Friday, August 11, 2006

TRANSFUSIONS

TRANSFUSIONS–Need to Tank Up on fun, interesting general observations by an author of over forty published novels, and spirals on any and everything that goes on, plus insights into publishing and writing? If so, you're gonna need TRANSFUSIONS....

This relentless BLOG may not please always, may not appease everyone, may not fool all the people all the time, but maybe some of the people some of the time and it will draw on others for support to keep a tight rein on me. A collaborator once thought I needed chains. Sometimes I will be controversial but most times just kidding...nothing too serious that we can't agree to disagree as in how much I truly, truly hated Night Whatshisname begins with an S–'s Signs, The Village, and The Lady in Water–none of which were intended as spoofs folks....no no no...but rather nods to previous great directors such as Alfred Hitchcock who would have fired NS in a heartbeat.

The man is a walking example of a one-film wonder. If I had a chair to kick right now, I'd kick it.

But of course, if you have a take on it that differs from mine, "bring it on!" However, I will more normally discuss books and in particular writing and the sculpting and creation and imagination topics...how writing demands our full psychology on many levels, and demands we keep EVERY plate in the air at once and not forget a single sense, prop, character, dog, cat, parrot, or other element we bring into our stories–we authors. I am hoping other authors will drop by and bog my blog and take issue and leave some scars and blood or take away some blood. After all, this is Transfusions...a place to replenish....

I'd like to begin by explaining WHY I wrote PSI BLUE...and next time WHY I wrote Shadows in White City, sequel to City for Ransom. In doing so...in detailing the purpose and reasoning behind selecting these projects over all those sitting yet in the 'hangar' hoping to one day 'take off' may be hopefully illuminating for yous guys outside this Chicagoan's head.

I once picked up Jerone Stern's Making Shapely Fiction, and I read it non-stop. Just a small paperback, 5 dollars, but within these pages, Stern somehow crawled into my author's brain and told ME how I do what I do, as it had all been up to that point learned response, intuition, guesswork, experiment, wonder at times at my own turn of phrase or at what (My God) I had wrought... Then I sat down and slowed down and read Making Shapely Fiction again. Now mind you, had already written some 22 novels, but I had not analyzed how I did it or how much psychology on the author's part was involved, and how much psychology must be deposited into the character's makeup, nor the shape of things. Stern's book was an eye-opener, and I then used it in all my creative writing classes ever since, but I've never known another author who'd read this book to have had the major, gigantic AHA experience with it that I did. On the one hand, we don't want to know how the 'magic' works, but on the other hand as usual 'knowing' is growing and knowledge is power. It truly felt like the man had really been in my head. Take a look at this out of print title if you intend to write. Wish I'd had it at the beginning of my career, as I wish there'd been the How Dunnit Series in my early days as I had to sift information from here, there, and everywhere in the medical field and CSI books I did over those years. One thing I did was read the 'memoirs' of every ME who ever sat down to write 'em up. Never found a female ME who did her memoirs, but perhaps that has changed and of course Anne Wingate has a PhD in something, I think Criminalistics? ANYONE out there can correct me on this? And please don't say Patricia Cornwell, as despite her sometimes being photographed in a lab coat, she is not an ME. I gotta get me a lab coat...all I have is my moth-eaten graduation gown occasionally put to use at a Halloween signing.

So WHY write PSI BLUE for Echelon Press? For one, the publisher loved the three-four line pitch I pitched her: PSI stands for psychic sensory investigator Aurelia Murphy Hiyakawa, half Japanese, half Celtic, and all woman. Her story is, while like TV's medium (on speed) unique as she has next to no family support and a house falling down around her even as she chases down a serial killer. That's why I finished the novel, because I engen-deared a publisher who loved the concept, showed enthusiasm, voiced an interest–all very rare to find. Truth be told, I'd been told that no one in the publishing industry in New York wanted ever to see the two words psychic and detective voiced together ever again as they'd HAD IT with this whole sub-genre, and this from my then agent who, as a result had NO enthusiasm for the project, suggesting it be 'shelved' and that I go onto and concentrate on some other project.

All of the above is true and two weeks after being told what NYC does not want, Medium debuted on TV, and a year into it the show wins an Emmy, and now psychic detectives are popping up all over the tube and in films. The wave...once again missed? I don't feel that way. I feel my partnership with a committed publisher willing to trust her authors a refreshing change, a publisher who suspects when an author is excited about his work that there is something worthwhile going on in there....

However, all that said, I wrote PSI BLUE because I got 'Rae' in my head and she wouldn't leave me the hell alone. She insisted her story by told. Call it what you will, but once an author sketches or sculpts ac character said character may go away like a weak puppy, or said character might leap out at the author and begin to make demands–principally the demand to life. "I wanna live! I can do this! I can make people sit up and take notice if YOU do your job, Walker. A little effort please, a little research...won't take much...something on Kanji's maybe, Buddhism, a little Irish history and mythology? Come on...give me a complete, layered being, a gestalt, but be warned my mind is as layered as any of your previous 'intelligent' cops. I'm no push-over."

OK...in an early time and place, say 1692 Massachusetts, I'd've been put away, excommunicated, and hung for the 'voices' in my head. Thank God we've learned that all artists are nuts and that it's Okay...Look how it worked for Picasso.

Other reasons I wanted to do PSI BLUE happen to go to the root of my psychology as an author. No I am not a woman in a man's body...I just happen to like women and to believe I can 'sculpt' them well, far more so than many another author, male or female as I use the psych edge. I BECOME the character and I live as her for the duration of the book the same as many an actor lives the character during filming, which can really screw with relationships. "I know you are seeing another woman! I can smell her on you!" Nahhh, nahhh, nahhh...that's 'cause I am Aurelia Murphy Hyakawa while the play is running. If I am having an affair, it is with my character." This revelation can scare a loved one into another state as quick or more quickly than a real-world affair. Finally, here is the truth of the matter as Aurelia had a precursor...a character who popped up from time to time in the Instinct and the Edge books, criss-crossing as she was that rare detective who was also a psychic who worked for the FBI and not a psychic sub-contractor. Her name was Kim Desinor and she weaseled her way into the Instinct books about half way through the series, and Double-Edge, second of the Edge Series.

Kim...Kim I loved and I suggested a spin-off series with her, but my then publisher would have none of it. I let the idea go. Years later Kim kept nagging at my mind, back of the brain, back burner, percolating. Kim had been a reformed Catholic Cajun woman and home base was New Orleans. She first appeared in Pure Instinct. New Orleans way before the flood. I was left bereft about Kim, left feeling I had never had the opportunity to truly explore all her layers, all her fears and goals, all her gift.

This had happened with characters before such as Abraham Stroud in my BloodScreams Series (now e-books on FictionWise). After 3 books, I felt bereft, left with no way to further explore this great character, so I created the Edge Series hero Cherokee detective Lucas Stonecoat, and he took up the standard so I might continue to explore this 'type' of psychology, this gestalt I'd first named Abe Stroud, archeologist turned Vampire slayer.

Lucas had a shadowy precursor in Abe, and now Rae Hyakawa grew out of Kim Desinor. Kim meet Rae. I believe that my Inspector Alastair Ransom (who rambled without SHAPE or clear form for years in the back of my head) could not have come to full-blown 'life' in City for Ransom had I not written the forty some odd books before settling on gaslight era Chicago and a man like Lucas Stonecoat and like Jessica Coran and yet unique in himself, and getting critical acclaim wherever he goes. In fact City for Ransom and PSI Blue are both populated with characters who've come out of characters who've come out of characters.

Building a new novel is like building a house. You go to the next building project with allllllll that you have learned, good, bad, and ugly from the house before.

Soooo I do hope TRANSFUSIONS as a blog 'works' for you. In future, I will announce a contest or two...keeping it simple, but wouldn't you like your favorite charity mentioned in a book, your own business, your kid's name or your own? I think this could be arranged. Done it before.

Thanks for dropping in and please let me have your comments!
Rob Walker

10 Comments:

Anonymous terry from dl said...

Yo, Rob! Your complete profile is lacking, um, any information whatsoever. Details! We want details!

10:53 AM  
Blogger Peony said...

Seems to me as though he pretty much told the story of his life as an author - what does his wife think of these love affairs with characters.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Peony said...

Seems to me as though he pretty much told the story of his life as an author - what does his wife think of these love affairs with characters.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

What I want to see is a mystery about a Bird Dog Field Trial. You can read up on them in American Field. One time we found the Judge under the tree - he was just passed out but we thought he'd been shot - we were afraid one of the pro dog trainers that wanted to win for sure used real bullets instead of blanks.

Alabama has a lot of field trials.

You should know all about that.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Rob Walker said...

Hi all...commenting on the comments here. Thanks for visiting. Have created the profile you wanted, Terry and my current wife #3 -- Miranda -- has Mirandized me. Actually finally found the perfect fit on tht crooked path to relationships. Wish evereyone could. As to dog field trial murders...ahhh you really don't want my villians anywhere near pets or animals of any kind. They just are too nasty to the brute world. I don't do cat or dog mysteries...sorry.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Ron Estrada said...

Bird hunters shooting at their dogs is commonplace--nothing to write about. I prefer kicking mine, saves on shells.

Well, Rob, welcome to blogging. The hard part is keeping up with it. The easy part is there is no deadline, so who cares if you keep up with it?

But really, as a universally famous author, just posting what you had for lunch would probably draw interest. Me, I still have to be cute and funny. If cute and funny paid, I'd make minimum wage with no lunch.

Anyway, glad to see you here. Now post something new before you disappear from our "history" lists.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Pat Mullan said...

Rob,

Welcome to the world of blogging. I started one but never really used it. Lately I've become inspired again - so I may just rework mine and start over.

I'll be adding your blog to my special list, which includes Barry Eisler's 'The Heart of the Matter', Joe Konrath's 'A Newbie's Guide to Publishing' and Sarah Weinman's 'Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind'

Cheers, Pat.

**********************************

As you know, I love your Instinct and Edge series and I repeat here what I thought of CITY FOR RANSOM:

"I love Chicago. The name itself intrigues. When I was a kid in Ireland it was a famous name in my head, filed there from many Hollywood movies: the dark side with Capone, O'Bannion, and the St. Valentine's Day massacre; the crying side with Mrs.O'Leary's cow almost burning the city to the ground; and the political side of Chicago's Irish bosses, with pride and shame in equal measure. And, tell me, whose heart doesn't find a home in Tony Bennett's `Chicago, Chicago, my home town." Chicago today, what could be better?

I'll tell you what: Chicago of 1893 in Robert W. Walker's CITY FOR RANSOM, which takes you back in time as surely as any H.G. Wells time machine, back to a city that's the most important character in this superb, dark, skillful, hypnotic work. Calling it a mystery, or crime noir, or thriller, or work of suspense or horror would be short-changing this masterful creation. Yes, it's a gripping dark suspense filled story but always, always, it's Chicago that marches proudly through these pages, breathing life into them as only a master like Rob Walker can accomplish."

11:19 AM  
Blogger Robert W. Walker said...

Again wan to thank you visitors...and a special thanks to a fine author and a fine review Pat Mullan! Wow -- Rob

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are Women Really Superior to Men?

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net

5:11 PM  

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