How I Came to Write Pongo's Lucky Day
This is a cautionary tale for writers about why it's never a good idea to get your news from online sources. Due to geographic happenstance, the L.A. Times is my daily newspaper. I stress the "paper" part of the word over the "news" part because if I were to read the online version, I never would have stumbled on the two-inch item, buried deep in the back of the metro section, that would become Pongo's Lucky Day. These tiny bits of newspaper filler don't make it into online newspaper editions because online papers have no need to fill up a physical page. And that is the cautionary part of this tale: consume your news from paper media or you'll miss juicy story ideas.
This particular item was about a man who'd gone to an ATM that spewed out more than $30,000 in cash. By the time the police caught up with him, he'd visited three casinos and gambled it all away.
I took the ATM-gone-wild part of the item and paired it with a not-too-bright 24-year-old ski bum named Pongo Smith, who'd come to an Indian casino/ski resort for a snowboard competition. I'm not the outlining type, so I put Pongo in front of the ATM and let him run with it.
For a noir writer like me this is a pretty lighthearted tale, despite some sex and bloodshed, and luckily it hit just right tone for Darusha Wehm at Plan-B Magazine, one of the few outlets out there that actually pays its writers. She published it last September.
I'm was very pleased because it was one of my first published short stories. I'm currently up for an Anthony Award for another story called Dead End, winners to be announced at the Bouchercon annual world mystery convention on November 15, and I have another story called Honeymoon Sweet in the Bouchercon Anthology to be released at the convention. Both of these stories are based on tiny back-page items.
Anthony Award Nominated short story "Dead End"the prequel to Psycho Logic, a novella
Go Down Hard (Brash Books, May 2015)
A dark romp through the worlds of aging rock-and-rollers, live Internet sex shows, abusive psychiatrists, Slavic mobsters, child molesters, emotional betrayal, deceit, arson, murder and estate planning.
Craig Faustus Buck is an L.A.-based writer. Among his six nonfiction books, two were #1 NYT bestsellers. He wrote an Oscar-nominated short film. He was one of the writers on the seminal miniseries V: The Final Battle. His first noir mystery novel, Go Down Hard, will be published by Brash Books on May 5, 2015 and was First Runner Up for Killer Nashville's Claymore Award. His indie feature film, Smuggling for Gandhi, is in preproduction.