Thursday, December 01, 2011

How I Came to Write This Story; Heath Lowrance and Court Merrigan

How I Came to Write “I Wanna Be Your Dog” for OFF THE RECORD

By Heath Lowrance

I never knew my real father, and had a troubled relationship with my step-dad, growing up. He was a decent guy and all, we just never connected well. Neither one of us knew what the hell we were doing. And when I discovered punk rock and the whole seedy underbelly of popular culture that came with it, the rift between us grew even greater. At sixteen, I started a long process of rebellion without even realizing I was doing it, and to my step-dad’s way of thinking I was letting everyone down by not following the prescribed course. I didn’t care.

I grew up, eventually (although I suppose that’s debatable…) and at a relatively late age learned the value of being responsible to those around me. But that particular bridge between me and my step-dad was burned beyond repair. Ah, well. We all leave some wreckage behind us.

One side-effect of my misspent youth—and probably also the fact that I didn’t know my birth father—was and is a set of nagging “daddy issues”. Yeah, I still have them, to some degree, although being a father myself now has gone a long way toward forcing me to deal with them. But they’re still there, just enough to pop up unexpectedly in my work sometimes. That’s what happened with “I Wanna Be Your Dog”.

Luca Veste asked me if I wanted to contribute a story to the anthology OFF THE RECORD, a great and noble project with proceeds going to children’s literacy charities on both sides of the Atlantic. Who but a complete ass could say no to that? He gave me the choice of song title I wanted to use, and almost instantly I decided on Iggy and the Stooges song of joyful degradation.

I had no idea when I sat down to write it what it would be about—I just opened up the sub-conscious and let ‘er rip. And guess what popped in there? Yeah. The old “daddy issues”. Okay, so be it. I think it’s a good story, surrounded on all sides by 37 other good and great stories. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is particularly nasty and vicious, though—I know because I felt that evil little grin on face while writing it.

Hope it causes an evil little grin on your face, too.

Court Merrigan, Back in Black

Thanks very much to Patti for offering this space to talk about my story. And I'd like to thank Luca Veste for inviting me to be part of this anthology. If you haven't yet - GO GET IT! All for a good cause.

BACK IN BLACK came about from the mixing and mingling of these three factors:

1) I'd already written a story about this character, Hiram Van, halfbreed killer for hire in Thailand. It's currently sitting in a submission queue, waiting and hoping to see the light of day. So this story is actually the third installment of what I hope will turn into a series.

2) I used to work at a hotel / resort in Pattaya, aka Sex & Sun Capital of Asia. I was a corporate trainer and a newlywed, a strange combination in a city built upon commercialized hedonism. The resort was right along the beach and I used to walk down the promenade, taking in the hookers and pimps and pushers and ladyboys - pretty much like the story has it. There were rows of go-go bars pressed right to the street and for some reason I used to always hear "Back In Black" by AC/DC pumping out of this one go-go. I think it was their theme song or something.

I didn't write much about this at the time, but filed it away for future use. Like this.

3) While I was living in Pattaya, a couple Russian girls were shot and killed on the beach, execution-style. There's plenty of petty crime in Pattaya, but the locals don't pull shit like that on tourists, ever, that I heard of; it was pretty much assumed that the two young women had gotten the wrong wires crossed back in Mother Russia. No one was every apprehended, no motive was ever given. Just two dead girls on the beach.

For BACK IN BLACK, I gave them a story. Not one any grimmer than their actual reality, I'd wager.

Court Merrigan has been published widely, including PANK, A Twist of Noir, Shotgun Honey, Necessary Fiction, and Evergreen Review. You can find links at He lives in Wyoming’s banana belt with his family.


Anonymous said...

“I Wanna Be Your Dog” is particularly nasty and vicious, though—I know because I felt that evil little grin on face while writing it.

Haha - I recognize that feeling even though I don´t really write noir.

Dorte H.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Great to hear more about two excellent stories. "Back in Black" is a sharp read. And Lowrance's story is one of seriously disturbing. Even for him

Anonymous said...

Thanks to both of you for sharing your stories. It's so very interesting, isn't it, how powerful our pasts are in shaping what we write. Large and small, our experiences are always there affecting the way we see the world and therefore, the way we write...