Thursday, July 24, 2014

Writing Lucas -- Part 1

In preparation for the launch of Vengeance at Sundown I’ll be posting a few blogs about the origin of the my new Western series--writing it, my take on the future of Westerns, and anything else that comes to mind in between now and then

There were a lot of considerations when it came to writing Lucas Fume, my second Western series. First off, I had to look back at what I had already done.   The Josiah Wolfe, Texas Ranger series is comprised of six books.  All of the books in that series where written in single POV (point of view), third person.  It was all Josiah, all of the time.  I did that with intention.  I wanted to write those books like I was writing from first person to create an intimacy, but I didn’t want the story to be narrated directly in Josiah’s voice.  It was a confining decision, and there was nothing written in my contract that stated I had to write those stories that way, I just decided to.  I had the freedom to tell that story however I wanted to, and could have changed it anytime I wanted to, but I'm glad I didn't. As a technique, I think it worked.  Readers attached themselves to Josiah.  So, the question was: as a writer did I want to do that again?  The answer was an immediate no.  I wanted the new series to be as different possible from the previous one, so I decided to stick with third person, but go with multiple points of view so I could have more flexibility. 

Of course, that decision didn’t come first.  Lucas Fume came first.  But again, I wanted him, his past, his associations, to be completely different from Josiah Wolfe, too.  Where Josiah was bound by the expectations and the demands of the Texas Ranger organization, I wanted Lucas to be more of a freelancer—to be able move about the country as he needed to.  But I wanted him to have commensurate skills, so I decided that he would be an ex-spy.  At the time, I thought there would be plenty of research material to delve into, but I was wrong.  There is some documentation of Civil War spies, but not the deep canon of literature devoted to the Texas Rangers.  But the spy background gave me plenty to work with like building networks, disguises, getting in and out of tight situations, weaponry, you name it.  The possibilities seemed endless, especially if Lucas was really good at being a spy. And he was.  Too good.  Lucas Fume made some enemies that lasted long after the war ended.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the POV, and the early decisions.  In the Josiah Wolfe books, one of the things I decided on was to insert Josiah into historical events, and also have him interact with historical characters.  I decided to do the same thing with Lucas, but not as close.  The immediacy of Lucas’s story was more important to me than an exact point and place in history.  Though I do have plans to play with history a bit in future books.  

What the choice of multiple POV gave me as a writer was the opportunity to explore different characters from different timelines, then have them all converge at the end so that each part of the story fit together tightly.  It was a different challenge, and called on different skills than the Josiah Wolfe books.  The jury’s still out whether I accomplished that, but this book is different from  the Josiah Wolfe books, at least, as far as I’m concerned, and that's exactly what I set out to do.

Coming up: More about that research.

Lucas Fume #1 Vengeance at Sundown (Berkley) will be available August 5, 2014 at all bookstores, online and brick and mortar.  My next appearance will be August 5, 2014 -- Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Noblesville, Indiana from 5 PM to 8 PM.  

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