Two years and one day ago, on my 21st birthday, my little sister Emma, as a present for me, drew me the coolest sketches of a bunch of the characters in my book, Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga. At the time, my novel was basically just a second draft--waaay far removed from publication--and so those drawings were the first real, actual glimpse I got into my story's potential as something that wouldn't just be living inside my brain for eternity.
Now, 732 days later, and with my book coming out in 312 days (!), I thought it'd be fun to post these pictures, both as a way of introducing you guys to a few of my characters, and as a tribute to the raddest non-Handerpants or Finger Narwhals birthday gift that I've ever received. Thanks again, Ems, and here they are!
Group shot! Look at those tiny faces. Aren't they great? I'm always amazed by Emma's artistic skill, particularly the little head circle sketches she uses to make her drawings look just like real animator cartoons (though she assures me that that's by far the least impressive aspect of her art). Okay, now let's look at the characters individually.
We'll start with the story's four main characters/narrators. This is Jake Schwartz, an awkward bar mitzvah boy, and, not to spoiler alert or anything, but a potential victim of a certain title-inspiring trash can dumping. Also...um...does he look at all familiar to you?
Danny Uribe is, at least initially, Jake's loyal best friend. He is the son of the Jake's family's maid and gardener, as well as a resident in the Schwartz's massive mansion. At the same time, he is the cousin to several kids over on the not-so-rich part of town--the Eastside--and some of those kids are, as the book begins, getting involved in gangs. As such, Danny is caught between two worlds. Also, one other thing about Mr. Uribe -- he's pretty appealing to the ladyfolk, and one young lady in particular...
Hannah Schwartz is Jake's older, eighth grade, sister. She is the preeminent queen bee/social butterfly at San Paulo Junior High. She also writes a savage gossip blog which causes every junior high kid to live in fear of her. Writing from the perspective of a catty, popular middle school girl was shockingly enjoyable for me. I'm pretty sure I was one in another life.
Dorothy Wu, the last of my four narrators, is a social outsider, a fan fiction enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed "warrior mermaid maiden." She is constantly doing two things: 1.) writing bizarre, fanciful stories about princesses/ogres/Poseidon/STD-breathing dragons, and 2.) falling in love. Reader, I hope and trust that you'll have fun with her.
Now here are some of my supporting characters. First off, we've got Jake, Danny, and Dorothy's English teacher, Mr. Morales. He is the faculty advisor for the school's writing club, as well as the author of a trying-to-get-kids-to-learn rap entitled, "Nuthin' but a Grammar Thang." Also: my sister claims that her drawing of Mr. Morales makes him look a lot like Dave Seville from "Alvin & the Chipmunks." I cannot disagree.
This is Guillermo Torres. He is infamous for being a gang leader and he is even more infamous for his unibrow. I feel like lots of the things I could say about him would be spoilers, so I'll hold off.
Eighth grade heartthrob Chad Beck is described by Hannah as having "every hot guy element mixed together into one perfect package...the cute surfer/skater look, the sandy hair, the gorgeous green-blue eyes, [and] the butt to end all butts." Yipe! Even I've got a crush! (I'm sure he's got a great personality, too...but um...oh, I guess Hannah didn't mention anything about that...hmm.)
Luz Vasquez and Chicle Rodriquez are a lot like Hannah in terms of their gossip-mongering, but they're much, much more ruthless--as Hannah may one day find out... (Oh, and as you can see in the drawing, Chicle really likes gum. Hence her name.)
Finally, here are three more middle school ensemble characters. Whitney Dealy is the dictionary definition of a horse girl. Nisha Patel is San Paulo's overachieving-yet-affable ASB President. Creepy Tyler doesn't need to be explained beyond that.
Well, there they are! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any more questions about these characters, and pester my sister Emma @EmSteinkellner if you want more beautiful, beautiful fan art! And have a pleasant (but somehow lacking) 312 days until my book comes out!