July 6, 2015


When you've experienced a prolonged period of unemployment like I have, you gain a thick skin...because most people aren't as sensitive as you are.

(And when I say "you are", I mean "I am.").

Comments about how people don't "work hard enough" to get work, or even well-meaning comments that seem to cut to the bone...it's hard to deal with a tough, hard-boiled world when my personal character is anything but.

That provided the inspiration for my story When Angels Fall in Space Buggy Press' anthology Dreamer's Syndrome: New World Navigation. Having met Mark Bousquet (my editor) via the Better in the Dark Facebook group and his blog, I loved the premise of Dreamer's Syndrome: what happens if you wake up dressed like your childhood dream job? So my idea was simple: what if someone who read Sherlock Holmes as a ten-year old found himself dressed up as a Victorian consulting detective?

One snag - the guidelines made no mention of England, but suggested a psychic geography for the United States. (The East Coast featured superheroes, the Pacific Northwest was a fantasy forest, etc). Noticing that Los Angeles (a city I had visited twice in my youth) was a 1940's-style landscape, and reading Robert Leslie Bellem's Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective stories at the time, it became much easier to flip the premise to a hard boiled detective.

It was also a great opportunity to flesh out the Los Angeles of the Dreamer's Syndrome universe. Angels became the cops - inscrutable, hidden, and mistrusted by the general populace. (With an added bonus of misunderstanding humans: angels consider themselves "divine constructs" whose enforcement arm is called the "Celestial Brigade"). An early draft featured a faded child beauty pageant queen as librarian; remembering past consulting work with local quinceaneara stores, she became a former actress who gained personal satisfaction working as a librarian.

In fact, aspects of my personal life influenced the book....including my lead character's name. A friend served as a model for Shawn, the former junkie turned cartoon bear who serves as informant. (And yes, you read that last sentence correctly). My Jesuit education allowed me to permeate the story with some subtle (and not-so-subtle) nods....but in naming my lead character, I wanted something that sounded appropriately hard-boiled. Working on a skit for episode 250 of Zone 4 helped, as I kept reading over what cast members had which parts.

Thus was born John Brant, aka Ianek Bronotok, private detective. And yes, I'm more than happy to write more stories - I love the hardboiled mystery genre, and wouldn't mind heading back into that world....because there's always more stories to tell.

So please, purchase a copy of Dreamer's Syndrome: New World Navigation - it's available on either Kindle or as a softcover. (Drop me a private note, and I'm more than happy to connect you with Mark for a review copy). It's one of my better stories, and quite honestly, contains one of the best lines I've ever written.

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