If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our March author interviews: Karen Pullen (3/1), Lowcountry Crime authors: Tina Whittle, Polly Iyer, Jonathan M. Bryant, and James M. Jackson (3/8), Annette Dashofy (3/15), Edith Maxwell (3/22) and Barb Ross (3/29).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in March: Maris Soule (3/4), and Virginia Mackey (3/11). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 3/18--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 3/25--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for pre-order.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Drunk Screenwriters Write My Family History

by Linda Rodriguez

My husband is an internationally recognized scholar in his field and a research maven, so naturally he was drawn to the project of tracing my family history with a grandmother who had married and divorced thirteen times to ten different men. Most experts like a challenge, and my convoluted family history seemed a challenge he would take on and defeat easily with his ninja research skills. This weekend at lunch, he moaned to me about the latest bizarre twist he'd uncovered. “The more information I collect, the more confusing it gets, and the less I know,” he complained.

We laughed at the strange tale he's just uncovered about my great-grandparents and the way that means he once again has much more work to do and it will be more difficult. He said, “No one would believe any novel you wrote with all the unbelievable but true stories about your family. They'd say it's too contrived and incredible.”

This left me picturing a group of drunk screenwriters sitting around, desperate to pitch a story that will excite the studio execs, get funding, and become a huge hit.


Amy says, “We'll begin with a guy who marries a woman while he's using an assumed name—and he doesn't tell her about it for years, but when he does, she has kids and goes on with him under his real name.”

Dave adds, “But they keep divorcing each other, marrying different people, then divorcing those people, and remarrying each other again and again.”

“Yeah, I like it,” says Martin. “They're each the great love of the other's life, but they just can't seem to make it work. That'll give us lots of dramatic conflict.”

“And then,” Amy continues, on a real roll now, “their oldest daughter, who's grown up with all this passionate craziness, gets married young and leaves husband and baby a year later to marry another guy, whom she leaves in less than two years with another baby, to go marry a guy with the Texas Rangers, who gets killed in a gunfight, causing her to lose another baby, and then she goes on a real tear, marrying and divorcing guys all over the place.”

Martin laughs as he's taking a swig of vodka and spits it all over. “And one of them is an immigrant from Czechoslovakia who loves her so much that he keeps hanging around even after she dumps him and remarries her whenever she's in some kind of trouble, but keeps hanging around even though she dumps him again and again.”

Dave nods with a grin. “Loyal Dobbin. Every story needs a loyal Dobbin.”

“We've got to make it weirder,” says Amy. “More complications. Maybe the Texas Ranger isn't really dead and starts trying to find her, but she's marrying all these guys and taking their names. Oh. And she starts out as Bessie, but she decides Agnes is a name with more class—she's trying to marry her way up the social ladder, a real Becky Sharp right out of Thackeray on the American frontier.”

“Nah! Make it Indian Territory before it became Oklahoma, and make her an Indian and some of these guys she marries early on Indians, too, but then she's going for richer white guys.” Dave grins again. “And of course, we've got Martin's crazy Czech hanging around, poor at first but he could be making himself richer and richer for her sake.”

“I like it!” Martin says. “And she also masquerades as someone named Dolly, when she wants to get out of a tight situation. Then, as she gets older and more settled, we've got those abandoned kids to come looking for her and make her life difficult in revenge.”

“I've got it!” shouts Dave, jumping around and half-falling over in drunken excitement. “She was the oldest of a big family and born while that father was still using a false name. Her birth name isn't even what she thinks it is. Maybe her dad was a crook or a wanted man of some kind. Maybe someone finds out and blackmails her.”

“Yes!” screams Amy. “When she's older and thinks it's all behind her, her son can come back and rape the baby sister she's always been closest to, and on her deathbed, her daughter will find her and accuse her of ruining her life and tell her she's glad she's dying.”

Martin shakes his head. “Dammit! I hate that Bette Davis is dead. Would she make a great Bessie/Agnes or what? It would be Oscars all the way. I can see it now.”

The three are now so drunk and stoned on the weed they've been smoking along the way that they just lay back in a beatific stupor, certain that they've come up with the greatest movie concept ever and their fortunes are surely made.



I am married to a man of fortitude, however, and he has only begun to fight. He's currently trying to track down the marriage certificate for that initial marriage between my great-grandparents under the false name—and who knows what new dramatic material he will uncover when he does?

17 comments:

Gloria Alden said...

This is wonderful, Linda. Yes, hard to believe, but what an interesting book it would make.Good luck to your husband in tracing all this background. I know on one side of the
family, my sister couldn't trace it beyond the first Jones who came to our area of Ohio, because Jones was such a common name of the Welsh who came over to New England.

Jim Jackson said...

Nope, too crazy for fiction – unless Tom Robbins was writing it, then it would probably fly because, after all, the Ranger would come back from the dead.

Kait said...

This is spectacular! It would make a great screenplay. I say screenplay because it would probably be necessary to have the visual continuity. Might be hard to follow in a book. Interesting family, Linda. Family reunions must be a hoot, even today.

Margaret Turkevich said...

In the South, all this would be classified as "kin," subject to lengthy discussions by everyone remotely related to the principal players.

Any pirates lurking on your tangled family tree?

storytellermary said...

My brain hurts already. I admire his persistence and your humor, and bless them for making it through however they managed it.

Grace Topping said...

Gosh! You could have relatives all over the place that you aren't even aware of. Quite a family story.

Warren Bull said...

I don't think this plot would make it as a book. However, think of the soap opera that could come from it.

Alan said...

Truth truly is stranger than fiction. And yes, the editor would toss that mess back and tell you to cut back 25% on the whiskey.

I totally believe it and would buy a copy. But then, my grandmother in law had the wrong birth date put on her twin sister's tomb stone so she would be 3 years younger. My one grandfather was almost 40 before he learned he had been celebrating his birthday about two weeks later than he should, and I learned this week that one of my other grandfathers celebrated his birthday a week early for 90 years.

Ben said...

Maybe Tolstoy was right about unhappy families being the stuff of great literature.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, thanks. I just had to make a joke of it because it's been both fascinating and frustrating.

Jim, yes. Maybe Tom Robbins, but otherwise, no go.

Kait, I couldn't see it in fiction, but I immediately saw a group of drunk, stoned screenwriters trying to outdo each other in weirdness.

Oh, Margaret, when you go further back, it only gets even weirder.

KM Rockwood said...

Good luck to your husband to figure all this out! Your probably have more kin all over the place than anybody knows about. And you couldn't make this stuff up. If you did, no one would think it was realistic enough to form the basis for a story.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Mary, yes, it seems a highly dramatic life to have lived for each generation, and experience teaches me that high drama in real life usually equals high trauma.

Oh, yes, Grace, because with all the marriages and remarriages, who knows how many kids were involved hat we haven't found evidence of yet?

Indeed, Warren. It does have the feel of a daytime drama, doesn't it?

Alan, so you also are a member of the "was everything I knew about my family growing up wrong?" crew. Feels weird, doesn't it?

Ben, I think we have the makings of a classic here. LOL

Linda Rodriguez said...

Exactly, KM! I think Warren's right that the only place it might find a home is daytime TV.

Deborah Romano said...

I was thinking mini-series!

There's plenty of "truth is stranger than fiction" material on the paternal side of my family. Sometimes I want to research it (and I LOVE research), and sometimes I want to run away from it. I don't know much about my mom's side of the family, as her parents were from Europe and were the only relatives to come to the US. My grandparents were delightful people. The only odd item I can come up with regarding them is also a date of birth discrepancy, but only by one day. My grandfather was actually a day older than the date on his birth certificate. It seems that births were not being reported in a timely manner by whoever was delivering babies in his town and fines were being imposed for late reporting. The doctor/midwife/whatever who delivered him fudged the date by one day. Dull, boring.

Deb Romano

Linda Rodriguez said...

DebRo, you may want to research that stranger than fiction side of your family. Who knows what you might find?

Shari Randall said...

Linda, this is fascinating. There are mysteries on all our family trees. Mine is a great, great Native American grandmother on my father's side. We have a beautiful old photograph but that is it. The church where they married burned down as those old wooden churches were wont to do. Lots of us are working on genealogies, trying to find out more.
My new favorite phrase: "ninja research skills"!
And I'm with Warren, your history would make a great soap.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Oh, yes, Shari, trying to find some documentation of certain facts can be really tough. It's amazing what's out there, though. The Mormons are your friends, gathering, digitizing, and documenting so much--for purposes many find offensive or nefarious, but at least they make it available to the public.