November 17, 2015

Where Stories Come from: MOOSE & SKWIRL

(Revised 03/05/2024)

As I stated last week, my short story "All Roads Lead to Rome" in Pro Se Productions' The Adventures of Moose & Skwirl isn't just notable because it's another published work....but it's my first pitched-and-published work.

Let's go back to approximately late 2013/early 2014 - I'm in the midst of job seeking/freelance seeking, and I need something to take my mind off of things. Projects to keep me busy. Idle hands and whatnot.

So I began looking at Pro Se Productions' website...especially the open call for new writers. I knew Tommy Hancock very casually (mostly some back-and-forth via Facebook groups), and felt like it was time to begin a fiction-writing career in earnest.

When it came to choosing my first solicitation, I loved the description of Moose & Skwirl, which made it seem like Sapphire & Steel with more action and violence.

(And if you've ever watched Sapphire & Steel...yes, it could use a little more action in places).

The spine of the story was easy - I found an old Doctor Who/Dark Shadows fanfic that dealt with the main story theme. (Yes, I did type that out loud). Thinking that "parallel world gone wrong" made a great story idea, I then realized that I could pull on my knowledge as a Roman history buff (including a working knowledge of Latin) to fill out the details...

....and I learned the first lesson of writing my first draft: anything worth losing is best cut. Taking my lead from Mort Abrams in Behind the Planet of the Apes, I realized that I had too many elements - for example, my parallel Rome had touchpads coexisting with manual typewriters, and a stray line about how "even the rules of magic are different here."

If you read the story, you won't find either....or a gladiator named Bestiarius. The name threw off the rhythm of the story, and so he became Phaedrus. An ending scene written to fill out the word count became part of the overall plot. And I was able to figure out how to fix a parallel timeline without relying on "going back and fixing the mistake in the first place." And then, contracts were signed, bodies were buried....and the wait began.

(Although it was written after Moose & Skwirl, my story in Tall Pulp was the second one I wrote for Pro Se. And it's the first time I felt I "got it right" as a writer.)

But the other advantage is that I got to know Tommy Hancock...who is a knight errant, a man who walks these mean streets but who is himself not mean. And he would love the fact that I'm using that Raymond Chandler quote in talking about him. And who has, well, encouraged me to continue writing...

...and hopefully, you'll soon be reading about a parallel timeline where Theodore Roosevelt is a bounty hunter. Or my yarn about a First Nation Apache lawman on 23rd-century Mars. Or even the time Buster Keaton & Harold Lloyd broke up a blackmail ring.

(Amongst others which I can't discuss until they're released).

So this may seem like "just another" story....but it's my first. And it's with a pair of characters I hope to rejoin in Volume 2.

Check out this and other works via my Amazon author page!

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