Graffiti, Private School, and Finding YA Writing Inspiration

Graffiti, Private School, and Finding YA Writing Inspiration

Posted on February 2 by Colleen Nelson
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Every book I write starts with a personal connection. Blood Brothers was based on a boy I met who lived in a rooming house in a rough part of town with his dad. He’d gotten a scholarship to attend a private school. He spent three hours every day on the bus going to and from school, but he didn’t care. To him, attending the school was the chance to escape from poverty. His privileged classmates had no idea what his home life was like. Unlike the boy I know, Jakub doesn’t leave willingly. It is his dad who pushes him to leave his best friend, family, and neighbourhood because he knows it is the only way his son will be able to go forward.

My character Jakub can’t leave behind one part of his identity — his graffiti writing. Graffiti is his way of expressing his frustrations about his life. Learning about graffiti sub-culture and what compels someone to write was intriguing. While some graffiti (like tagging) is vandalism, there are also true artists who make social statements with their work. I learned a lot about graffiti by watching documentaries like ‘Kings and Toys’ (on Youtube) and reading blogs. The Graffiti Gallery in Winnipeg proved useful in my research. I really loved seeing the outreach they do for at-risk kids who benefit from an artistic outlet. 

watch the book trailer for blood brothers