Sunday, March 5, 2017

World Building

I am setting writing on the sequel to Judging Angels aside for a bit so I can make detailed notes on the Judging Angels universe. I need to be certain that everything is and works the same in all books in the series. Not as exciting, but very necessary now.

I don't want anyone saying, "Wait a second. I thought x couldn't do y."

There is a lot of background to be laid down, too. I always like to know why everyone does everything, and part of that answer depends on shared assumptions of people in the character's culture. This raises issues of religion, status, laws and customs. Moreover, it is not enough to just develop a world. Everything must also provide a commentary.

All characters are like us, no matter what else; all places are like home, no matter what else. The mirror may have been filched from the fun house, but it's still a mirror.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Who Killed Superman?

George Reeves as Superman. Did the nicest guy in
Hollywood really commit suicde?

By all accounts, handsome, athletic George Reeves was a likeable, happy guy who always had time for kids who wanted to meet Superman. (Even when one pointed a loaded .38 at him for a few tense seconds.) However, playing Superman on the dubious new medium of television wasn't the greatest career move for an actor whose first appearance on screen was in the blockbuster Gone With the Wind. (One of the twins.) But from 1952 through 1958, the Man of Steel was nicest guy in Hollywood..

At two a.m. June 16, 1959, he died of a gunshot wound to the head. It was ruled a suicide despite some dodgy details.

Some books give the impression that nobody ever died of natural causes in Hollywood, and only a few knew the real story about anything. I get it. It sells books. Right now I'm working on a theory about Rin Tin Tin and a rival studio's dog, Pal. I just don't trust a dog who identifies as the opposite sex and goes by an alias. Pal a.k.a. Lassie.

Eddie Mannix's wife & Superman's
squeeze / bunny boiler Toni Mannix.
So, some say George Reeves was murdered. The circumstances do lend themselves to conspiracy theories.

Though being Superman was a lousy gig for an actor, for seven years he had the solace of Eddie Mannix's wife, Toni. Now, you might think dating the woman of MGM's most notorious "fixer" wouldn't be the greatest career move either, if by "career," we mean "staying alive."

But Eddie didn't mind one little bit. Reeves kept Eddie's long-time mistress and newly wedded wife Toni  happy, and no doubt Eddie, who held the official title of producer, did not lack for feminine consolation at MGM.

Toni was eight years Reeve's senior, and infatuated with the star of the cheesy TV show. (It didn't seem cheesy when I was a kid, so who cares?) They were a regular Hollywood couple. In every sense of the word.

Enter Leonore Lemmon. (Picture below and to the right. Look at that face. What an innocent little mouse, huh?)

Exit Toni Mannix.

One can easily imagine the conversation at the Mannix kitchen table. "Eddie, George dumped me for some gold digger. I'm so mad at him. Would you please bump him off, sweetheart?"

Of course, being a dutiful husband, Eddie would have said, "Sure, baby, I'll put in on my to-do list for next week, 'kay?"

Was Eddie Mannix capable of ordering a hit on Superman?

Yeah, probably. But the truth is hard to find after it has been through the studio publicity machine, the Mocambo rumor mill, columnist Louella Parson's double-ended pen with poison on one end and sugar on the other, and the mountain of autobiographies and authorized biographies written with buckets of whitewash and snake venom.

George Reeves didn't seem like a guy who was contemplating suicide. His Superman career had perked up with a lot more cash to stuff in his tights, and he had romantic travel plans with Leonore. On the other hand, guys with prospects do commit suicide, and today's smiling mouth is taking a bite out of the licorice stick tomorrow. You just never know.

Toni was a bunny boiler. Or, in this case, I like her for whacking George's beloved dog. ("Like" meaning "suspect.") Either way, after seven years of bliss with George Reeves, Toni was unlikely to go quietly. A bunny boiler and a shady fixer with mob connections. Hmm. What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Milestones & Merging the Two Stories

I've got 11,000 words written, so I'm on a good pace. I just finished Chapter 3: "Laikas" (see previous).

The first part was originally intended to be short, and fill in the important events of a 12-day gap between the end of the action in Judging Angels and the beginning of Judging Angels 2. I am finding there is no way to do that in a chapter or two.

So we start with a short flashback, and the new characters are aware of the events going on at the same time in the original novel, but are quickly overwhelmed with their own problems.

But also, the "fill-in" chapters are pretty interesting on their own, if I say so for myself. The new characters deserve to have their story told, too, and the Judging Angels universe will continue to be developed. I'm excited about moving the new material toward its inevitable merging with the characters and situations of the first novel in the series.

It's going to be some collision.

As usual, lots of twists and surprises, mistaken assumptions, back-stabbing and unlikely alliances. So far, the body count is zero. It was two, but I exercised my god-like powers to restore the two Cerberus Security agents to life.

Oh. I forgot. Yes, but somebody else got burned. My bad.

The way I write is I take something familiar, some element of the story or characters readers think they're sure about, and ask myself, "What will the reader expect?" And then I do something completely different.

And then I laugh evilly.