Friday, December 14, 2012

Standing at the Crossroads

In this week’s post I’m going to tackle two tasks.  I promised my good friend Gar Anthony Haywood over at the lovely Murderati blog I’d answer some specific questions passed onto him by fellow writer Naomi Hirahara as part of the “The Next Big Thing” blog-chain.  So I’ll do that at the end of this post while initially tackling the current question here on Criminal Minds.  But hey, it’s all about the writing, so it’s all good:
In my recent novel, Warlord of Willow Ridge, I arrived at a couple of different crossroads in the course of writing the novel.  It was always about this guy, this career criminal, no longer a kid, who finds himself as the book open at this down-at-its-heels planned sub-division.  He stays, squatting in a house that is underwater, where the owner walked away from the mortgage that was burying him.  Yet as I progressed, despite what I’d written in my outline, I felt there was another way to go.  This because once you’ve lived with your characters, had them interact on the page and in your mind, they had a presence I couldn’t ignore.
There are times new aspects are revealed to me in the process jjst by how the dialogue flows.  For instance there’s a character in the book who is well-off and leases a private helicopter he flies himself.  That’s fairly ordinary to an extent.  But, and this only occurred to me about 3/4 into completing the draft, what if this same character had a fear of flying in planes but could handle being in a chopper?  For him it’s an issue of control, being at the helm and all that.  I didn’t know this psychological trait detailed in my outline or my mental mini-bio about this guy, but it was after so many pages that the notion hit me.  That if I took this guy in that direction, that kind of underpinning to him, then that told me how to go back into the book and nuance previous passages I had with this character.

And speaking of characters -- how’s that for a segue? -- that brings me to my short and hopefully sweet answers to “The Next Big Thing” questions.
The working title of my next book is The Essex Man

Where did the idea come from? -- The idea it’s the first in a e-book then eventually print action-adventure novella series – check out this piece by Keith Rawson on the new output of e-book pulp.

The genre -- The genre of the book is action-adventure but not ignoring the need to have dimensional, grounded characters.

What actors to play my characters -- I’ll get back to you on that one.

The one sentence synopsis is “Millionaire philanthropist Luke Warfield rights wrongs to redeem a past steeped in blood and failure.”

Self-published or rep’d by an agency? -- The book is from a small but social media savvy imprint.  I rep’d it myself as the young man who runs the outfit comes out of the hip-hop music biz and is a cool cat – how’s that for dating me?

As this is a novella of 25,000 words, it took me about a month and half to write and edit the work.

What other books would you compare this story to? -- This Essex Man riffs on those wild paperback vigilante series of the ‘70s like The Executioner, The Destroyer, et al. but infused with modern sensibilities.

I was inspired to write this book because I’ve always wanted to riff on the vigilant sub-genre and the e-book format, as mentioned previously, is perfect for that.  The new age of pulp as it were.

What else about the book might pique readers’ interest? --  I hope that fans of this kind of story will dig it as well as those who want more complexity to their characters and also providing a hero – in this case an African American – not often seen in this type of fiction.  And for the political crowd, there’s some elements of that in the Essex Man as well.

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