A Look at Lafayette from One of His Characters:
Hey, this is Gabe Browning, protagonist of Lafayette Wattles’ YA novel, Mr. Bones. I know what you’re thinking: if I’m the main character, why isn’t the novel called Gabe. Don’t even get me started. But I’m not here to talk about me, I’m here to tell you a little about Lafayette.
Some people are born writers. Lafayette Wattles was, well, NOT!
I mean, he was born, trust me. I’ve seen the paperwork. But, like most things in his life, he started writing kind of late.
Of course, he didn’t even start reading until he was twenty-six, so what do you expect? Ever since, though, he’s been trying to get people to realize how amazing books can be so they don’t miss out the way he did. And one of the ways he’s trying to do that is by writing some novels (okay, okay, and some poetry) of his own. Two of those novels are close to being done, so keep watch (you know, since one of them is about yours truly). But that’s Lafayette Wattles right now. How he got here, that’s another story.
Ever since he was a teen, Lafayette’s had a soft spot for misfits, for people who just don’t seem to fit in. People like me. Maybe it’s because he sees things in them (in us) that other people sometimes overlook and he especially enjoys getting those other people to notice, to slow down long enough to give someone who’s not like them a chance.
To him, that’s what writing’s all about. Having an opportunity to show another side of something, or someone. To give the outcast a voice even if he doesn’t name all his novels after us. Apparently he can thank some of his fellow middle school classmates for his appreciation for being different. He changed schools in fifth grade and I guess you could say he spent the next four years adjusting his perception about a lot of things. By the time he got to high school he was keeping an eye out for anyone who was being mistreated for being different. He heard Jacqueline Woodson once say that writers tend to write about the period of time they’re stuck in, the one they’re still trying to work through, so that explains why Lafayette does what he does. He’s trying to get people to see all the wonderful things those awkward, dorky, not-so-cool kids have to offer.
Of course, his real name’s Dave DeGolyer. He’s been a lot of places, has degrees in English Literature and Education and Writing, among others, and he’s had a variety of jobs from working in factories and a bank, to selling women’s shoes and men’s clothing, to being a teacher and a coach and a communications manager for the tourism industry. He even has special training as a yoga teacher, and in something called Yoga As Muse which he uses to help writers and other people tap into their creative side. Mostly, he’s a writer which is why he’s using the name Lafayette Wattles and the feather as symbols of this new adventure he’s on and also of his Native American heritage.
Did you know Lafayette’s first love was basketball? Yep. I’ve never played basketball. Mostly because I’m 3’7” and weigh 35 pounds. I’m a dwarf. You know, a “little person.” Lafayette, on the other hand is six-foot tall and weighs about 185 pounds. From what I hear, he’s not very fast, he only managed to dunk one time in his entire life, and he grew up with lungs that just didn’t work right. Not what you’d expect from a basketball prodigy (which is probably why he wasn’t one). He wasn’t any kind of prodigy, unless being empathetic counts. Supposedly, he’s going to write every so often in his blog about the way basketball played an important role in his life, only not the way he’d hoped it would as a boy.
I guess he spent more time in hospitals than I did, but we’ve both spent about the same amount of time in cemeteries, just for way different reasons. That’s probably my favorite place on the planet, even though I go there because of the worst thing that ever happened to me. As a boy, Lafayette played in the cemetery down the street from his house. That was back when he was having all sorts of adventures. These days, he likes to run in cemeteries, especially the one in his childhood hometown where famous people like Mark Twain and John Jones and Ernie Davis are buried.
You could say Lafayette had a pretty serious fear of death when he was a kid (and a teenager). Mostly because of all the time he spent in hospitals having a tough time, you know, trying not to die. And you could say his novels are a little dark, sometimes, like Mr. Bones for example, but he has a sense of humor and he’s always trying to balance things out by making people laugh. That’s sort of my job, I think. I mean, it’s not like I get paid or anything.
Lafayette didn’t start writing until about ten years ago. I was only four back then. He was a lot older, but it took him that long to figure out the thing he wanted to do more than anything else. Mr. Bones likes to say, “It’s a whole damn sight better just being you, even if you don’t get it all the way right, than it is getting it all the way right being someone you ain’t.” I guess, for a long time, Lafayette was off being someone he wasn’t. But now he’s finally figured out what it’s like being the person he is and he loves it.
Anyway, you can learn a lot more about him by reading his blog, Write Side Up, and his books once they come out, since a little bit of him is in all of them.