Like Fat Kid Rules the World, the idea for Saint Iggy originated with the first sentence, which came to me whole and suggested a voice and character that was too compelling to resist.
Iggy seemed to me a great anti-hero type of character. I was tired of reading so many YA novels where the main character is “artsy” and “quiet and mousy”, and they “escape into books” and learn about the world through “making an awesome video or photography project”. In so many ways, authors create and idealize themselves in character form, but so many kids are not like that. Iggy had a camera once, but he stole it, and then he broke it. He’s not really talented at anything and he hates the kid at school who writes all the cool poems. But he does see the world in a way no one else can.
I also wanted to explore the ambiguity of life. There’s almost nothing black or white in this book. Always shades of gray. Iggy makes the “wrong” choices for the “right” reasons and the “right” choices for the “wrong” reasons.
Setting the story in the projects seemed like an ideal choice because I spent part of my volunteer years with Mennonite Central Committee working and living in one of the New Orleans housing projects before it was demolished and then flooded. What I learned was that poverty clouds many issues that those of us privileged enough to live in wealth would judge from the outside as clear-cut. But if we were poor and living day by day, we’d find the world of morality is suddenly much more subjective than we thought it was.
This is Iggy’s world.