Friday, August 4, 2017

Author POV: A Portrait of Steal Life

On November 7, 2009, my favorite mixed martial artist, Fedor Emelianenko upped his consecutive winning streak to twenty-six, unprecedented in the world of combat sports. On the same night, I began writing chapter one of Les Cannibales, my first published book. Here’s what it’s about:

During a robbery, Blinky sees police activity down the street. His crew assumes cops have the art gallery surrounded, unaware of their true presence, which is responding to a car accident that has left one man dead. The thieves shoot at responding officers and take hostages. When Detective Reynolds arrives on the scene, he identifies the dead man involved in the car accident. This becomes his main lead to hunt down the thieves’ true identities and work out a peaceful resolution before S.W.A.T moves in.

Each thief has a story explaining why he chose to take the job. Inky is a con artist repaying an old debt, Blinky is a stuntman in need of quick cash, Pinky is an enforcer that’s looking to move up in the ranks and Clyde is a sociopath/art aficionado that loves to steal. When S.W.A.T teams get the go-ahead to overtake the gallery, it’s dog-eat-dog as the gunmen plan their escape.

Jump back a week, car parked curbside on San Pablo avenue. Two cars up, a person stepped out of their parked car, the driver door sticking out far enough some might consider it hazardous to passing vehicles. Without much effort, I found myself lost to woolgathering, waiting for my wife to return with coffee. This is how I come up with most stories—sitting there, bored, waiting on someone else.

“What if that person was struck by a car due to some technicality like crossing the line?” I muttered out loud. “That’d be somethin’.” I regressed further, falling deeper into the vortex of my imagination. Suddenly, viola—chapter one. When I got it down on paper, it reminded me of that unexpected scene in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta’s character accidentally shoots Marvin in the face.

Jump ahead a few weeks later, I caught an interview Quentin Tarantino gave to film students. One student asked Quentin: “What do I need to do to become a great director?”

“Write a movie like Reservoir Dogs,” was Tarantino’s response. Cue: standing ovation. Cut to: me planting myself in front of the typewriter, beginning chapter two.

The first draft was novel length (still have a hard copy on file). Originally, Les Cannibales contained fictionalized stories of actual art heists that occurred throughout history. Think of the theft of Mona Lisa in 1911, thieves seizing two Renoir  from the National Museum in Stockholm with submachine guns, and $300 million worth of art taken from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. The idea was to authenticate my story’s crime by highlighting actual crimes that have occurred. In later versions, I decided on axing those chapters—instead incorporating elements from those anecdotes into the crime I made up.

I wrote Les Cannibales eight years ago. To see it find a home with Shotgun Honey and Down & Out Books is a dream come true. Be a pal and check it out after you read this. Go ahead, give Les Cannibales a chance. You’ll be surprised with what you discover.

Thanks,
DeLeon