Monday, February 21, 2011

Story Notes - About "The Scenic Route"

One night a few years ago, I dreamed that a friend and I were driving endlessly around and around a suburb, looking for the on ramp to the interstate. The dream roved, as my dreams always do, to the country, and then for a short time we were the Beatles, on a hill top giving a concert (or perhaps just rehearsing) and then making an escape in a helicopter. But for most of the dream we were robbers driving around the country trying to make a getaway.

By the time I was fully awake, I had most of the plot of "The Scenic Route" (see yesterday's post for an excerpt) worked out in my head. The suburbs, the Beatles and the helicopter weren't part of the story. But being lost in the country, that was the vivid thing. That was a story.

The thing about the country is that there are few signs, and what signs there are aren't very helpful much of the time. If you make a wrong turn, you can go for many miles without realizing it. So the thought of two hapless robbers attempting to make a getaway, and they miss the on ramp to the interstate... that's pretty much hopeless if they are not country folks, and don't have a map.

I myself am really good with maps. I kind of have a compass in my head too, but I do have one problem:

I can't tell left from right to save my life. Not quickly.

So I decided to inflict that on my poor benighted robbers. Not only is it a fun detail to play with, but it also makes a great metaphor for Luther's whole problem with society. He sees right and wrong the way I see right and left. He's working on it, but it takes a lot effort. And aside from loyalty to friends and treating a lady right, he's pretty much given up on figuring it out. He and Sol live in their own little world, without reference to the rest of society. It's just easier that way.

The other major element of this script -- something not in the excerpt -- is that the story is a bit surreal. That is partly because it came from a dream, I suppose, but mostly because it is a journey into hell, or at least into heck. And that really comes from the characters themselves; the fact that they live in their own little world means that reality feels alien to them. So I gave them a world that exaggerates their view of the world -- the world filled with people and problems they don't understand, because they never really tried, except now they're trying and it's not going so well.

But it's also a world where Luther is forced to see what it is to be a bad guy, but he also has a chance to be a good guy as he understands it.

It was a lot of fun writing this story, and I hope one day to write more about Luther and Sol, but the tone is just too hard for me to nail in fiction. It seems much more suited for a screenplay, which is why I chose not to adapt it before publishing it as an ebook.


"The Scenic Route" is available as an ebook at the Amazon Kindle Store, Amazon UK and Smashwords (where you can get many different formats). Soon to be available at Apple's iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony and Deisel.

(Warning, The Scenic Route is an R-rated crime comedy -- with bad language and mild sexual situations, and main characters who have serious trouble understanding right from wrong.)

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