Liv Hadden’s book The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame has the style and propulsion of a single issue comic book. Juice Box is a crazy kid whose only friend, the brooding mysterious Shane, has a past that runs them afoul of the Baltimore mob with only Juice Box’s gangster cousin, a female posing as a male, to ask for help. To say any more might ruin some wild surprises.
Liv will be at BookPeople tomorrow, August 8th, at 7 PM, along with Juice Box and Shames’ illustrator (and local tattoo artist) Mo Malone. Hadden was kind enough to answer some questions from us ahead of her event.
MysteryPeople Scott: How did the idea for Juice Box and Shame come about?
Liv Hadden: I was reading a Deadpool comic before bed one night. When I woke up the next morning, I had this vision of Juice Box and Shame (characters from my first novel, In the Mind of Revenge) on the cover of a comic book called The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame. The title is actually a sarcastic thought Shame has in the first book. I was so excited about the idea, I knew I had to make it real.
MPS: Was there any approach to Juice Box’s voice?
LH: I wanted him to contrast Shame in a lot of ways: optimistic, naive, wants to fit in versus cynical, broody, rebels against societal norms. Juice Box also lives a very sheltered life, so he has a level of immaturity I needed to capture. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Thurman Merman from Bad Santa – kind of cute, definitely blind to the main character’s dark side, a bit annoying, but has a heart of gold. Given his interest in becoming a rap musician, I tried to use some of the vernacular we hear in music today. To be completely transparent, I pulled a lot from how I remember my fraternity friends speaking in college. You know, suburban kids throwing around YOLO like a personal mantra – that kind of thing.
MPS: How did Mo Malone get involved as an illustrator?
LH: Mo also happens to be a fantastic tattoo artist. I met her four years ago when I wanted to do a cover up of a piece on my ribs. I loved her and her work so much, I had her cover my entire back. As you can imagine, we spent a lot of time together, so she learned about my writing and I about her art. She mentioned a couple times how she would love to start illustrating books. When I got this idea, I immediately called her. Lucky for me, she said yes!
MPS: While the story is prose it seems to draw from music, movies, and comic books. Where there any specific influences you had while working on it?
LH: I’m influenced by so many different kinds of creativity, it was easy for me to channel some of the things I enjoy into Juice Box’s character. Since a Deadpool comic is what inspired the idea, both the movie and comics played a huge part in the style of the artwork and the informal narrative voice. I’m also a huge J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar fan; even though Juice Box is a poser himself, he would idolize musicians worth their weight; so in my mind, if he were living today, those would be two of his favorites as well. I also referenced Jeff Chang and his dynamic with his father from the movie 21 & Over. When I picture Juice Box, he looks just like Justin Chon, the actor who plays Jeff Chang.
MPS: What appealed to you about using crime fiction to move the story?
LH: Some of my all-time favorite childhood memories were binge watching episodes of Law & Order with my mom. There were so many moments I can remember feeling so absorbed in the storylines, I was experiencing real emotions about all these fake people. To me, that’s what storytelling is all about. I’ve found that crime, mysteries, thrillers, and adventure stories always appeal to me. I love wondering what’s going to happen next, and I especially love a compelling villain. Even better, a story where I’m not so sure who the villain actually is – something that questions the validity of the good versus evil concept. Crime fiction provides so many opportunities to show it’s really all about perspective.
Liv Hadden comes to BookPeople to speak and sign her second novel to feature the character Juicebox, The Adventures of Juicebox and Shame, on Tuesday, August 8th, at 7 PM. You can find copies on our shelves or via bookpeople.com.