Sunday, October 15, 2006
briannthorntonn: Brian Thornton
denoux3124: O'Neil De Noux
dpwhite237: Dave White
g_so: Gerald So
g_so: If you have a question for O'Neil, type ? and I'll call on you. Here's a first question. What went into creating your PI, Lucien Caye?
briannthorntonn: Hi O'Neil, thanks again for your kind words about "Counting Coup." It's a pleasure to meet you. I have your story in the Nawlins issue of EQMM on my night stand. Once I finish the book for which I'm currently on deadline, I'm going to read it.
denoux3124: Before creating Lucien, I had two recurring characters (contemporary NOPD Det. LaStanza and 1890s NOPD Det. Dugas). I ALWAYS loved reading about the 30s and 40s and decided I'd create a 40s detective. Since I was a PI after leaving law enforcement, I decided I'd make Lucien Caye a PI and I'm glad I did. It's a completely different genre.
g_so: yes, a different tone to it than the cop genre.
g_so: go ahead, dave.
dpwhite237: O'Neil, can you tell us a little about your writing process?
denoux3124: Writing process. It never ends. Ever. If I'm not writing, I'm thinking about it, daydreaming out my stories. Ususally it starts with the idea or with a title. I wrote "Erotophobia" from New Orleans Confidential (NOC) after seeing the word on the internet. Get the idea. Daydream about it. Write notes until I come up with a plot. Then I outline the story in SCENES as I'll write it. Then write it and then re-write it. I let it sit for a while, go back to it and re-write it. Then I pass it to my first reader. I'm a very lucky man to have a wife who's an editor and writer. She's ruthless and helps me iron out the rough spots. I then reprint the story. Let it sit and give it one more read before sending it out.
briannthorntonn: Yes, it's amazing how many writers are grinders. It's like making a diamond.
denoux3124: Titles are so important. They can inspire a story. One night, I watched two movies back to back on cable TV. John Wayn's wonderful "Wake of the Red Witch" and a strange British movie called "Lair of the White Worm." I love those titles and thought I'd mix them up and write a story. "Lair of the Red Witch" in NOC started that way. I had to come up with a red witch and her lair and just kept on daydreaming.
dpwhite237: I do love titles... i get them from songs a lot. That's a good point.
g_so: Anyone else come up with titles before the stories? Dave, I guess you do.
dpwhite237: Yeah I do... "My Father's Gun" was a title before it was a story.
briannthorntonn: So was "Counting Coup."
briannthorntonn: And I use song titles as well. I got "The Suicide Blonde" from the title of an INXS song. And the historical that I'm going to work on once I've finished the non-fiction contract I'm currently bogged down on has a working title of "Madman Across the Water," which comes from an Elton John song.
dpwhite237: Damn, I've had that title sitting in my head for months and just haven't found a story for it :-) !
denoux3124: Songs. Yeah, you right. My story in the New Orleans Issue of EQMM is "When the Levees Break" which comes from the Led Zeppelin song "When the Levee Breaks", which one of my characters keeps playing over and over again.
denoux3124: Brian, I really liked "Counting Coup" a lot. I've been fortunate to have had a western/mystery published in EQMM with the title "The Naked Lady of Whispering Gulch", another story that started with a title.
briannthorntonn: Thanks O'Neil. I'll have to track down "The Naked Lady of Whispering Gulch." How'd you manage to crack EQMM? Janet's a tough nut.
dpwhite237: When did you decide to try and put together an anthology? and do you have plans for a novel?
denoux3124: I got tired of Xeroxing copies of my stories and put together four anthologies of previously published stories of each of my recurring characters. The three I listed earlier and my newest character, John Raven Beau. I sold LaSTANZA: NEW ORLEANS POLICE STORIES to a New Orleans publisher and was so fortunate to get PontBLANK Press interested in the Lucien Caye stories. I wrote a couple new stories for it and they did all the work. I just finished my newest novel, which is a Lucien Caye novel. My agent has it.
dpwhite237: oh very cool.
denoux3124: EQMM is a tough nut to crack. So is AHMM. One reason why I subscribe and read every issue. Janet and Linda are top editors and when they accept one of my stories, it's extra special. FYI: My acceptance rate hovers around 20% with them. They are selective and the mags reflect it. Outstanding stories in a wide variety.
briannthorntonn: I got lucky with AHMM. "Counting Coup" was only the fourth story I'd submitted to Linda.
denoux3124: I truly send them my best work, stories I've taken my time with.
briannthorntonn: Linda's already rejected one story since.
dpwhite237: I've submitted 3 so far, 2 rejections and one still out there.
denoux3124: Don't get me wrong. I've read stories in both mags I didn't like (a matter of taste) but even those are well done.
g_so: How did you decide on the 1890s for Det. Dugas?
briannthorntonn: I'd like to piggy back on that question and ask how much research you did before you started writing your historicals and how deep you go on background for your stories.
dpwhite237: I'd like to piggy back and say the 80s were weird.
denoux3124: I have a history degree and New Orleans in the 1890s was a fascinating place. The French Quarter was a Sicilian slum (I'm half French and half Sicilian). The Sicilians were struggling with the Irish, who ran NOPD, so I threw in a French-American detective into the mix. Jacques Dugas uses his brain more than his brawn and always seems to solve the mystery. Research is extremely important but I truly believe that historical fiction is FICTION first and history second. While I don't want to make mistakes and I research as best I can, I don't worry if I get a little thing wrong. The whole point of fiction is to elicit emotion in the reader, to reach out and touch a reader. If there's a mistake in grammar, punctuation or a fact that's NOT critical to a story, the hell with it.
dpwhite237: I need to take a nap after reading that :-)... that's an excellent answer.
briannthorntonn: No foolin'!
g_so: Go ahead, Dave.
dpwhite237: Apparently you've done a lot of historical New Orleans fiction... but right now New Orleans is an extremely interesting place... do you think you'll be writing about modern New Orleans at some point?
denoux3124: My five LaStanza novels are set in NO in the 70s and 80s. My John Raven Beau stories are set in NO today. I've had over a dozen of them published and my agent is shopping a Beau novel around at the moment. NO before Katina (BK) is one place. NO AK (after Katrina) is a whole other place. I'm writing stuff right now about NO AK (using Beau and LaStanza). I like having recurring characters.
dpwhite237: Very nice. Sorry, I haven't gotten a chance to read your stuff O'Neil, but I'm always interested in other writer's takes on writing and character.
g_so: Dave is a fan of smooth writing, and I'd describe O'Neil's writing as smooth.
g_so: Can you tell us more about John Raven Beau?
denoux3124: Hey, you can't read everything. John Raven Beau is half-Cajun and half-Sioux. I was inspired to create him after reading the CHEYENNE Series of novels by my best friend John Edward Ames (who wrote the series under psedonym Judd Cole). My paternal grandmother was Cajun. I'm having a lot of fun with Beau who balances the carefree Cajun disposition against the dead serious Sioux nature. He even carries an obsidian knife, like a good plains warrior.
denoux3124: Beau is the main character in "When The Levees Break"
dpwhite237: oh okay
g_so: Great title.
dpwhite237: What do you see in New Orleans since Katrina? How do you capture that in your writing?
denoux3124: New Orleans AK is so different, not only physically (we have more hookers since we have less cops, more gangs, more violence and more coyotes and other wildlife) but emotionally. We're still recovering from a knockout and there's a little brain damage. NO is like a punch-drunk fighter who will never give up because New Orleans isn't The Big Easy ... NO is America's eternal city. Born European and occupied by so many nationalities, she's an island all to herself. Capturing her is never easy but trying is a lot of fun.
dpwhite237: that is cool, trying to capture the city in writing.
denoux3124: Setting, as in capturing NO in a story, is not just the names of restaurants (like so many TOURIST writers do). It's not even just the descriptions of buildings, streets, parks. It's the sensory details, the sounds, smells, feel, the dialogue, taste of the cuisine. Setting is very important and I usually go to the places in NO I want to use in the stories/novels. I sit there and observe and take notes. A pocket tape recorder is helpful. I've even used a video camera.
dpwhite237: Setting is interesting... I haven't figured out how to characterize NJ yet, but I'm getting there.
g_so: Do you have a favorite story of your own, O'Neil?
denoux3124: I have a number of favorites. One is "Unicorns on Octavion" because with it I broke into the Children's Fiction market (Cricket Magazine) and I wrote it for my daughter, who's the main character. Is it my best written story, probably not. One of my first LaStanza stories, "The Desire Streetcar" is one of my favorites, along with "St. Expedite" and "Expect Consquences" from NOC. A couple of my Beau stories I like a lot are, "Love and Murder" and "Murder Most Sweet" (Both were in EQMM). Dugas is in several of my favorites, "The Murders Along The Rue Frenchmen" and "Maria's Hand" which is an Amazon Short on amazon.com (along with another Lucien Caye story "Guilty of Dust and Sin".).
briannthorntonn: I originally wrote Counting Coup for submission to an anthology called "City Crimes Country Crimes" that emphasized setting as being as important as character. There needed to be a strong sense of place. I think your setting is not only as important as character. I think if you do it right, your sense of place is so strong that it *is* another chracter in the story.
g_so: About to wrap up. Final questions, anyone?
dpwhite237: Actually I have to get out of here... have a great night guys... Thanks O'Neil.
briannthorntonn: O'Neil, what's on the burner for you project wise?
g_so: bye, dave.
briannthorntonn: Good bye Dave.
denoux3124: I'm writing a John Raven Beau three-book miniseries (comics) because I met an illustrator. I'm also writing another novel set in 1947 with none of my recurring characters.
briannthorntonn: Cool, you're keeping busy.:)
g_so: wow, the latter should be a challenge.
denoux3124: Before we go away, I want to thank y'all for having me. It's been fun.
g_so: Great having you, O'Neil. hanks for making the time.
briannthorntonn: And thanks for hosting it, Gerald.
g_so: Most welcome, Brian.