Monday, July 29, 2013

Something Awesome

By Reece Hirsch

I’m going to opt to answer last week’s question:  “If I were banned from my current corner of the mystery genre (or the mystery genre entirely), what would I be writing?”

I’ve always had a soft spot for Ray Bradbury.   He was one of the first authors that I truly and deeply loved as a kid, and my first attempts at writing fiction for the high school literary magazine were faux-Bradbury.  If I were banned from writing my current genre (thrillers), I would probably retrace my steps and see if I could write a better version of the Bradbury-influenced combination of fantasy, science fiction and horror that I started out writing in my teens.  I suppose that plot of literary ground currently belongs to writers like Neil Gaiman.

Have you ever had a book that loomed so large in your childhood imagination that you were almost afraid to reread it?  For me, that book is Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”  My parents both grew up in the dying former railroad town of Marceline, Missouri, boyhood home to Walt Disney.  We went back to visit every summer and I always associated the place with Bradbury’s Green Town, Illinois.  At the time, I hated those trips and preferred to keep my nose stuck in a book as much as possible, preferably one of Bradbury’s.  Like Green Town, Marceline was gazebo-in-the-town-square perfect, but there was also something rotting underneath.

Even after all of these years, there are images from “Something Wicked” that remain so vivid for me.  Like the opening scene when the lightning rod salesman wanders into town on a cloudy, late-October day (it’s always October in Bradbury land) and encounters the book’s two 12-year-old protagonists, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway.  And what a nicely ominous first sentence:  “The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm.”

Then there’s the scene where Jim and Will watch from a hillside as the train bearing Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show rolls hellishly into town.  I’m confident that no young person who has read “Something Wicked” has held on to any fantasies of running away to join the circus.  Carny people were never creepier – and carny people are pretty creepy to begin with.

As I write this, I realize that I can no longer resist rereading “Something Wicked.”  I know I’ll never be able to recreate the mind-blowing magic of the reading experience I had as a teenager, but if I can recapture just a few of those sparks then the trip will be worth it.  It’s hard for any book to live up to those sorts of expectations, but I’m hopeful.  Wish me luck.

Do you have a childhood book that you hesitate to revisit?

By the way, the first episode of my new book THE ADVERSARY will be out on August 6 as a Kindle Serial, a release more anticipated than the Royal Baby (in my house, anyway).  I’m conducting a giveaway of a Kindle Paperwhite 3G ereader for those who pre-order the book by August 5.  For more details, check out this Goodreads page:

No comments: