Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be bringing to you all a guest post courtesy of Ani Fox author of the recently released book The Autumn War (January 10th 2017).
Without further ado it’s over to Ani Fox:
The Polish Sex Trade, Derringers and Writing
People ask me how I think up my stories, where I get my strange ideas. In many cases it’s pure random chance that puts four or five odd ideas together and story emerges. But it all starts with watching people, watching life unfold and getting uncomfortable in the process.
On occasion I do things well out of my ordinary routines, even – or especially – if they are disconcerting, which enlarge my life experiences. This week I spent time haunting a Warsaw hotel bar with a French entrepreneur watching people come and go. Among them were a couple we identified as a sex worker and her client. Aurélian watched me watching them, their dance, his subtle nervousness, her apparent normalcy in jeans and a crisp t-shirt. “This is going in your book isn’t it?”
When I was a teenager, every teacher and artist I could get my hands on told me to “write what you know.” So I try to know cool stuff and to watch, where experience might be inappropriate, others doing cool stuff. My last novel involved, crime, combat, torture, commandos, helicopter gunships and disguising a SUV. None of which I know firsthand. Unless you consider American high school torture. So I spend time lurking and watching, reading and asking questions.
Some writers opt for staggering verisimilitude backed by ugly precision with details. I’m more fluffy and lucky enough to write speculative fiction, so all my worlds are twisted enough to fudge the really minute minutiae as long as I capture the Platonic essence of the situation. The ideal shape of it, if you will.
Which brings us back to the woman selling her wares. We watched and commented as she engaged this man. Was it a date? They seemed familiar but she was very much out of his league and younger. They spoke English despite her being clearly Polish and him being some kind of European. So not local to one another. Details started to coalesce. Her clothes did not match his – cheaper and more casual, but somehow wholesome. Except that she had some kind of super push up bra that made her already prodigious bust look like a loaded torpedo rack. Then she stood up and left, two bags in hand. One a purse and the other, a larger purse. Why the 2nd bag asks my counterpart. Then it hits me. To keep the clothes she’ll wear for later. And then we know the story – or think we do.
Alone, that incident is just a fuzzy oddment among a collection of bric a brac of human behavior. Some frisson, some mystery, a little horror and a dash of sexual tension. Then my social media feed started in on Russian politics, a dude arrested in Baltimore with a crappy gun and various sff conventions. Aha, a story detail to be had!
Now our call girl perhaps has a derringer, an old gun, perhaps even an antique. We are in Warsaw after all, filled with the old. A relic then of the War to end Wars. And she a survivor of some tragedy, some dark horror that has nothing to do with her present trade. What trade? Hmm. Russian politics and all the ugly allegations fly back and forth, each side calling the other monsters and liars. So she’s a monster hunter, with an ancient gun, prowling the hotels of Poland looking for someone, some sign of her prey.
The story has a little nugget, but perhaps not a plot. In many cases our blond goddess / killer angel might lurk for a week or a decade in the closet of cool story ideas until some such other detail tumbles out. Perhaps Sunday brunch at the Bristol, next to the Polish presidential palace. Or the insane fashion conventions of Milan. Or perhaps some old conceit I adore, like Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, where revenge is served with brick and mortar. Collect enough of these and a good (or bad) story tumbles out.
Then a sentence might appear, a whisper from the darkness beyond: “I consider myself a worldly man, a Parisian of flexible sensibilities, a modern soul who does not judge. I should have judged and now, the hotel in flames, my hands dripping with my lover’s blood, it seems too late we learn the truth: none of us men can escape the ancient past.” It takes the whole process of watching and makes that the story, of me and my Parisian friend paying attention and perhaps, this seems a good place to carve out a plot, missing all the important points.
Mind you, after reading my story on the Anti-Christ or Nazi breeding programs generating imperfect supermen subject to nanites enabled mind control, knowing I built all those from some version of life experience might cut down on the party invitations. Or double them. Time will tell and it’s a good bet that I’m spending most the party distracted by my future characters and plots. Until someone turns to me and says, “Oh you’re writer? Where do you get your ideas?”
About Ani Fox:
Ani Fox lives in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg – the heart of ancient Europe. He’s published short fiction in Jim Baen’s Universe as well as in the Ragnarok Publications anthology Corrupts Absolutely? The Autumn War is his first published novel. In his spare time he holds down a day job, serves as Editor in Chief for the European Review of Speculative Fiction and does what his cat tells him. He holds a BA in History from the Rutgers University, a PhD (ABD) in World History from the Australian National University and a PhD in Indigenous Theology from ULC Seminary; none of which make him more fun at parties.
About The Autumn War:
Nothing is as it seems. After the mysterious death of his family, retired operative Spetz has come looking for answers, using himself as bait. The shadowy Syndicate has made him a job offer that a deranged cadre of Nazi super-soldiers, the various global Mafias, and a ship full of eco-fanatics would all prefer he decline. By midday, the U.S. Government has declared him a terrorist, and an unseen adversary has offered more than a billion dollars to have him killed.In this covert global war, Spetz is forced to call in some favors from former associates: a rogue Artificial Intelligence, an ice-cold femme fatale, and a rescue team of former Soviet saboteurs. Among his enemies are Zeus, a genetically engineered soldier who styles himself a god; Mika French, the best assassin alive, and Hans Gutlicht, a mad scientist with a grudge…and the man who raised Spetz. From the icy waters of the Canadian North Atlantic to the burning sands of Las Vegas, Spetz must keep two steps ahead of everyone, outfoxing some of the most brilliant and dangerous operatives alive. To unravel the conspiracies behind the Autumn War, he does the one thing he’s always resisted: join ‘The Game.’ But can he win it in time to stop his faceless enemy? For Spetz, it’s gotten very personal. Game on.
Publisher Website: www.ragnarokpub.com
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