Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day to you all. I trust all of you had a safe and enjoyable holiday. I enjoyed my first real Christmas in four years. It was enjoyable because I spent it hanging out with my daughter. Three years ago, my marriage ended, and I frankly hadn’t celebrated the holidays since. A single relationship can make all the difference – for good or bad – can it not? Anyway, the whole thing left the holidays a bit of an Ex-mess, if you know what I mean.
Being one-on-one with my daughter always holds tidbits of delight for me. Being a father, it is wonderful seeing myself in someone so otherwise different than me. These points of similarity mostly come through in minor details, those easy to miss. For instance, it began to snow on Christmas Eve, and rather than being delighted, we both immediately began grumbling about how we hate snow. Later, we’re playing Christmas carols, and my least favorite comes on, which I mention to my kid. She responds by saying, “I don’t like the singer’s voice.” Not important, but that was precisely why I disliked the song. Given the singer was John Lennon, it likely had more to do with genetics and familial tastes than a lack of talent by the artist.
After picking my daughter up, I immediately headed to IHOP, which I almost always do alone (but tell no one.) She asks, “Do the people at IHOP know you by name?”
“No,” I say, wondering how she knew I even went there. It’s been years since I took her. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when one of my presents was an IHOP gift card.
The gift wasn’t the card, or the food. The gift was my daughter knowing something I never told her, or anyone else. The gift was our relationship.
I try to use small details like that when I write too. Assuming I ignore the constant inner voice telling me, “It’s no use; quit writing,” my next project will be a set of mystery/suspense stories featuring a pair of characters I introduced in the short story “Crazy Magnet.” They are Jeanne Dark, nee D’Arc, and her partner, Foster Cain. Foss is the narrator, and Dark’s “Dr. Watson.” (Foss is not nearly as refined as Watson, though more street savvy. Savvy?)
Foss is a “Security Subject Matter Expert” working for Government Intelligence agencies with a dual-edged gift, which he calls his “crazy magnet.” Not only is he adept at determining and profiling all sorts of unstable behavior, crazy people are just plain drawn to him. (This is the first gift I’ve ever given a character that’s based on my real life.) Foss keeps the bills paid by the usual “Is my new girlfriend crazy?” jobs, while trying to expand his base of work for the Gov, profiling and catching bad guys.
His partner, whom he meets in “Crazy Magnet,” has a gift of her own. She is a synesthete of almost unheard of proportions. Not only do sounds have colors like many synesthetes, but all of her senses are mixed, and highly attuned. Her jumbled array of sensory inputs give her insights to others that Foss is never quite certain isn’t simply psychosis. Still, they are learning to be an adept and complementary team – though a bit prone to finding themselves in trouble.
Given Dark’s unusual view of the world, and savant-level memory, I’m looking forward to adding the small types of details I mentioned before. Dark, you see, will never believe a detail too small. Foss, to his credit, notices Dark. After all, partner or no, she intrigues him, and the crazy magnet works both ways (which he never understood until meeting her). I hope you check out “Crazy Magnet” in my short story collection (The Juice and Other Stories). I’m just getting started on those two, but I’m already in love with their energy.
I had decided I needed to re-read some Sherlock Holmes adventures to review how Dr. Watson narrates, as well as picking up some inspiration. Coincidentally, I ran across a Tweet citing Doyle’s entire Holmes collection free on Amazon. So, I know what I’ll be reading, while I impatiently await some feedback on Foss and Dark.
I will post an excerpt from “Crazy Magnet” tomorrow. Stay Tuned. Or don’t. I’ll just sit here and pout.
You’re always so mean to me.