Vernon Stagg was born from a bad book.
A manuscript actually, mine sadly, and fortunately for us all I abandoned it before the querying stage. This was 2011, early yet for me into This Whole Writing Thing. The manuscript was a sort of Westlake-ian, Hiaasen-ian lovechild romp, and no matter what I did, it came out low on cohesion but high on character.
Such as somewhere in Part Two, when one of the baddies, a gold-digger who can’t believe her luck–or abide her fiancé’s creepy attachment–needs a lawyer on her side. The chapter opens with her asking for help busting a prenup, and suddenly this Vernon character Continue reading “Behind: “The Cumberland Package””
First things first: the proceeds from Bouchercon’s Murder Under the Oaks go to the Wake Country Public Libraries. And folks, reading is cool.
In November 2013, thieves broke into a Modesto, CA orchard and made off with 140,000 pounds–70 tons–of in-shell walnuts. In February 2012, a shade to the north, 40,000ish tons of walnuts went missing from a Butte County processing plant. In October 2012, twin thefts near Sacramento, shall we say, bagged 82,000 pounds of walnuts. Investigators were hunting for suspects with Russian accents.
Nut theft is a thing.
Grinning a bit? Me too when I stumbled on the headlines. But the reason why? The root of all evil: an across-the-nut spike to record prices. That 70-ton walnut job? The take had a wholesale value of $400,000.
I said to myself, “I must write this.”
And you know what? I didn’t. Couldn’t. Not for a year. All I had was Continue reading “Behind: “Crack-up at Waycross””
If you were around a century or so ago, and you knew him well, you might call him Bill. On a legal document, William Sidney Porter. If you read any of his 300+ published stories, you knew him by his pen name: O. Henry. The name now commands a prestigious short story award, but more than anything, his work effectively trademarked a device: The twist ending, the literary tie that binds. When you or I try it, the reader calls it an O. Henry twist.
I don’t set out to write twist endings, although it is known to happen. I go for resonance, a finish that hopefully keep the reader’s creative chords humming. With “First Rodeo” I started Continue reading “Behind: “First Rodeo””
Southern lit. Family conflict. Race and social issues. Push-pull of tradition. Sense of belonging to place, like it or not.
I don’t write it.
Or at least I hadn’t until earlier this year. So it’s a thrill that my “Dark Days for the Professor” has been included in NWMG’s Southern lit anthology Not So Fast.
So I don’t write Southern–themes generally or voice specifically–but I’m immersed in the South. And oddball humor? I am to oddball humor what cats are to my couch: hairy and all over it.
I thought about this one a long while. For me, good Southern lit says something. Stuff gets real. Real real, no magic wind or giant bateau mouche. My first challenge was Continue reading “Behind: “Dark Days for the Professor””