Saturday, February 28, 2009
He's taking this vigorous specimen to his doctor because there's something unusual about it. There are buttons and coins embedded in it. Now, it's nothing like that health insurance advert where the patient has money coming out of the wazoo, as the western oriental ER surgeon explained when making one of those predetermination phone calls.
The coins are small change. The doctor's advice about unhealthy midnight snacks is... priceless.
After a thorough rectal exam which brings to light many strange things and leads to some unpalatable conclusions in the mind of our hero, he waddles off to search the internet for clues as to whom he's been eating when the moon is full.
Just when I thought I'd read every dragonish permutation of bad people tasting good (or bad), or good people tasting bad (or good), JA Konrath comes up with a fresh twist.
This story is a riot. I laughed out loud three times in the first three pages. Of course, there are certain bathroom words that will make me laugh out loud. One of them is poop.
The would-be sci-fi writer in me appreciated the elegance of JA Konrath's solution as regards mass. The hero has a mind-boggling telephone conversation with a were-squirrel... who collects nuts... and he asks both questions that spring to mind, much to this reader's delight.
However, I came not to praise J A Konrath, but to talk about craft. Poop is a very good place to start, when one is creating a convincing werewolf. Done right, starting with the scat is an excellent short cut to world-building.
Jacqueline Lichtenberg advises world-builders to start with the sun. But for a short story about a magical being, why not start where the sun don't shine? I'm not a gentle reader. I don't suspend disbelief easily. I'm not programmed to trust my author, no matter how outrageous. Not at first, anyhow.
I can give a turd the benefit of the doubt for several reasons. For a start, the narrator is embarrassed about it. That's believable. He's also frightened. He's not Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs), so he's probably not inclined to put it through a sieve.
If there are bits of teeth, chips of bone, coins, buttons, a crucifix, a clump of dead man's beard... I get the picture. I don't worry about the force of a werewolf's bite, or his stomach capacity, or the inhuman speed of his digestive processes whereby the indigestible evidence of his midnight feast ends up in his morning toilet bowl.
Yes, I do think of these things in passing. I can't help myself. However, it was a good beginning, well built upon by a believable reaction from the werewolf, and an account of a Google search that reminded me of a Tom Clancy novel.
Honesty compels me to say that the story degenerated into heart pounding, action packed farce. The joke went a little too far, and the quality of the research did not keep pace with the increasingly outrageous demands upon my credulity. However, it was a Christmas fairy story, and quite enjoyable.
I'm not going to tell you what "S.A." means, because I had fun guessing.
"S.A." can be found in the anthology "Wolfsbane and Mistletoe"
Sunday, February 15, 2009
It’s been said that inspiration can come from anywhere, if only you pay attention. I can certainly attest to that. You can't plan for it, you can't force it. It comes when it comes. You just have to take advantage when it happens.
One Friday afternoon, while driving home from work, I decided to come up with a catchy name for a character. I didn’t have a character in mind; neither did I have a story. I merely decided that I wanted a catchy character name—along the lines of Luke Skywalker or Indiana Jones—for a future story.
So there I was, driving along, and I passed a breakfast restaurant called the Sunrise Biscuit Company. I thought, “Hmm,
Then I got to thinking about what sort of character would have a name like that. I immediately thought of a private detective. Then I thought “’30s/’40s private dick, gun moll, organized crime.” I decided instead to set the story in the near future, but have him be something of a throwback to the days of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. I actually started writing dialog in my head, hearing Humphrey Bogart speaking the lines.
In the fifteen minutes it took me to reach home, I had the first few scenes outlined in my head. I wasn’t sure whether it would end up being a short story or something longer, and I didn’t really have a story outline, just a premise: a futuristic private detective, with a neural implant to help him, is investigating a series of kidnappings—but I started writing. By Sunday night, I had two chapters written and was well on my way to finishing my third novel.
The resulting 101,000-word novel is called Sunrise Destiny. It'll be available shortly on Amazon.com. And it all came from one word: