Off And Running--The Baghdad Five-Hundred

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I'm one of those "don't-let-the-fizz-out-of-the-bottle" types when it comes to talking about my story--or in this case novel--ideas.  I'm not sure if my reluctance is because I'm afraid someone will steal my idea or whether I just don't want to get the that funny look that says "WTF?" so early in the fiction development process, but either way I've always tended to keep my cards pretty close to my chest.

All that changes today.  I told you guys I'd share some information about the novel idea I'm working on and here it is.  I started my first draft this morning, and I'm happy as a clam--to finally be writing on it and to finally be done with the research stage (uh!) and onto something more productive.

I'll tell you all about the concept, but you have to promise you won't tell another soul.  Truly.  No, not even your bestest bestest buddy.  OK.  Alright.

I'm a big World War II buff.  That's probably because my Great Uncle Frownie (my mother's brother's dad) was a mailclerk in a Post Office in Dublin (Ohio), and not only did they watch Saving Private Ryan on the VCR three times a week in the offiice, but he painted world-class U.S. Army paratrooper figurines.  It was almost like the guy had been in combat himself.

One night over beers and leftover blowfish a la King (my Aunt Charmin cooks a mean blowfish a la King), he got to telling me that it's a little known fact that back in WWII, the Germans actually used to stage a road rally in the Moroccan Desert in 1942-1945.  At first it was some cockamamie idea Erwin Rommel (better known as the Desert Fox) came up with to raise morale, but soon the Fuhrer himself Adolf Hitler got behind the effort, and the event turned into a full blown extravaganza.  By the third year, crews were bringing souped up cars and Kubelwagens in from as far away as Cairo to race in the event, and First Prize was a seven day, seven night all-expenses paid trip to Disneyland.  Talk about cool!

Anyway, I got to thinking about this whole idea--having a road race in the middle of a combat zone--and also thinking about how I just came back from a combat zone and so could probably write responsibly about a story in that setting.  I knew I'd have to tread carefully--I mean the whole thing sounds pretty unbelievable, doesn't it?--but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I updated it to today and changed a few things--like a modern-day Saving Private Ryan meets Fast and Furious, set in Baghdad--then this might be the kind of high concept, blockbuster fiction that all the agents are looking for.

To make it work, I was gonna need two things.  First, a really strong MC.  I brainstormed, and finally decided my MC would be an amalgam of Indiana Jones, Han Solo, Jack Ryan, Henry (or Regarding Henry fame), and Pee Wee Herman (gotta have a humorous element in there somewhere).  Some good possibilities for leading ladies are Princess Leia and...well that's pretty much it right now.

Second, I was gonna need something supernatural.  I knew vampires were out--since after "Twilight" and Lost Boys and Bram Stoker's "Dracula", they're so overdone.  I mean after 110 years or so of these guys, readers can only take so much.  So I hit upon a solution: gargoyles.  I mean nobody has thought of using gargoyles yet, and they're so action packed and visual and they look so scary on all those European churches, so I mean they're like perfect.  I am trying to think of some way of working them into the storyline (hood ornaments?) but when I do, I know that they're really going to take this story idea to Warp Ten.

Also, when I do my world building, I think lifting some elements from a few recent sci-fi movies like Avatar will give the prose that marketable quality I think is so elusive, but desirable right now.

I'm still coming up with the plotline--maybe something like Death Race 2000 meets Driving Miss Daisy meets Koyaanisqatsi meets Eraserhead meets Revenge of the Nerds--and I certainly haven't made any firm decisions about style and voice, although I always really enjoyed the tranquil easy quality of the prose in "Thus Spoke Zarathustra".  Basically, I'm still figuring it out.

Working title: "The Baghdad Five-Hundred".  As I said, I am finally excited to have an idea I think worthy of some real effort, and I will of course keep you all in the know as I work on it further.  I would love to get some feedback from you guys on what you think so far.

In other news, Google officially changed their company name to Topeka, so many cool things happening on this first day of April.

So, what are you working on now?  Take a second to tell me about your current WIP (or make something up?!?!).  What really really really makes you laugh--or cry--or carry on like a chimpanzee on amphetamines?

LATE EDIT: Also, it appears there's been a decision to do away with "Z" as a letter in the alphabet.  And just when I finally learned to spell zygodactylic!

9 bolts from the blue:

Claire Dawn said...

um... lol?

Elizabeth Turner would also make a great lead, or the Tomb Raider or Resident Evil chicks :)

Summer said...

I'm hugely gullible and therefore afraid of commenting seriously on any posts today. That being said, regardless of whether your idea is a joke, I think it sounds awesome and I would totally read it/see it/talk about it to my friends.

My WIP is a post-apocalyptic-urban-fantasy-Greek-tragedy.

I'm one of those people who laughs at almost everything. Really.

Falen said...

oh i also don't like to "let the fizz out of the bottle". I don't know why and i've gotten a bit better about it, i just think i'm a bit paranoid that i'll jinx myself somehow

Crimey said...

Okay, your MC is awesome! Indiana Jones, Hans Solo, Jack Ryan meets Pee Wee. I tip my hat to you. By the way, you better not be April Fooling us. For Real!

Liza said...

I'm like Summer, totally gullible, so I'm not commenting...other than to sure have a lot of energy and creativity, regardless of what your novel might be about.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I think that sounds bad ass. I just read a winning query about gargoyles a couple weeks ago. So maybe they will be the next big craze in the supernatural world.

I would def read it! Hope it's not an April Fools Day joke.

Best Bedtime Story Ever

Niki said...

awww is this a joke? I thought it sounded great! hehe ooh especially the gargoyle :o))

Talli Roland said...

Hm. The above comments have made me sceptical as to if you're being truthful, but I do have to say I love the title!

Postman said...

Koyaanisqatsi? Seriously, dude? Where'd that bit come from? The rest of it I can understand, but jeez...

Glad to have you back and blogging, sir. I have left you an award over at my place. I shall try to leave more useful comments from now on.

Waddaya wanna say?

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