by Shelton Bumgarner
I’m going to start writing the first draft of the thriller I’m developing about March 1st, no matter where I am in development because I feel I can do both development and writing now that I have the universe down pat.
The only thing about the “normal” world that I’ve created is either it’s going to be seen as genius or completely ridiculous. Though, to be fair, it is meant to be a guilty political thriller (of sorts) pleasure for Park Slope moms who would otherwise read The New Yorker. I don’t have a wife or girlfriend to give me any context as to what I’ve thought up, so really I’m writing this because it’s something I, personally, want to read.
I want to read a cathartic novel about the Trump Era that’s breezy and fun and you don’t even realize how deep it is until a few days after you’ve finished reading it. If I achieve my goal, it will, on its surface, be a good enough beach read that there will be a sizable minority of people who might even simply see it as a thriller with an unusual conceit, but that’s doubtful.
The “normal” world of this novel is constructed in such a way that you’d have to be brain dead and living under a rock the last few years not to notice what I’m doing with it. In a sense, I guess I want this to be, for my own reading pleasure, a story in the tradition of Apocalypse Now. As you know, that movie wasn’t so much a movie about people going up the Mekong River as it was an extended metaphor about America’s involvement in Vietnam.
And, as such, that’s pretty much what’s going on with this novel at this point, at least the first draft will be that way. As I grow as a storyteller, I may be able to soften the obvious allegory to such an extent that it won’t be quite as obvious or out of place. But the story has been built from the ground up so that one character — the main character, if you will — is believable and interesting.
The thriller aspect of it is really just an excuse to have this interesting universe be put through its paces. I have some really fun scenes I want to write in my head, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. At this point, I’m barely near the end of the first act.
I’ve given myself 200,000 words to play with and as such I have plenty of words to spare whereby I can slip in my personal political views. Of course, one big problem is, well, me.
I’m a white male.
And, given how identity politics has fucked things up so much, a lot of people who might otherwise be interested in this novel, should I miraculously sell it, will click off the moment they do a Google search for my name and see what I look like.
So, like I said, this story is for me, personally at this point. And, let me be clear — this is no Cat Person. This is strictly a spec novel written by a “failed reporter” who a lot of people dismiss as a Internet crank who posts song lyrics that will never be produced.
And, since I like hot chicks and go to strip clubs on occasion, I have a “problematic” background for some, no matter how empathetic I might want to be for various people who might otherwise be interested in this tale.
But, again, this story is for me. It’s a novel I want to write so I can read it and honestly, if I manage to actually write it and flesh it out in the manner I hope, more than a few people who know me — and have no respect for me — might at least wince at how badly they misjudged me.
I do, in fact, have to actually write something.