Guest Post: “The Familiars” by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson
By Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: August 9, 2010
“Archimedes did it in the bathtub, we do it in the shower”
ADAM JAY EPSTEIN spent his childhood in Great Neck, New York, while ANDREW JACOBSON grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but the two met in a parking garage out in Los Angeles. They have been writing for film and television together ever since. The Familiars is their first book.
One day, Adam asked Andrew, “Are you familiar with what a familiar is?” And from that simple question, Vastia was born, a fantastical world filled with the authors’ shared love of animals and magic. They wrote every word, sentence, and page together, sitting opposite each other.
Adam Jay Epstein lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jane, their daughters, Penny and Olive, and a black-and-white alley cat who hangs out in their backyard. Andrew Jacobson lives with his wife, Ashley, and their dog, Elvis, four traffic lights away.
When faced with the blank computer screen, why is it that sometimes the light goes on in our heads with the proverbial “aha” moment, and other times it’s nothing but tumbleweed? Archimedes, the Greek mathematician and inventor, is said to have shouted “Eureka” upon jumping out of his bathtub after discovering how to calculate whether or not his king’s crown was really pure gold: by measuring how much water it displaces. Thousands of years later, the exclamation can be applied to Einstein’s theory of relativity, Newton discovering gravity, or M. Night Shymalan coming up with the twist ending of The Sixth Sense. The question is, can we train our brains to be more open to these Eureka moments, or is that simply a neurological impossibility?
If you want your own Eureka moment, whatever you do, don’t be actively looking for it. Like a lonely single desperately searching for a mate, oft times the best chance of finding someone is by not looking at all. You can spend all day sitting in front of your computer or a pad of paper struggling to find a great idea, but nine times out of ten the real inspiration will hit you when you’re in the shower or right before you fall asleep.
Here are three techniques that we use to come up with ideas.
1. Keep a notebook next to your bed, in the car, and in the bathroom. This is the Holy Trinity. The three places where inspiration strikes with the greatest frequency and often the best results. Whether you’re starting to doze or just zoning out in mid-day traffic, it seems like these moments of Zen are some of the most consistent idea incubators we’ve come across.
2. Take a walk. This is one of our favorite times to think. Like John Adams or Benjamin Franklin taking their morning Constitutional, there’s something about being outside at peace with nature that allows great ideas to flourish. If you are feeling mentally stagnant, a nice long walk can do wonders for getting the creative juices flowing.
3. Take a shower. We’re serious. It’s like your very own Fortress of Solitude. All your pain and problems go away for those ten minutes, and just maybe, you walk out with your next book idea.
Pre-order a copy of the book: The Familiars