The idea is to write an ode to your favorite author. I already did that back in 2004 with a short story with a long name: Spring in the Land of Broken Dreams. It's an ode to the works of John Irving, chock full of references to his novels--as many as there were at the time. If you're really familiar with his books you can probably find most of them.
Go over to Wattpad and read the story. Then come back here and I'll give you the list of references--the conscious ones anyway.
In the meantime, here's some appropriate music to read by.
And now some spoiler space! Here's the revised revised revised hopefully last edition of the cover to Girl Power: The Impostors. I realized the old version had all this space in the middle and the guy's ear kept bugging me because it was front and center. so in the second one you can see how I cut the ear off by putting the girl's hair over it. Now it looks more like she's standing in front of him, which gives it more of a 3D look so it's less flat. The overlapping isn't seamless, but from a distance I don't think it's noticeable.
OK, so there's all the spoiler space in case you wanted to do this right and not just cheat to find the answers.
Anyway, here are all the John Irving book references in the short story:
- The fat, obnoxious Harriet is the type of overbearing girl found in The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and Until I Found You (for starters)
- The author's name "Jack Colvin" is an amalgamation of Jack being another name for John, Col from Ted Cole in A Widow for One Year, and "vin" like IrVINg. Lot of work went into that.
- The New England setting of the town is a staple of many Irving novels
- New Hampshire is the setting (obviously) for The Hotel New Hampshire
- The town of St. John's stems from St. Clouds in The Cider House Rules combined of course with the author's name
- The red Volvo would be like the one TS Garp drives in The World According to Garp, in which one son is killed and another blinded in a car accident
- The Black Angus cows behind a stone wall were mentioned in The World According to Garp when he went out jogging and was nearly killed by a crazed fan
- St. John's Academy is similar to those featured in many Irving books, all of them based off Exeter (and sometimes he gets lazy and just uses Exeter)
- The wrestling coach is based off the one in Hotel New Hampshire for the most part, but also probably some other books as wrestling is another staple
- The coach's name "Bob Wolf" is an amalgamation of the wrestling coach in Hotel New Hampshire and a literary agent in Garp
- The cannon with names of lovers on it is similar to one in The World According to Garp that became filled with condoms
- The Federal-style house on Fourth Street where the old lady lives is based off the one the narrator lives in in A Prayer for Owen Meaney
- The lady's surname "Berry" comes from Hotel New Hampshire
- The pictures on the wall is a reference to A Widow for One Year
- When she says a picture is "out of cleaning" it's the same excuse Eddie gives to young Ruth in A Widow for One Year
- Prostitutes are featured in many Irving books
- Bears are another Irving staple. I couldn't wedge an actual bear in, so I used the bear-shaped door knocker as a substitute
- "Bogus" (used here for a dog) was the main character's nickname in The Water Method Man
- The dog's breed comes from Hotel New Hampshire or The World According to Garp (or possibly both)
- Pooh-slinging with lacrosse sticks was featured in The Fourth Hand
So you can see I crammed a whole lot of references into my ode to John Irving. There aren't specific references to a few books like Setting Free the Bears, The 158-Pound Marriage, or Son of the Circus but some of the general ones cover those. I really would have liked to wedge in some mention of Vienna, Toronto, and India since those were locations of some of Irving's novels, but obviously I was a bit limited by the New England setting. I think in an early draft I had someone from Vienna with a bear but I think I cut it because the story was getting too long.
And before you go and think I'm some creepy stalker, the whole point of this story is that you shouldn't meet your literary hero because you might find they aren't who you think they are. The idea for that came when I read Irving's autobiography in Trying to Save Piggy Sneed and when he was writing about a visit to the White House during the Reagan era it occurred to me the author might be kind of a jerk. I did write him eventually and he was very nice in his reply, so perhaps he's mellowed since then.
Have you ever thought of doing an homage to your favorite author?