Monday, January 24, 2011

What I Write

I told a little about why I write, or why I think I do. This time I thought I’d talk a bit about what I write.

My focus is Mystery, but that’s a deceptive term. The driving force behind any story is the desire to see what happens next. That makes everything a mystery in some form. We can’t even say that a mystery involved finding out who committed a crime. The TV series Columbo opened most of the time by showing the killer doing it. The rest of the program was spent watching the detective try to figure what the audience already knew. Yet, these were still Mysteries.

Still other stories are most certainly Mysteries but they contain some other element that puts them in a different genre.

If Agatha Christie’s And then there were None, sometimes called Ten Little Indians, would have been set on a space station instead of an island, it would have been Science Fiction. If that same story used dwarves and elves and been set in a cave or dungeon, it would have been Fantasy. The dialog and room descriptions would have changed, but the key plot points could remain intact regardless of time or place.

Many of the classic Science Fiction stories of Phillip K Dick were essentially mysteries that used fantastic technology to set up the crime. While making them Science Fiction as far as the world is concerned, it did not make the any of the stories any less of a Mystery.

When I say I write Mysteries I mean I write detective fiction. It may be set in the current world, an alternate, fantasy world, or a world of spaceships and aliens. To me, they are all mysteries. With that in mind, here are the main “worlds” I plan to use as settings.

The modern, “real” world will be home to most. In particular, I have a private investigator who recently left Detroit after suffering a serious injury. His name is Raymond Jaye, and even though the settings and technology are as real as anything around today, the character is a throwback to the late 40’s radio drama programs. He’s not Phillip Marlowe, Flashgun Casey, or Richard Rogue, but he knows many of the same people.

Ray Grew up listening to the old shows his grandfather had saved from his days as an engineer in Chicago, just after World War II. Most of the kids in his school were raised on television programs. Ray was raised by radio. When he’s working, he often slips into the old time mindset. This gives him a quick wit, which doesn’t always work out in his favor.

Ray’s stories can be short stories, novellas, or full novels. I have some of each either planned or finished.

The “real” world is also home to a number of short, one-off stories featuring their own characters and styles. These can be anything from flash fiction to novella length, and vary in tone from creepy, to light comedy, but always with the mystery element in mind.

Stepping slightly away from reality is a possible series set in a super luxury hotel. The hotel is a bit too out of this world to be “real”, but no so out of place that it couldn’t really exist.

Stories set there would have more of an espionage feel to them, with high stakes gambling and people skulking about a closed environment looking to either perform, or elude, dark deeds.

Then, there is the world of Richard Gray. His world is one of magic coexisting with our modern technology. His stories are less of a detective style and more of a police procedural. Rather than collecting samples and taking them to a lab to analyze, he uses magic at the scene.

His “team” consists of a grumpy old man who always seems to know someone that can help with some task, an assistant who is quite a bit more than she typically lets on, and a pair of normal young women who are nearly exact opposites of each other.

I have six novels planned for them so far. The first draft of the first one is nearly done.

Finally, moving to the Science Fiction end of the scale, I have a few ideas that include my take on the standard dystopian society, as well a character who has been very well received despite being an 8 foot tall insect. She’s a great character, but I can’t think of any way to use her other than the one little experiment I had her in. I’m not even sure how to class a non-graphic novel about superheroes.

So, that’s about it. I’ve got things planned in three main genres, but under everything, they are all Mysteries.

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