The biggest falsehood told to new writers is the phrase, ‘Write what you know.’ If I was to follow that maxim you would read nothing from me but boring tomes about small town, small minded middle class Canadians – or rather you wouldn’t be reading them since such books would bore even me to tears. If writers didn’t stretch their literary wings past the realms of what we know or have experienced over half of the great and not so great literature of today wouldn’t exist.
I very much doubt Stephanie Meyers ever met a vampire, let alone fell in love with one. Or that Douglas Adams ever had dinner at the restaurant at the end of the universe (though it sounded like fun) I doubt Isaac Asimov traveled to distant planets or knew any humanoid robots, good or bad. And I certainly hope no one thinks Thomas Harris ever dined on anyone’s body parts. And does anyone believe that Laura Baumbach and Josh Lanyon were major drug dealers in Mexico before they wrote Mexican Heat? If they were, I’d like to hear that story! (continue reading…)
How do I kill thee?
Let me count the ways.
There are few sights more awesome than flying into Los Angeles at night. You’re high above a pitch-dark desert and then, it seems to happen all at once, you are sailing over a carpet of sparkling jewels. The plane slows, time stands still, and the glittering lights go on and on, as far as the eye can see. Could anything, you wonder, really be so vast?
Yes, it is. And therein lies a problem when one tries to write about the city, and particularly when one wants to write about the mysteries of the city: which city, exactly? Because there are a myriad of L.A.s, encompassing both time and space, and all of them steeped in mystery, murder, violence.
There’s the split personality L.A. of the thirties and forties, rigidly conservative on the outside, wildly bohemian on the inside (for inside, read: the film set); there’s the noir L.A. of the forties and fifties; the suddenly sophisticated L.A. of the eighties and nineties, the jam packed road rage city of the new century. (continue reading…)