Yesterday I had a lot to ponder, thanks to Philosophy By Christy. Her post about the fine line between fact and fiction prompted my comment about an idea that I’ve sort of shoved to the background (but haven’t completely shelved for eternity due to my love for its playlist). The plot blossomed back at the end of 2010, while my husband was in an antique store in Capitola. I was sitting in the car, minding my own darn business, when a story wound its way onto a few slips of paper. Yet it concerned a brutal murder, a detective, ghosts. I’m not scared of ghosts, but I am completely clueless when it comes to forensic study.
And I’m squeamish. I can’t stand blood.
Yet I love the idea of a hardened detective faced with a determined spirit not wishing to quietly go into that good night. Even if means rattling the cage of a man who doesn’t believe in the afterlife, much less an ethereal woman bugging the crap outta him. I’ve been trying to ignore that tale, telling myself I can’t write that sort of novel, it’s not me.
Well, the angsty ghost and miserable detective are me all over, but…
Christy responded to my comment by reminding that even if I don’t publish it, it’s good practice. And to not let the inner editor get in the way until after I’ve written the story.
Dude! Like a brick up the head was that. I’ve never had an issue with the inner editor while writing, but I had never considered how that sneaky ne’re-do-well could sabotage a project before it even got off the ground.
Christy and I exchanged a few more comments, which led me to Malinda Lo’s site, and a post about that inner critic, as Lo calls it. I read a few more of Lo’s posts, then sat down at the kitchen table with the folder for my idea, post-it notes, the playlist wafting from my speakers. And a heaping dose of courage; so what if I know jack-squat about murder investigations? I wanna write this novel!
I’m listening to the tunes right now, silky Thomas Dolby from The Flat Earth, released the year I graduated high school. There’s My Morning Jacket with “Honest Man” from their 2001 album At Dawn. One Prince song, “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?”, The Everly Brothers with three hits from 1957, 1959, and 1965. Then there is Roxy Music.
Music is my muse, and Roxy is one of the best. Their 1973 album Stranded provides their presence within this tale, and as I allowed all these artists and songs into my brain, the doubts faded, the resolve strengthened. What was I so scared about in the first place?
Blood. Intricate investigative details. Police protocol…
Oh yeah. But I really wanna write about Shaun McBride and Felicity Reynolds and Shaun’s dead ex-wife Zinnia and Shaun’s as for now unnamed boss at the police station.
But you don’t even know what a detective’s boss is called, now do you? You don’t read cop thrillers, you get queasy when you cut your own finger!
But it’s not just about a murder! It’s about Shaun’s recriminations over his failed marriage, then Zinnia turns up dead, and so does Felicity. Then Felicity starts pestering Shaun to solve her not-really-a-murder and and…
But you’d have to brush up (putting it mildly) on how cops gather evidence and how detectives take medical leave when they start seeing ghosts and…
But mostly Shaun spends his time drinking on a houseboat, trying to come to terms with two dead women, one he still loved and one who he can see through but hold as if she’s real. And when Felicity kisses him….
What in the heck does that have to do with police investigations and forensic evidence collection?
My point exactly.
Now, does this mean I win the argument and write the novel, which has a title: Haunted. I’m sure considering it. Who cares if I’m going to publish it, I mean, that’s not entirely the point. The point is the story, the idea, the principle. My writing principle is to investigate (ha ha) new ideas. I’ve written about all sorts of situations and people that I’ll never be or find myself a part of, why is this any different? It’s a love story, check. It’s got more angst than water in the ocean, yup. It’s moody and atmospheric and has a killer playlist, yeah yeah yeah.
And it has a psychopathic killer and cops and tweezers. Don’t murder investigators need tweezers and little plastic bags and…
Maybe most do. Maybe mine won’t. It’s a new genre of crime thrillers written by rather squeamish love story authors who aren’t scared of a little blood.
A little blood will be okay. Sure it will. I’ve written about a little blood before and I can do this. I can really do this.
I really can; who’s here to say I can’t?
The inner-critic crosses her arms, sniffs disdainfully, and slinks away as Roxy Music’s “Street Life” blasts from the speakers…