Eric DelaBarre is the contributor for this week’s Take Five, a semi-weekly series where we ask authors to share five facts about their latest books. DelaBarre is an award winning filmmaker, speaker and author who began his career with Universal Studios on NBC’s mega-hit drama, Law & Order. His work has been sold around the world and showcased on HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz/Encore, USA Networks, and NBC. He is the author of Why Not: Start Living Your Life Today and past president of the Boys & Girls Club Council of Santa Monica. He lives and works in Santa Monica, California with his wife, Julie and is an avid mountain biker. DelaBarre’s latest book is Saltwater Taffy:
“Set in the seaside town of Port Townsend, Washington, Saltwater Taffy follows the lives of five friends as they uncover a treasure map that once belonged to the ruthless New Orleans pirate, Jean Lafitte. The discovery thrusts them from one treasure hunting adventure to the next as they try to out-wit, out-think and out-maneuver everyone from a one-legged junk yard man and an overbearing town bully, to the creepy old man living at the top of the hill. Saltwater Taffy is a race to the finish adventure that will capture your heart, again and again!”
1. The idea for Saltwater Taffy is based on a screenplay I wrote while working on the NBC hit drama Law & Order way back in 1996. I guess you could say Saltwater Taffy was my guilty pleasure because the stories on Law & Order often weigh heavy on your creative spirit. When I would spend all of my creative time inside the mind of a killer or those who try to put him/her behind bars, the world of fantasy and fiction is a perfect escape. Sure, murder mysteries have been around forever, but they are a thing of the past for me. Some might call this bucking the trend because the airwaves are filled with Law & Order and other CSI types, but for me, I am no longer interested in the perpetuation of murder as ‘entertainment,’ especially when we’re talking about children. I think this is why the transition into the world of fiction felt so natural. I wrote Saltwater Taffy in three months, which is quite fast for an 85,000 word novel.
2. Saltwater Taffy is loosely based on my childhood adventures. To say my brother and I caused trouble growing up would be an understatement. We were never bored. Everything was turned into a game of some sort or another. Who would have thought throwing bologna on your kitchen ceiling would be so much fun.
3. The reason Saltwater Taffy is set in 1972 and not present day is because I think present day is in trouble. As technology connects us with faster speed, our disconnection to each other grows. Children rarely play outside and choose to reside indoors with video games and the internet. As a result, our waistlines are growing but our reading level and overall education is shrinking. To imagine we are #25 in the world for education is a crime. Through marketing, children are losing their individual spirit.
4. When I saw a film called Sleepers, I instantly fell in love with the first ten minutes. While this was merely set-up so Hollywood heavyweight actors Brad Pitt, Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Kevin Bacon, Jason Patrick could take over, the first 15 minutes of the movie was pure ‘coming of age’ fun. It was at this moment I knew I wanted to be in the world. Saltwater Taffy was written as a novel so I could one day make the movie. The movie business has changed so much in the last ten years that you are now required to pre-brand EVERYTHING. If you don’t have a “platform” of followers on line through social media, you are behind the times. To me, this is a great thing because ANYONE can be a filmmaker today. Back when I first started, making a movie was a monumental thing. Today you can shoot a feature on an iPhone! Don’t wait for persmission…go out today and create something and post it on YouTube. After that? Guess what! You’re a filmmaker. It’s that easy.
5. The idea for the treasure hunt in the story came to me in a dream. During my “tweenage” years, I would have dreams of finding buried treasure. Reading Treasure Island a million times might have had something to do with that, but finding treasure is a fantasy of every kid. This is when the work really began. I had to find a smart way of unfolding the treasure but not giving it away. Writing detective stories on Law & Order really helped with that because the secret to that show is to know where you want to end up, not where you want to begin. You find out the ending and you work backwards. It’s like a giant puzzle and this is what led me to cipher texts. With heavy dose of creative thinking, I was able to create the ciphers in the Saltwater Taffy story so the characters didn’t find the treasure too fast or too easily. That is what creativity is truly about…finding a way, but not an easy way. Easy ways are for lazy writers.