Thursday, October 02, 2014

How I Came to Write "Old Friends" Frank Byrns

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How I Came to Write Old Friends

I always wanted to write something with a first-person narrator who was the bad guy. Now I'm not talking about an anti-hero, one of those guys who does the wrong things for the right reasons. No, I'm talking about a bad guy, an unapologetic criminal asshole. A narrator so unlikable, the reader would actively root against him.

And then, to ratchet up the degree of difficulty just a little more, I wanted to make this bad guy the true antagonist of the same story he was narrating.

Easy, right?

Not so much.

But, after many failed attempts and many drafts of this attempt, “Old Friends” was born, narrated by my favorite of all the  asshole characters I've ever written, Ray Dooley.

The story begins with Ray fresh out of prison, harassing the wife and kids of one of his old partners in crime, desperate to claim his share of the spoils from a long-ago heist. The heist is my other favorite part of the story; I won't spoil it (just in case you want to, you know, read it), but I will say I've always enjoyed stories where people steal things other than money (or jewels – it's always jewels).

So an asshole narrator steals something other than money, goes to prison for a while, then comes out hellbent on getting what's his, even if he has to hurt a mother and her children to get it. And tells us all about it while he does it.

You can read Ray's story in the digital pages of Plan B Magazine – hopefully he'll get what's coming to him.


Frank Byrns lives and writes crime and superhero fiction in Maryland, halfway between the Nation's Capital and the nation's heroin capital. His latest collection of stories, Adonis Morgan: Nobody Special, is now available from Pro Se Press.


Charles Gramlich said...

I can imagine this is pretty hard to do. I've written flash fiction where such a thing is revealed at the end but to carry it all the way through a story would be tough. I imagine it would be largely impossible to do so at novella or novel length.

Frank Byrns said...

Thanks for hosting, Patti!

Charles -- it was very hard to do. I worked on this for a long while before I was satisfied with it. And I can't even imagine writing a novel(la) like that. Jason Starr's Fake ID does pretty well, I think.

neer said...

This seems like an interesting p-o-v.
I amalso curious about what he actually stole: Paintings/ other artifacts.

Here's my FFB:

Neither Five Nor Three by Helen Macinnes (1951)