Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Designs on You
by Carrie Pack
Guest Blog: DESIGNS ON YOU
Designs on You is based on my early career as a graphic designer, but parts of my other jobs have made their way into my writing as well. I’m currently an adjunct professor at a small college in Florida, and even though none of my characters is a college student, I still drew some inspiration from that as well. When we meet Scott at the beginning of Designs on You, the project he is working on—a logo for a cupcake shop—was inspired by a conversation I had with a fellow professor. She teaches graphic design and was lamenting how many assignments she received that were some variation of “I designed a logo for a cupcake shop.”
Graphic design is a very trend-driven field, and students are not immune to that. Everything they were submitting was pink and white and “whimsical.” As a teacher, it gets old really fast to see the same thing over and over again, and I realized that was no different than when I worked as a graphic designer: everything becomes monotonous and repetitive. So Scott is haunted by cupcake logos because that was the trend when I was writing this.
Teaching can also be repetitive, but it is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I think there’s a special opportunity when you teach young adults that you don’t get when you teach children. You’re not bound by the constraints of what’s “acceptable” to teach. You can open up their minds to new ideas and help them discover their passions.
That said, being a teacher who critiques her students’ writing makes me hyper-aware of my own writing in a way that can inhibit my ability to get words out. I second-guess every sentence and cringe at every typo.
But I also think it gives me a great connection to a demographic I’m no longer a part of: college students. They are the trendsetters in a lot of ways, so it’s great to be able to know what’s hot in their world. I’ve noticed they are more accepting of LGBT relationships than the generation before them, and that’s part of why I enjoy writing in this genre. Overall though, I’m trying to keep my students out of my writing because there’s a special relationship between and teacher and student that, in my opinion, should have some level of privilege in the same way you would have with a lawyer or therapist.
School starts back up next week, though, and I’m excited to meet a new crop of students. I’m sure there will be some characters in there who may one day see parts of themselves in my writing, but I don’t think I’d ever use their lives as basis for a a plot.
The stifling Florida humidity, however, well that’s fair game. I plan on exploiting that in at least one novel before my writing career is finished because one thing I’m not looking forward to when classes start next week is sweating my face off during the walk from my car to the classroom.
If graphic designer Scott Parker has to design one more cupcake company logo, he might lose it. So when he is tasked with retouching photos for a big fashion client, a stunning, lanky model mesmerizes Scott and occupies his fantasies long after the assignment is finished.
When the model is assigned to one of Scott’s projects, Scott discovers that the object of his desire is nothing like what he imagined. Despite Jamie Donovan’s aloof and dismissive behavior, Scott struggles to forge a friendship with him, all the while trying to keep his attraction at bay.
Will Jamie follow through on signals that he may be interested, or will he forever be the beautiful man in the photograph, an untouchable fantasy?
“Jamie, just make sure you maintain eye contact with the camera,” Scott says. “Direct it all at the lens.” What he means is, take all that anger, desire, passion, frustration, whatever it is that is holding him back, whatever he’s feeling, and channel it into his work. Let it go. He lowers his voice and leans in so only Jamie can hear him. “Direct it all at me if you have to.”
Jamie seems to understand because he nods, his eyes fixed on Scott’s as his breathing picks up, and if it weren’t for the camera and all the lights between them, Scott would swear they’re back outside that bathroom, suspended in the second before Jamie kissed him. Then Jamie locks his gaze on the camera lens three feet from his face, determination apparent in the set of his jaw, and a hushed anticipation settles over them. Jamie blinks twice and relaxes into the posture that Scott instantly recognizes as his model’s stance; he’s ready to go.
Scott smiles and ducks behind the camera, using the viewfinder rather than the digital display. There’s an intimacy in it, seeing Jamie through the focused view of the lens, and Scott is awestruck. It’s like seeing Jamie for the first time, all of his emotions raw and his soul laid bare—and it’s nothing like the pictures Scott used to get off to. This is Jamie the person, the one who is Scott’s friend, not Jamie the model or the insane erotic fantasy that Scott had created around him. In that moment of realization, the shock of Jamie’s beauty shoots through Scott like fireworks—a sharp point of light that erupts into a shower of sparks in his chest. He holds his breath and snaps the shutter. Zach had left it on a rapid-fire setting, so he shoots about ten frames at once, catching the subtle changes in Jamie’s expression.
He glances down at the display; even at only three inches wide, he can tell the shots are what they’re looking for. Scott lifts the camera back up and smiles. “All right, Jamie, let’s try that again, and this time I want you to really take a risk. Try something new and don’t hold back.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A former graphic artist, Carrie Pack turned to her early career experience as the backdrop for her first novel. She lives in Florida with her husband, where she teaches advertising writing at a local college.
Carrie will be awarding a $25 Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Barnes and Noble GC and a print edition of Designs on You (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn host. A free download of an Interlude Press eBook title or an author/book swag pack (US ONLY) will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter at each stop during the tour.