Danger Slater—the late, great, talented author of the highly entertaining novel Love Me—tagged me to participate in The Next Big Thing blog chain, in which authors answer a set of questions about their works-in-progress.
Oh and by “late,” I did not mean to suggest that Danger is dead. I simply meant that at some point in the man’s life, he was late to class or to a party or to a dentist appointment, etc. Haven’t we all been late at one time or another? For example, take this double entendre “late” joke I just made. No doubt others made the same joke long before I ever thought to do it, but yet I made the joke here as if it were fresh, as if it were indeed my own.
In other words: I’m late.
Anyway, without further rambling, I’ll answer the questions. And at the end of this post I’ll tag a couple writers to keep the chain going.
What is the working title of your book or story?
I’m working on a short story (6,000+ words) titled “The Fabulist, the Senior Engineer, and Da Paypaclip Hustla.”
Where did the idea for the story come from?
This story was born through the mash up of three separate ideas:
1) I keep a file on my computer in which I enter miscellaneous tidbits—words, phrases, sentences, and whole paragraphs—gleaned from the books I read. If I type something into the file, that means I found it interesting for some reason. These items include fairly ordinary words that I might want to assimilate into my own active speaking and/or writing vocabulary, certain 50-cent words of which I always seem to forget the specific meaning or meanings, syntactical structures that I like and want to try using in my own writing, particularly excellent descriptive passages, compelling pieces of dialogue, etc.
Anyhow, sometimes I scan through this file for inspiration. While doing this about a month ago, I noticed I had written the phrase “senior engineer.” I couldn’t remember why I’d typed “senior engineer” into the file or what book/story I’d seen it in, but that didn’t matter, because the second my eyes saw those two words sitting on the screen, the ol’ writing gears started turning.
2) One of my favorite books from my childhood is Harold and the Purple Crayon. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of drawing things in the air and having them come to life (which, it just occurred to me now, is essentially what we do as writers), and for some reason I got to thinking about Harold after the “senior engineer” seed germinated in my brain.
3) For quite a while prior to beginning this story, I wanted to write a tale featuring a tyrannical villain who insisted that everyone around him address him as “sensei” à la The Karate Kid even though said villain possessed no martial arts skills.
So yeah, 1, 2, and 3 sort of got tossed into the blender, and then I began to write the story.
What genre does your story fall under?
*Note: I do NOT use the term “retardo” to imply “retardation” in the insensitive, hurtful, and unfortunately culturally dominant sense of that word as it relates historically to people with impaired cognitive functioning due to congenital genetic disorders, improper fetal development, iodine deficiency, etc. On the contrary, I use the term simply to indicate that . . . that I’m fucking retarded. I don’t know how else to explain it.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The Fabulist – This character has a brawny/bodyguard/bouncer sort of presence. Let’s say Steve Austin.
The Senior Engineer – He’s essentially a taller, paler version of Gollum, so let’s say Andy Serkis (the dude who plays Gollum in the LOR movies).
Da Paypaclip Hustla – Would require at least low-budget CGI or stop animation. But the character’s arms would be modeled after Wesley Snipes’ arms (think Wesley Snipes circa Blade II).
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?
A wandering fabulist takes a job as a “housebitch” for the mayor of the town of Dapperboy, Montana, only to find out that his principal duty as housebitch is to babysit the mayor’s 87-year-old, spoiled-rotten, drunken, atavistic, homicidal, cannibalistic, all-around-asshole son—known only as The Senior Engineer—who, on a whim, decides to flood Dapperboy to make the town more like Venice, Italy.
Will your story be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m writing it for a small press anthology. If it doesn’t get accepted there, I’ll send it around to a few other places. The markets for bizarro short stories—particularly longer stories like this one (I expect the final draft to be about 6,500 words)—are pretty scarce relative to other fiction markets out there, e.g. horror, sci-fi, fantasy, “literary” fiction, etc. If I can’t find a home for the story, at the very least my Mommy will read it and tell me it’s great regardless of how egregiously bad it might be.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A little over two weeks.
What other stories would you compare this story to within your genre?
Hm, I don’t know really.
Who or what inspired you to write this story?
Antonio Salieri, the semi-obscure Italian composer/conductor and popularly perceived rival of Mozart as played by actor F. Murray Abraham in the movie Amadeus; the nerdy, bespectacled “white boy” briefly seen in the music video for Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1992 hit “Baby Got Back”; and a zombified, gorgon version of little Suri Cruise.
What else about your story might pique the reader’s interest?
The story features a uniquely three-headed monster. (To find out the monster’s three heads, simply look at my answer to the previous question.)
* * *
So there ya go. Now here are the three writers I tagged to keep the chain going:
Joe Jablonski is a writer, editor, and musician. His collection of dark sci-fi stories, Vessels, was published last year.
Dustin Reade is a writer, editor, musician, and a sergeant at the Bizarro Brigade. He edits the fabulous webzine The Mustache Factor.
Bradley Sands, bizarro writer extraordinaire, published his latest novel this past October; TV Snorted My Brain is all the rage.