Monday, September 29, 2014

How I Came To Write This Story, Mike Miner (PLAN B MAGAZINE)

“The Little Outlaw”

It started with a radio.
Well, it started with a conversation. The seeds of this story were planted while talking to my parents, children of the '40s, about what they did at night for entertainment way back when.
They listened to the radio.
That was the big bang moment for this world. A world without televisions or cell phones. The only connection to the outside world, a big Crosley radio. I tend to avoid research whenever possible. Which is why most of my stories take place within the past forty years, why they tend to be set in places I've lived or spent a lot of time in. Partly I'm lazy, partly I crave authenticity in my work and the further I get from my own experience the harder it is to keep things authentic. But for “The Little Outlaw” research was unavoidable.
The radio turned out to be a great device for setting the stage. The music and the Red Sox box score tells us when this is. The late '40s. The news gives us the weather report, a storm is pummeling the state, houses are losing power, a local bank was robbed. All of these details will converge on this house. It was just a matter of getting everyone under one roof. Of course the bank robbers will show up. And once all of the guests have arrived, the real fun starts.
Mary, the little outlaw of the title, was a perfect set of eyes and ears to see and hear this world through. A girl just starting to get wise to the flaws of the adults in her world. By the end of the story she'll be wiser still.
The twist ending, like a lot of twist endings in my writing came to me as I wrote it, with no premeditation. I had only a vague idea of how the story would end. A lot of possibilities were available. I find things tend to work out better, especially in my short fiction, if I don't do to much planning, if I don't have a set finish line. When the ending of this one revealed itself it just felt right. And only then did I figure out the title.

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Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Thanks for hosting Mike.

Mike - I love it that you were inspired by a conversation. That happened to me too with my first book. It's a good lesson that you never know where a simple interaction will lead...

Charles Gramlich said...

I remember reading Harlan Ellison saying that he had story ideas that started from overheard conversations.

Peter DiChellis said...

I enjoyed reading this story in Plan B, and then reading it again after it was judged a finalist in the Derringer Awards for outstanding short mysteries. Great stuff.

Hope lots of people will support Plan B.

BVLawson said...

Enjoyed the story, Mike! Looking forward to more (perhaps in an upcoming and hopefully newly-funded Plan B...).

David Cranmer said...

I very much enjoy Mike's work.

Mike Miner said...

Thanks for having me, Patti. This was a fun story to look back on since it came about differently than my usual method.