If you’re curious of my play-by-play thoughts, look up the hashtag #NoPointBreak on Twitter. I live tweeted it.)

This post isn’t a movie review (the movie was bad, I don’t recommend it). It’s about the old author adage: “Inspiration can be found in the strangest places.”

See, as bad as the new Point Break was, without it I don’t think I’d have been able to write Black Magic Bayou. At least not the version I currently have, which I adore.

In Point Break, the Swayze character Bodhi is played by Edgar Ramirez. I remembered really loving Ramirez in the Kiera Knightly action flick Domino, and figured if this movie sucked at least I’d have something to look at. What I didn’t expect was how magnetic Ramirez was on screen. With his wet curls and tattoos, he was irresistible in every scene. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, even as the terrible dialogue came out of his mouth and the staggeringly stupid plot unfolded around him. I found myself thinking “how could this man be better used?”we-re-all-going-to-die-photo-u1

And so Santiago was born. I was at a point in writing Black Magic Bayou where I knew how the story needed to progress, but I also knew something was missing. Some spark that would create conflict and interest. I couldn’t have Genie’s path run too smoothly, and needed a foil in her budding romance with Wilder. Santiago managed to be everything the story was missing. Without giving too much of the story, he is a gifted natural witch who Genie allies herself with in order to help solve a dangerous problem. He is charming, incorrigible, and darkly appealing. And he would not exist if I hadn’t watched Point Break.

i-need-to-get-to-bodhi-photo-u1 Now, don’t get me wrong: Santiago isn’t Bodhi. Santiago isn’t even Edgar Ramirez (though his appearance certainly influenced the character). But without Ramirez’s portrayal of Bodhi, I don’t think Santiago would exist. The book would have suffered for his absence. Much like Thunder Road wouldn’t have been quite the same without Jon Bernthal’s turn as Frank Castle in Daredevil season 2.

Inspiration is all around us, and for any creative person it’s hard to know when it’s going to spark something inside you. The entire bayou world of the Genie McQueen books started out as a result of watching the show Swamp People one night, and I asked myself “what would happen if a bunch of werewolves went rogue in the bayou?” Thus the story of the loups garou from Keeping Secret was born, and with it the entire southern mythos that would become Genie’s world.

Point Break might have been a completely pointless movie that was otherwise a waste of my time, but I’ll be forever grateful for what it gave me.

Inspiration is a funny thing, and I for one will always be willing to run with it when it shows up.

 

Black Magic Bayou comes out October 5.

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