Thursday, August 20, 2020

Julie Frost on The Genesis of “Brave Day Sunk in Hideous Night” for Supernatural Streets

Another guest post on Supernatural Streets. This time, from Julie Frost 

The Genesis of “Brave Day Sunk in Hideous Night”

Julie Frost 

The origin of the whole “Pack Dynamics” universe is a bit weird and a lot convoluted.

When the first “Iron Man” movie came out, I got a little obsessed. Scratch that. Wholly obsessed. Tony was so messed up, and Pepper so long-suffering, that they were just... irresistible. Yeah, I shipped that, and shipped it hard. So I sat down and bashed out a novelette starring two characters that totally were not them in any way, shape, manner, or form. Ha. It was the first story I’d ever written without any speculative elements whatsoever. It was basically a romance (I don’t write romance, by the way) with a lot of torture, as Not-Tony and Not-Pepper get in a plane crash in Bosnia and are captured by terrorists. I loved it to itty-bitty pieces.

And it was completely unsalable. Short romance was not a Thing in 2007.

I lamented to my Writing Buddy about how I needed to add a spec element so I could actually make some beer money with the thing. He mused for a minute and said, “Make her a werewolf. She’s hiding her condition from him. Wackiness, as we say, ensues.”

So I did. The length doubled. I never did place it (werewolf romance novellas are a hard sell, who knew?), but I eventually self-pubbed it because I could and because by then I had a novel series to hang it on. One publisher rejected it but said that it was the best title they’d seen all year. I’m rather fond of “Piles of Cash and Killer Benefits” myself. I am pretty sure my Writing Buddy came up with that too.

A year later, give or take, the Iron Man Train was still chugging merrily along, and I was basically devouring every movie Robert Downey, Jr., has ever been in. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” crossed my radar, and I thought it was the best movie I’ve ever seen that only twelve people have even heard of, let alone watched. And I got to thinking, double the Downey, double the fun, what if I mash KKBB and Iron Man together, Tony hires Harry and Perry to look into some industrial espionage for him, whee.

My issue with that was that I didn’t want to write fanfiction anymore. But I was three thousand words into it, madly scribbling when I got a spare minute at Denvention 3 (the 2008 Denver WorldCon), and also lamenting to high Heaven and anyone who would listen about ARGH FANFIC MAKE IT STOP BUT ALSO I LOVE THIS.

A kind soul tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t you have a universe you can drop characters like this into?”

I blinked. Why, yes. Yes, I did.

Long story short, “Pack Dynamics” turned into a prequel of “Piles of Cash,” and I sold it seven years later to WordFire Press.

Ben is nothing like Harry. Harry is a clueless, incompetent doofus. We love him because he’s got a good heart and he tries hard. While Ben is Damaged with a capital D, he is actually skilled at his job. I imported Harry’s White Knight Syndrome, and--like Harry--he gets kidnapped and beaten up a lot, but that’s where the resemblance ends. We love him (hopefully) because he fights for the things he believes in, doesn’t see himself as a victim, and is almost painfully self-aware.

Now, I’m a short story writer at heart. Novels are hard. In the six years between the time I wrote “Pack Dynamics” and its sale, I managed to scribble several short stories and novelettes set in the universe, including this one. Ben is a favorite creation of mine, and I love tossing him face-first into a situation and seeing how he’ll react to it.

When I sat down and started outlining projects for a short-story NaNo endeavor in 2013, I knew I had to write a Ben story. So I started poking through private eye websites to see what sort of job I could hang some fiction on, and decided to combine a repo with a skip trace. But a normal repo would be boring, so I decided to mix it up a little and have my brand of fun with it while also traumatizing Ben. Again.

It’s what I do. 

Buy Supernatural Streets here

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