Monday, June 30, 2014


Cover art by David L. Russell
Greetings everybody. It's been a while since I had a chance to reveal what went on behind the scenes to create a particular project, so today let's look at my last novel: HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE: CATCH A RISING STAR.

Now the first book in the series about a human private detective working on another planet in the distant future was a collection of all the short stories featuring the title character I wrote for Pro Se Press' Masked Gun Mystery magazine. Only the first 2 out of 8 were published before that and the other titles of the time were folded into Pro Se Presents.

With CATCH A RISING STAR, I intentionally set out to write longer stories, for I could only do between 10-15,000 word tales for the magazine, with several actually coming in under the minimum. When I started work on this project, CATCH was just to be the opening story of an anthology that probably would have been called Femme Fatales. Granted, I have no idea what the other case(s) in that volume would have been, for CATCH grew from being a simple story in an anthology to a novella to a full length adventure while writing it, for I just kept coming up with too much good stuff that I couldn't leave out. In fact, a subplot featuring Hugh and Ca D'r capturing a jewel thief at the Galveza Hotel had to be dropped because the novel was getting too long!

As I've stated before, this is part of the reason why I prefer working in an "open plot" format. While mysteries require a little more thought and detail into the suspects and whodunit, I just outline the main sequence of action and events to keep my options open in case a good idea comes along while writing, and boy did they on this one!

Me and Felix Silla, on the right, circa 2012
I seriously delved into Big Louie's past, laid the ground work for some major events in Hugh Monn's future (if you've figured out the clues between this and the first book), and even got to honor someone I met at the 2012 Pulp Ark convention and had a swell time with, actor Felix Silla; the man who originated the role of Cousin Itt on The Addams Family, was Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 1980s, and so much more.

Besides dedicating CATCH to him, the fact that he "portrayed" human Salexi Lilf of Stellar Studios and not some alien is because Felix said his favorite role was Litvak in The Black Bird, a 1975 movie starring George Segal, because it didn't require a major costume.
Hidden gems

Of course Felix was far from the only Easter Egg in the novel, for I'm not the first writer to base something fictitious upon something real. I couldn't resist "casting" actor/folk singer Burl Ives as Augustus Dubois of the Southern Galaxy Dubois', based upon his portrayal of Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.
And I've made no secret of basing Hugh's island nation of Galveston 2 upon my memories of growing up in Galveston, Texas (USA).

In the case of bot designations, I used number sequences that had some significance, like all the Crime Scene Investigative unit numbers were based upon the specific prime time hours of a certain television franchise, and Lawbot 714 (as mentioned before) is in honor of the late Jack Webb of Dragnet, while unit 744 is Pete Malloy's badge number on Adam-12.

Now, I only use Easter Eggs if they add to and not distract from the story. Case in point: during events at The Comet Club, Hugh ordered a "Scintillate with Asteroids", which is basically a non-alcoholic drink with ice. Yet both major words of that beverage are astronomy terms, a fact that doesn't hinder the moment.

Another aspect of science fiction that many have commented upon over the years is that you can cloak social issues of the day in the trappings of the genre. During the writing of CATCH, there were a lot of incidents involving weapons and innocent civilians being harmed or killed, which was reflected in moments like the chapter at The Comet Club.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look behind the scenes, and of course Hugh and all my creative endeavors are available from Amazon in both print and e-formats, with the first HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE book also available in audio, read by Pete Milan.

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