Saturday, July 29, 2006

Writing Noir

I finished writing my storyt for Bronx Noir which should be coming out from Akashic sometime next year I think. It's a harsh story from a guy known, if known at all, for writing happy, happy joy, joy* stories. I also finished writing a hard-boiled noir novel. Strange experiences. Apparently I do Noir well. Not sure why. I'm a pretty optimistic guy.

In any event, the novel I wrote previous to the noir one is an amatuer sleuth with a strong female protagonist. It has some of the best scenes I've ever written. My agent called it chick-litty. I suppose it is. She does fall in love. And she does discuss eating (very healthy appetite that Lucy Aponte). But then at least four people are murdered and the heroine shoots someone at point blank range. First time she's ever handled a gun, too. Someone else gets a bullet at point blank. I don't think I've ever read chick-lit (excluding the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen), but I've seen some of the movies. I missed the part where Bridget Jones handles a Luger.

Anyway, the straight-forward noir novel was sent off to my agent after Independence Day. She sent out three chapters and a synopsis a few days ago and got an offer. Can't say more since the offer hasn't been accepted and, who knows, they might read the rest of the book and beg off. Still, that was quick. The editor raved about my writing. The agent raved about my writing**. No one else has read any portion of it.

So I feel like I'm a success at writing Noir. That'll probably wear off. Still, there's no future in all senses of the phrase. Who publishes Noir? And gives writers enough money to live on? Not that I've ever been given enough money to live on, but I have hopes.

That's the other problem with writing noir, I think. I don't believe in a world where you're necessarily screwed from the get go. I don't think Noir is more realistic than cozy. I think it takes all kinds. I think the interest I have in writing or reading a Noir novel is in watching the struggle of a protagonist against ultimately overwhelming odds. The STRUGGLE is what interests me. Tilting at windmills. This is hope and faith. This is love, too. Sometimes, this all gets frustrated. Sometimes faith, hope and love are not enough for a specific outcome to be achieved. That's Noir. But in a good Noir story, those elements are there, possibly even heigthened.

Best Noir novel I've read: Sara Gran's Dope. Manuel Ramos's Moony's Road to Hell is a close second. Of course, these might be the only ones I've read.

*I think that happy, happy... stuff is from Demolition Man starring Bullock, Snipes and Stallone.

** Not always the case. See Chick-lit comment above.


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