Thursday, July 5, 2012

A different kind of story from a bygone era was standard fare once upon a time


My book, The Missionary Position, was born out of the voice of one of its characters – the protagonist, Jack Halloway – barging in on my mind whilst in the middle of writing another story. But the point I want to get to now has more to do with the tone and style of how that story is told, than Jack's intrusion.

If you’ve read it, you’ll note the difference from many of today’s reads write away. And I think this has to do with the influence I felt from the old pulps that were once popular in the early to middle part of the twentieth century. I was introduced to them by Louis L’Amour, the famous writer known most for his Western stories. But what many don’t know is that Mr. L’Amour got his start writing for pulp magazines in the 30s and 40s. Maybe earlier – I’m not sure. Many of these stories were high tales of adventure, set in distant locales that to an American reader of that day were often too far off to be comprehendible.

The stories of this era – and not just Louis’ – were a simple fare, with good guys and bad guys, and plots you probably had figured out pretty early on, but it didn’t matter because the story was so rough-and-tumble fun that you couldn’t help yourself but to keep reading on. Think Indiana Jones, since these same pulp fiction stories were the inspiration for George Lucas bringing Indie to our local theaters.

That was the kind of story that popped into my mind with TMP, and I had immense fun writing it. It flowed onto the keyboard so fast out of my fingers that I hardly had time to eat or drink. It was finished, I’d guess looking back on it now, in a matter of a week or two.

And then it sat. 

I began a graduate program. I moved across the country. Life got in the way. And then one day out of boredom I went back to look at some old files and there it was, in all its shining, debacled (is that a word?) glory. I read it again, and loved it, though I did see it needed some tweaking. A buddy read it for me a while back and he made some recommendations. I decided to re-edit it, add some of those recommendations in, have others edit/look at it, and then stepped back to see what I had. 

I liked it again. Loved it, even. I hope you do too!