So, I’ll assume you’ve read my story Studies in Film Noir I. I should probably re-read it before writing this, and likely will before I get to the jump. Let me just say that I was in high school when I wrote that. It seems a little Pretty Hate Machine, looking at it now. Needlessly dark and moody, clipped and withdrawn. I’m not saying it came from pain, I’m saying it so badly wants to be seen as serious. I wrote it seriously. The first part I wrote, actually, was Part Four. And originally, that was the whole story, until I wanted to know more about who was involved and what happened to all of them. Isn’t that the way the best stories are written, after all? Stephen King said he has no idea where a book is going when he writes it. In my first attempt to write a novel back in November, the pressure of 20 thousand words got to me. I knew where it was going, so I stopped. And really, that’s the biggest obstacle between me and being a good writer: knowing where it’s going.
You see, after I wrote Studies in Film Noir, back when that was its title, I started thinking about doing other stories in that fictional universe. Somewhere in the near future, after the Equal Rights movement has led America to a second Civil War (escalating into an [idealistically] non-nuclear Third Global Conflict), and the States have healed, but barely. It’s a setting that allows for a few things. Meditations on communal hatred, gay veterans, aptly named bars. It also allows for that gritty, post-WWII narrative–the hardboiled. Where heroes have jaws the size of a shark’s and, in my case, heroines are as ballsy. So, I started wondering about a couple of the characters in Studies in Film Noir I, and found that there were two stories I wanted to tell. Warning: spoilers for Studies in Film Noir I, The Ballad of Skinhead Bob and Studies in Film Noir II after the jump, so read it if you haven’t.
The first story I wanted to write was The Ballad of Skinhead Bob. After Bob comes home and has his slightly supernatural epiphany with Faith, he walks back out the front door. When I looked at his back walking down those stairs, I felt like this couldn’t be the last of his story. I mean, first of all, what does he do for the rest of the night? He’s newly homeless, newly friendless and near naked in a city on the verge of winter. (Why are all hardboiled stories always on the verge of winter? You never see a good hardboiled set in July–aside from Chinatown.) This guy likely has no experience with being homeless. I always thought that he’d manage to bungle his way into a homeless shelter at some point in the first week. A kind older woman behind the scenes would see his plight and help him get a job. If you’re wondering why the new “moral haze” Jane put on him never quite lifted, it’s because of the tattoos. Now you know.
The problem with this is that I don’t know what it’s like to be homeless. I have no idea what it’s like to live on the streets, and I’m good not asking. I’m a pathologically lazy sort, so if writing a story involves legwork? Screw it, it’s on the pile. The “write it when I’m older” pile. I guess that pile is becoming prescient now.
The other story I wanted to do is, of course, Studies in Film Noir II. The other element of my universe I didn’t mention before the jump is that it’s urban fantasy. Jane, from Part Four, is an angel. Literally. She has wings and was ejected from heaven for interfering in human affairs directly. I don’t know what that would mean or how that came about, but in all honesty–that’s just a plot device and an excuse to have her on Earth. Her partner, Gabe, is also an angel. So, it occurred to me after writing Studies in Film Noir I that it might not just be angels on Earth. There might also be a few demons.
Studies in Film Noir II would be similar to I in featuring three people linked by a violent circumstance, but it would be far more violent and bleak. The first demon I wanted to investigate is an urban fantasy classic: the vampire. Now, how do you breathe life into a genre and monster currently defined by Twilight and previously defined by Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Interview With the Vampire? My strategy was simple: go back to Dracula and Nosferatu. Vampires aren’t sensitive, misunderstood loners. They’re psychotic killing machines with one purpose only: to feed on that which you need to live. This would, by necessity, make the story more horror than fantasy, but so be it. Some scares come with monsters, and if I can make you cringe, I’ve done my job.
The sequel would follow Barkeep Steve, the bartender from Part One who served under Jake Fletcher during the war. Steve, you see, is harboring a crush for a girl named Sheena. The only problem is that Sheena is over ten years his junior, currently in college, whereas he’s a shellshocked veteran. So, naturally, when handsome and intriguing Chuck comes along, he loses Sheena by letting her leave with him. Chuck, of course, is the vampire in this work, taking Sheena into the alley to drink her blood, dismember her and eat her flesh. Sheena is very dead. That’s the end of Part One. The work would then resume at Part Four, bypassing all of the hard questions to answer between parts. Barkeep Steve has found out what happened to Sheena, tracked Chuck down and found out how to kill him. But before he kills him, he will torture him. For hours on end, eventually finding where Chuck is keeping Sheena’s remains. After Chuck is thoroughly dead, he calls the police and lets them find the whole scene. He’s already gone.
See, it’d be a nice, hard, horrible story. But I know where it goes. That’s the problem. I even know the intricacies of Sheena’s flesh tearing under Chuck’s hands. I’ve figured out how to torture a vampire without killing it more than ten times trying to write this story down. But that’s all it would be. Writing a story down. I’ve already done all the legwork in figuring out where it starts and where it goes. I also have a creeping suspicion that even though it’s only two parts, it’d be longer than Studies in Film Noir I.
Anyway, I hope posting this helps me to write it eventually. I really wanna see where that story goes, but I already know too much.