Monday, December 8, 2008

What's New Pussycat? The Hazards of Playing Tom Jones

It started out as a joke, partially inspired by his appearance in Mars Attacks and partially because of the whole grinding hip male crooner mystique, and because my mother always liked him. If you knew my mother you would know how amusing this is because she is not like other mothers and raised in the era of the Beatles she always considered it a guilty secret.

I'm talking about my role-playing collaborative writing that I do with the character of Welsh singer Tom Jones. What appealed to me was to take him and plonk him down somewhere else besides his natural milieu and so I thrust him first into a weird science fiction novel where people were ripped out of time and place to find themselves on an empty planet. It was a good opportunity for us all to take our characters and challenge them by removing them from their natural habitat. After a while I lost my direction in that novel (what we call a writing group at Pan Historia) and so I yanked poor Tom out of there and into an even more challenging setting: a zombie infested U.S. of A. While playing in Las Vegas the zombie plague hits and Tom is running for his life.

It's been great sport.

What is really challenging conceptually about the writing is not only that he is a real person (hence it requires a little research and I have to play his music just to get into the mood), but because as soon as people see his name and likeness they have preconceived notions of who he is and what he's going to be like.

In all fairness to the real Tom Jones I'm quite sure my bloke is nothing like him, no matter how much I research the sing song cadence of the Welsh accent, or check into his interviews on his interesting relationship with his wife. Of course being in a post-apocalyptic landscape does make it hard for him to do the things that he's best known for: singing and getting panties thrown at him.

That's where Clementine Proulx came in - his biggest fan, and one who miraculously survives zombies feasting on her mother by hiding in the pantry. The writer behind Clementine Proulx is phenomenally talented and I'm hoping to get her to guest on this blog.

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