Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Heart of Fortune #2

Hey there, glad you could stop back by for a visit.  We never did finish that talk we were having about Fortune McCall, did we?  Well, let’s get back into it.  Make yourself comfortable.

Now, where were we?  Oh, I was talking about how Tommy Hancock had asked me to contribute to his Sovereign City Project and I wussied out by proposing a generic white 1930’s pulp hero type instead of following my natural instincts and giving him a black adventurer set in the 1930’s.

As I said earlier, I just didn’t think I could pull it off convincingly.  Tommy and I swapped emails, spoke on the phone and during the course of those conversations, I told him about Fortune McCall and he said, “That’s who you should be doing for Sovereign City.”  Again, I wasn’t entirely convinced but the more I thought about it, the more I came around to Tommy’s way of thinking.  Fortune’s being African royalty meant that he saw American culture in a totally different way than that of an American born black man.  Just that fact that his circle of friends is multinational shows he’s a character with a vastly different way of thinking and living.  But he’s still a man very much aware of the society and cultures he operates in.  Despite his wealth, his obvious intelligence and education, he has no illusions about how he is viewed.  And he knows he can’t change that.  The only thing he can do is be a man amongst men and let his deeds speak for the quality of his character.

And to me, writing has to constantly be a challenge.  It’s supposed to be a process by which every single story enables me to build up more creative muscles, do things with character and themes I’ve never done before.  I’ll be honest here; the original character I submitted to Tommy was born out of laziness and I should be hosswhipped for having tried to fast shuffle him.  But if there’s one thing I like and respect about Tommy is that he’ll call me on my bullshit and he did.

Fortune McCall is a character that I realized that I probably needed to do as I didn’t want people to think that all I could do was variations and knockoffs of my own Dillon and whatever else Fortune McCall is, he certainly isn’t that.  And as I rewrote that first story to place it in the 1930’s I found to my own delighted surprise that placing Fortune and his team in that time period actually made them more interesting and exciting to me.  I was able to strip away a lot of the high-tech gizmos and foofaraw I had been using to take shortcuts in the story and have a character that relied more on his brain, brawn and the skills of his friends than fancy gadgets.  And it’s always exciting when somebody else gives me a new playground to work in.  Especially when it’s a shared environment like Sovereign City.  You can bend the rules, break ‘em, make ‘em up and who’s to tell you you’re wrong?

And remember earlier when I was telling you that I wanted my Sovereign City character to be a Shadow-analog type to go along with Lazarus Gray/The Avenger and Doc Daye/Doc Savage?  Well, by placing Fortune McCall in the 1930’s I found that I could utilize that idea even better than I did with that crappy character I came up with and it worked far better with Fortune.

So first of all I had to establish his character and that of his team, tell how they come to Sovereign City and why he decides to stay there.  How he comes to the city and his first adventure there is detailed in his first recorded adventure “The Scarlet Courtesan of Sovereign City” which first appeared in Pro Se Presents: Masked Gun Mystery #2.  The second Fortune McCall story, “The Day of The Silent Death” appeared in Pro Se Presents: Fantasy and Fear #3.

Now here’s where things start to get interesting.  Tommy calls me up nonchalantly (as he is wont to do) and wonders how I would feel about doing a Fortune McCall book.  Plans have changed (and with Tommy that’s at least three times a week) and instead of Lazarus Gray, Doc Daye and Fortune McCall appearing in magazines, Tommy proposed that they be featured in their own anthologies/novels.  Of course this meant that I had to come up with two more Fortune McCall stories to make up a decent book and so I have: “The Sorceress of Sovereign City” and “The Gold of Box 850” are going to join the first two stories in The Adventures of Fortune McCall.  Coming soon, I promise.

So that’s the bare bones of what you need to know about Fortune McCall.  At least for now.  There’s other aspects about the character and the whole Sovereign City Project I want to get into but I know you’ve got to go and I’ve got to get back to work.  Thanks again for stopping by.  Oh, and since I know you appreciate quality artwork here’s an illustration that was done by Clayton Hinkle for “Day of The Silent Death”:



 Until we get together again, read something good, okay?