Okay, first of all, because Alice is gone and she didn't get a chance to share, I'm doing it for her. She sent me the new cover for her August 2008 release, BODYGUARD FATHER, and I want you all to see it. If you scroll down, you'll find it in the "coming soon" section as well, just below her July release, which is connected. I love that these two connected books have very similar covers. Isn't it gorgeous?
On to my post...
Speaking of Alice The Great, Wed. night she saved my bacon (yet again...you're da bomb, Alice) and helped me work through a section of my revisions. You see, I LOVE to add in popular culture bits in my books. I think it's fun and that it gives readers a way to connect with the characters on a more "real" level. So I'm always looking for a way to sneak a short reference to pop culture in somewhere.
One of the things my editor asked me to do in revisions for my first book, STOLEN FURY, was beef up a secondary character who ends up being the hero in the next book, STOLEN HEAT. So in a scene I added, this guy's sitting at his desk (he owns an antiquities gallery) reviewing an inventory list of his holdings. He gets to the last page and stops cold because it's a list of all the Egyptian pieces he's collected over the years. You see, years ago, he fell in love with an Egyptologist and she ended up dying and he was partially responsible. Over the years, in his guilt, he's been collecting Egyptian pieces and shoving them in storage. He has no intention of selling them or even looking at them, but even he realizes it's turning into an out of control obsession, and though the goal was to originally feel closer to her, it's taking him farther away.
Now, the pop culture reference came in because as I was writing this, I saw an analogy. Mel Gibson's character in Conspiracy Theory. He couldn't walk past a copy of Catcher in the Rye without buying it. And that's what my hero was doing - in a sense. I considered using that pop culture reference, and mentioned it to Alice. The problem with this, however, is two-fold. One, Conspiracy Theory is an old movie from the 90's. Will many people remember it? if so, does it date me? And two, considering all the flack surrounding Mel Gibson, will the reference to him turn off readers? Of course, I don't want to turn off readers, so that's something to take into consideration.
As it turned out, I think I got the point across without the pop culture reference, so in this case it wasn't needed, but that doesn't mean pop culture references are taboo. I love reading them in books and though some may say you should avoid mentioning them, movies and TV characters live forever. Laura Ingalls Wilder will always have braids as far as I'm concerned and Indiana Jones will always be the sexiest archaeologist I ever saw. In my mind, references don't necessarily date books but give you a way to identify so long as you pick references that span several years and aren't fads that come and go.
In the last scene of the paranormal I just sent my agent, the "mentor" is talking to the hero, who's wavering on his duties and being the man he wants to be vs being the one he's afraid to be. At one point she says to him, "This is your Star Wars moment. Stand up and do what you were born to do." I love this line for two reasons. One, who doesn't love Star Wars, know it and identify with it? And two, this line is particularly touching for me because when I was considering running for president of our chapter, Alice muttered almost the same exact thing to me. So now you all can blame her for my being president ;) But seriously, it did help me decide what I wanted to do, and I will never forget it.
I'm curious. Do you use pop culture references in your books? If so, can you give an example? If not, how come?