Of all of the characters who exist in BAND GEEK, the one who's the most like a real-life person is Melinda's best friend, Lana.
True, Mel is based a bit on me, but we're also very different. She's edgier and willing to break rules when pushed to it. I'm well... not. That's what made writing her so much fun; she ended up doing things that I never would've done as a teen.
Lana, however, is an homage to my real-life childhood friend, Lani. Lani is a year older than me, but I've literally known her since birth. Her family lived across the street from mine (still do, in fact) so my parents used to have us play togther as babies. They figured that if Infant Me played with One-Year-Old Lani, she'd be a good influence since she was ahead in skills. I did learn to read ar a very early age so perhaps their strategy worked.
Lani has two siblings who are much older and I'm an only child, so we grew up like sisters. She'd sometimes sleep over at our house for days at a time. Other times, we'd fight like siblings. She used to drag me around the floor by my hair. I once tied her up with a jumprope and pushed her down the stairs. Good times!
Lani has always been very outgoing and knew how to charm adults. My mom loved her because she'd VOLUNTEER to help clean the house. She could -- and still does -- make friends with anyone. She met her first boyfriend when she was 13 and dated steadily until she got married. She often got into trouble for being mischevious in school.
I was the opposite. I was shy, quiet and studious. I wasn't the life of the party. Yet we remained friends.
When we were younger, we mainly hung out with the neighborhood kids, but as we got older, we fell into separate crowds. Lani was fairly popular and loved high school. She had steady boyfriends and, as far as I know, never felt like an outsider. I had a group of nice friends, but I didn't date much and saw myself as a dork. High school was mixed for me.
She and I went through a brief period where we didn't hang out too much. This was during my junior and her senior year. Lani was busy with her boyfriend and large group of buddies. I was busy with my Positive Image Club (yes, this was really the name of the organization) pals. I figured that we were growing apart; after all, that happens when people grow up, but once she entered college, we grew close again. She had a car and I didn't yet have a license so during my senior year, she'd drive us to the movies every weekend.
Now that we're adults, we're closer than ever. We don't see each other as often as I'd like but we were in each other's wedding parties and traveled to London, Mexico and Puerto Rico together. She's still way more outgoing than I am, but always supports me. She's also really honest with me when the situation calls for it.
When writing Lana, I tried to capture Lani's loyalty, goodness and off-beat sense of humor. I didn't want Lana to be just a sidekick; she has passions, interests and problems and stands up to Mel when need be. I think I did a pretty good job in creating a literary version of Lani because Lani -- without having yet read the book -- made the exact same joke as Lana in real life. Spooky, but cool!
BAND GEEK is about so much more than Mel's revenge scheme or even her romance with Josh. It's about her relationships with everyone in her life and how they help her grow as a person. Lani certainly influenced my life and Lana does the same for my narrator.
Here we are on May 15, 1992 when Lani came to see me off before my prom. That's me on the left in the white gown and Lani on the right. Gotta love the hair!
Please read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.