July 6, 2015


(Revised 03/04/2024)

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 character is anything but.

That inspired 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 1940s-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 a 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 a librarian; remembering past consulting work with local quinceanera stores, she became a former actress who gained personal satisfaction working as a librarian.

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 an 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 in tone.  

Thus was born John Brant, aka Ianek Bronotok, a private detective. And yes, I'm more than happy to write more stories - I love hardboiled mysteries. I would love to reenter that world....because there are always more stories to tell.

As of 03/04/2024,  Dreamer's Syndrome: New World Navigation is out of print in both softcover and Kindle. If you can hunt this down, find it. There are some great stories in it, and I'm proud to have been part of this collection. 

You can find this and other works I've written via my Amazon Author Page. Enjoy! 

No comments: