I’m often asked if Blossom Uxley-Michaels (the main character in Weirdos vs. Quimboids and Weirdos vs. Bumskulls) is based on me. The truth is – she started out as an exaggerated caricature of my awkward and insecure teenage self. Then she sort of evolved into the teenager I would have liked to have been. She’s much more confident in herself than I ever was and has a wonderfully pragmatic outlook on life that makes her world seem a lot less complex than mine was. Oh how I envy her!
Like Blossom, I was never part of the in-crowd, I was much more of an ‘outsider’ but I desperately wanted to be cool. I think this was reflected in my reading preferences at that time in my life as I actively searched for literary misfits to identify with. I love S.E. Hinton’s book The Outsiders so much that I’ve actually referenced it in Weirdos vs. Quimboids. The intense friendships between angry, troubled teenagers made total sense to me as a fourteen year old and the main character Ponyboy sort of made me feel normal (even if he did have the worst name EVER). Then of course there was The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾. If truth be told, Adrian Mole was my first literary crush (if you don’t count the boy with the moustache on the cover of ‘All Night Long’ from the Sweet Valley High series. He might have been just a drawing but he was still ridiculously HOT!). There’s something about Adrian’s naively subversive nature that still makes me go all melty, even though he’s a total idiot.
At school we were lucky enough to study Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock as part of our GCSE syllabus, a book that I have since read over and over again. Pinkie’s disconcerting and menacing presence made me feel uncomfortable as a young reader, but I was still fascinated by him. I have on a few occasions since, wondered what might happen if Pinkie and Adrian Mole were to meet in person (I know I should get out more). I’ve run the scenario around my head a couple of times and I like to think that Adrian would triumph in a fight on account of boring Pinkie into submission with the numerous health and safety risks of keeping a bottle of vitriol and a razor blade in his coat pocket.
Those are just three of the many books about social outsiders that made an impact on me as a teenager. Throughout the Weirdos books, I’ve included a number of little nods towards these literary misfit characters (and others) purely for my own amusement. Not many people seem to have noticed them. If you spot any yourself, please tweet me to let me know at @tashdesborough.
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