11 April 2015

Go Away, Space Angel! I'm Trying to Write Crime

by Melodie Campbell

A funny thing happened on the way to the crime book: it became a comic sci-fi spy novella.

That’s the frustrating thing about being a fiction writer.  Sometimes you don’t pick your characters – they pick you.

I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when…no, that’s not how it happened.

It was far worse.

“Write a spy novel!” said the notable crime reviewer (one of that rare breed who still has a newspaper column.) We were yapping over a few drinks last spring.  “A funny one. Modesty Blaise meets Maxwell Smart, only in modern day, of course.”

“Sure!” I said, slurping Pinot by the $16 glass.  After all, crime is my thing.  I was weaned on Agatha Christie.  I had 40 crime short stories and 5 crime books published to date.  This sounded like the perfect 'next series' to write.

And I intended to.  Truly I did.  I tried all summer. I even met with a former CSIS operative to get the scoop on the spy biz (think CIA, but Canada – yes, he was polite.)    

Wrote for two months solid.  The result was…kinda flat.  (I blame the Pinot.  Never take up a book-writing dare with a 9 oz. glass of Pinot in your hand. Ditto good single malt.  THAT resulted in a piece of erotica that shall forever be known under a different name…  But I digress.)

Back to the crime book.  I started to hate it.  

Then, in the middle of the night (WHY does this always happens in the middle of the night?) a few characters started popping up.  Colourful, fun characters, from another time. They took my mind by siege.  “GO AWAY,” I told them. “I’m trying to write a crime book!”

They didn’t.  It was a criminal sit-in.  They wouldn’t leave until I agreed to write their tale.
So the modern day spy novel became a futuristic spy novel.  Modesty Blaise runs a bar on a space-station, so to speak.  Crime in Space, with the kind of comedy you might expect from a descendent of The Goddaughter.

Two more months spent in feverish writing.  Another two in rewrites.  Then another, to convince my publisher that the project had legs.

CODE NAME: GYPSY MOTH is the result.  Yet another crossing the genres escapade.

Written by me, and a motley crew of night visitors.

Now hopefully they will keep it down in there so I can sleep.

CODE NAME: GYPSY MOTH
“Comedy and Space Opera – a blast to read” (former editor Distant Suns magazine)
“a worthy tribute to Douglas Adams”  (Cathy Astolfo, award-winning author)

It isn't easy being a female barkeep in the final frontier...especially when you’re also a spy!

Nell Romana loves two things: the Blue Angel Bar, and Dalamar, a notorious modern-day knight for hire.  Too bad he doesn't know she is actually an undercover agent.  When Dalamar is called away on a routine job, Nell uncovers a rebel plot to overthrow the Federation. She has to act fast and alone. 

Then the worst happens.  Her cover is blown…

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The Toronto Sun called her Canada’s “Queen of Comedy.”  Library Journal compared her to Janet Evanovich.  Melodie Campbell got her start writing standup.  She has over 200 publications and nine awards for fiction.  Code Name: Gypsy Moth (Imajin Books) is her eighth book.

10 comments:

Leigh Lundin said...

Douglas Adams! That's quite a compliment, Melodie! Congratulations!

Fran Rizer said...

Better take care crossing those genre lines, Melodie! Seriously, congrats on the new book despite its Pinot beginning.

Melodie Campbell said...

Thank you, Leigh. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of the top 3 books on my fave list. I think Marvin the depressed robot is one of the best characters ever invented.

Melodie Campbell said...

Fran, I simply must steal that term you've just invented, "Pinot beginnings"

David Dean said...

I had a similar metamorphosis writing "Her Terrible Beauty", Melodie. It began humbly enough as a Southern Gothic mystery, then somehow grew into an exercise in magic realism among other things. Sometimes they just go where they want to go.

Congrats on the book!

Melodie Campbell said...

David, it almost seems to be a curse. You start out as a perfectly respectable author, win a few awards, and then become a target for unscrupulous characters everywhere. It's fiendish.

Paul D. Marks said...

Congratulations, Melodie!

And it's true, sometimes our characters just take on a life of their own. Sounds like it worked out well for you. :)

Melodie Campbell said...

Paul, we'll see. I'm crossing genres here, and that's always risky for sales. But sometimes you have to write just for fun. This is my indulgence piece.

Anonymous said...

Some days I can be so dimwitted. There is a lot of noise and yelping as I tried to read your article but at first I read : crossing gender lines. Oops. Yes, I prefer genre. Sounds fun in fact.

Melodie Campbell said...

Now, THAT would be a whole different type of book, Anon!