Ladies & Gentlemen I Present To You My Blogtalk Guest This Saturday Morning @ 10AM EST- Thomas Kaufman
Thanks, Giovanni, for letting me be here today, and hello mystery fans.
I find myself fin a funny place. I've lived and breathed STEAL THE SHOW for well over a year, but now I have to stand back and talk about the book, tell folks what it's about. You'd think that would be easy, right? But it ain't.
Maybe that's because the book contains so many elements. Weaving them together was a lot of fun, but talking about these separate elements means I have to unravel what I've done, just a little bit.
I'll start with Willis Gidney, the private eye form DRINK THE TEA, which came out last year. Gidney grew up without parents or a home, on the streets of Washington, DC. So when he finds an abandoned baby, he has a hard time simply handing her over to the authorities – he knows what will happen to her. And because he saved the child's life, he feels some responsibility towards her.
Now, most private eyes are tough, competent men and women who know exactly what they're doing. They don't make mistakes. Look at Sam spade, Phillip Marlowe, or Spencer. I love these stories, but I wanted to do something different.
So my detective, who is blinded by his own good intentions, makes one bad decision after the next. He barely survives his own mistakes. In the end things work out, but not in the way he thinks they will.
Once upon a time, in a place called Hollywood, there was a writer/director named Preston Sturgess. Playwright, inventor, film director, Sturgess was a bona fide genius, and his movie SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS may be the best Hollywood film ever made. I own a copy of the screenplay, and Sturgess wrote this short prologue. No one who saw the movie ever saw the prologue, it was written for the studio exces who read the script:
This is the story of a man who wanted to wash an elephant.
The elephant darn near ruined him.
In a way, that sums up what I'm doing with STEAL THE SHOW.
Something else that's a little different is the emphasis on character. When I wrote this book, I had to ask myself, which is the main story? Is it Gidney trying to prevent a Hollywood blockbuster from falling into the hands of film pirates (who cost the industry between 6 and 20 billion dollars a year)? Or was the story about Gidney trying to save the life of a two-year-old girl?
It comes down to who Gidney is, and for me, clearly, it was choice #2 – the girl. So what, for a different writer, may have been a subplot – Gidney and the girl – for me became the main story. I still wanted a mystery, of course, but the mystery depends on the story of the girl.
One last thing I should mention – I work in the movie business. For over 25 years I've been behind the camera, watching life unfold through the viewfinder. It gives me a perspective that maybe other people would like to read about, and I try to use that perspective when I write.
When I write a scene, I try to visualize it for the reader. Ideally, the reader can "see" the scene unfold, watch the actors move around the set, observe their body language. A lot is said through dialogue, of course, but so much is there is visually, it would be a shame to waste it. When people tell me they could "see" the story unfold, it feels like I've done my job.
I hope you get a chance to read this book, I'd love to know what you think.