Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Gun Play: A Guest Post and Giveaway from Doug Magee
Doug Magee, the author of Never Wave Goodbye, was kind enough to stop by and write a guest post explaining his reluctance to add guns to a thriller. There will be a giveaway at the end, don't miss out on it. So with no further ado, I give you Doug Magee....
Raymond Chandler supposedly advised the following to writers of suspense novels: When things slow down, bring in a man with a gun.
In my first suspense novel, Never Wave Goodbye, I did not take Chandler's advice. There are three reasons for this:
1). I didn't know about the advice when I was writing the novel.
2). I never thought things were slowing down.
3). I hate guns.
Let me deal with the last first. I've only fired a gun once in my life. I think I was about twelve years old and, being fearless, some men in the neighborhood thought it was a good idea I go out hunting with them to man me up a little. They put a twelve gauge shotgun in my hands, told me to jam the stock tightly into my shoulder, and to squeeze the trigger. I'd been using toy guns, sticks, and whatever to shoot bad guys and Indians (it was the fifties) for a long time. I made a pretty credible imitation of the sound of gunfire as I did this. But my toy gun practice didn't in the least prepare me for the kick of that twelve gauge. I was nearly knocked to the ground by the gun's recoil and my badly damaged shoulder didn't recover for a week.
Since then guns have had my respect and any fictional use I've made of them in my writing has been as a last resort. Unconsciously, I think, I've taken an approach opposite that of Chandler. If I've had to have a character pull out a pistol, I ask myself what I can't be creative enough to give the scene a different motor, resolution.
Guns and gun culture are an integral part of both our fictional and real world. I suppose one tool every suspense writer should hone is gun knowledge. I remember being looked at askance by a producer on one of my first screenwriting projects when I told him I didn't know hat a Glock was. To be honest with you I'm still a little fuzzy on this category. My questions to myself is, does this resistance to gun usage hurt or help my suspense novel writing? I'm not sure but I'd probably say, if pressed, that it forces me to at least think deeply about a scene, action, and the like rather than rushing to fulfill Chandler's dictum.
A screenwriter auditioning to adapt Never Wave Goodbye for the screen altered the book significantly and added gun play in many scenes where there was none in the novel. I was able to veto his, uh, help. But I wonder how long my gun dislike can continue if I'm to be writing suspense novels. I'm not sure but perhaps the solution is this: don't let things slow down.
I would, once again, thank David for stopping by and giving us his insight into the usage of guns in suspense writing. I must say I totally agree with him on this. You can learn more about David and his novel by visiting his website. You can also read my review of Never Wave Goodbye.
To enter all you have to do is leave a short or long comment about your views on guns/weapons being used in today's fiction. You must be a follower of this blog and leave an email address in your comment.
You can earn an extra entry, each, by twittering or blogging about this giveaway. Let me know in your initial comment if you did either one, as well as a link proving it.
By the publisher's request the giveaway is only open in the US and Canada.
The giveaway will run from 7/13/10 through 11:59 PM on 7/27/10. I will select the winner using random.org and will then email the winner for their mailing address. The winner will have 48 hours to email me their info or I will select a new winner.