In IQ, Ide introduces Isaiah Quintabe, an inner-city prodigy with Sherlockian powers of deduction.
Where did your concept come from?
I was a burned-out screenwriter. I had to make a living and writing a book seemed like the logical thing to do. As a kid, my favorite books were the original Sherlock Holmes stories. I was fascinated with the character. Like me, he was an introvert who didn’t fit in, but unlike me, he defeated his enemies and controlled his world, and he did it with only the power of his intelligence. I was a small kid in a big neighborhood, and that idea affected me deeply. When contemplating the book, a Sherlockian character was the only thing that occurred to me. I grew up in South Central L.A., so the inner city was comfortable terrain and Sherlock in the hood was born.
How hard was it to develop plausible Sherlockian deductions for Isaiah?
It was very hard. It took me weeks to work them out. I usually started at the end point—what was the conclusion I wanted Isaiah to reach? Then I worked backwards, figuring out a chain of revelations that would eventually lead him there. It might have been easier if I were a logical person in real life, but I spend so much time inside my head, the real world eludes me more times than not. I’m notoriously bad at going step by step or following a diagram. There’s a saying in my family that goes: “If your plane crashes in the Amazon, and you needed to survive? Joe is the one that you’d kill and eat.”
How was writing IQ different from writing a screenplay?
A background in screenwriting was helpful, but only to an extent. My first attempts were terrible, which was both startling and mortifying. Writing the book was also very freeing. I could write anything I wanted for however many pages I felt like writing. I could build a character, alter him or cut him out completely. I could go off on tangents I thought were interesting. The characters could make long speeches or not speak at all. I could play with language. I could write without a producer or studio exec looking over my shoulder. I learned to love writing again.
What misconceptions about South Central do most people have?
That all of South Central is economically depressed and that the people are either poor, dangerous, or both. Most of the area is comprised of ordinary working-class neighborhoods populated with ordinary blue-collar folks who go to work every day, care for their children, don’t have criminal records, and live peaceable, productive lives.