Thursday, June 7, 2012

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Louis Corsair (author of Absolution)

I’m very happy to be here as Bob’s guest! What I wanted to talk about is a subject that becomes all too visible within the first few sentences of my novel, Absolution: The language. Because the protagonist, Raymond Adams, lived in the 1940s he speaks a certain way. Some of you will be reminded of those black and white film delights from the Studio Era of Hollywood, with their sharp dialogue that sometimes sounds funny now--like the way the word “baby” is used in Double Indemnity. One of my test readers pictured Humphrey Bogart whenever Adams said anything.

If you look at newsreels from those days you’ll note that not everyone spoke like the star of a noir film. For stylistic reasons I exaggerated a few components of my character’s speech. So you have an assortment of nouns that not everyone in the 1940s used, like “dame,” which refers to a woman. The intent of this is to bring the character closer to the hardboiled background he comes from. Also, it is thematically relevant.

One of my novel’s themes is that everything in this era is pretending to be something it is not--synthetic fruit flavors, I can’t believe it’s not butter, meat flavoring, serial killers, etc. Since Adams is in this era during the events in the novel, he too is pretending to be something he is not. I won’t give away what that is here.

Altering the language for stylistic reasons is not an uncommon practice. Look at any novel by Mark Twain and you’ll see the narrator’s voice is as much a part of the landscape as are the characters. The technique is meant to give the reader a taste of a place they cannot visit, like England or the American South.

The key is not to overdo it.

This is horribly vague. What I meant is that when using a special dialect to bring to life a character’s speech and internal monologue, it would be problematic to do it in a way that confuses the reader. I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking it too: How can you possibly know what is going to confuse every reader on the planet? You can’t. I sure can’t.

Let me try again. There is no simple rule of thumb--no catchy phrase--or shortcut that will help the writer determine how much is too much. And if you hear someone tell you that there is one, you should run. It is a lie. Writer-instinct has to guide you while you write. The only way to develop this instinct is to read other works of fiction, better if they are similar to your novel or short story. There are other things that help too. That’s why test readers come in handy, but they are limited--there is no clear representation for an entire nation of readers.

My approach was to flower the First Person narration with tidbits that are recognizable as 1940s speech. He’ll call someone a sap or threaten to let his friend squirt led pills on you (shoot you with his gun) or dismiss you by calling you “kid.” I was also careful not to include modern speech.

Nothing kills a period piece like reading a character use a modern expression like, get a life or talk to the hand. Since Detective Adams is a walking period piece, it would have been awkward for him to say something like “I got this” or “shit happens.”

This is an enormous effort. It makes sense for me to have made some mistakes along the way. You’ll forgive those, I’m sure. The intent was to execute what I described above.

You’ll forgive me, right?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Louis Corsair is an eight year veteran of the United States Army. Currently, he lives in Los Angeles, CA and attends Long Beach State University. He also works at the Peninsula Center Library in Palos Verdes, where books have become his family. To him, writing is more than a hobby or a passion; it is the only way to exist—at times life itself.

The idea for Absolution came to him after watching news of a murdered Adult film actor in Hollywood.



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ABOUT THE BOOK:
Absolution by Louis Corsair:

In 1947, a gangster murders private investigator Raymond Adams. In 2011, he's brought back to life for 24 hours to solve the supernatural murder of a Hollywood Adult film star.

When the son of a Pit Lord is murdered in Hollywood, the celestial beings in charge of the Four Realms ask Raymond Adams to figure who did it and find the victim's missing soul. Without memories of his life, he accepts the case to gain eternal peace. But the job is daunting:

24 hours to nab a killer...
24 hours to find a missing soul...
24 hours to unravel the victim's exotic private life...
24 hours to stop a plot to send the universe into chaos...

With only the help of a possessed cop and a medium, Adams must trek through a Hollywood underground filled with pornography, prostitutes, the homeless, and sadists, along with supernatural monsters. But can he solve the case when his own haunting memories keep surfacing, telling him exactly what kind of man he was in life?

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TOUR AND GIVEAWAY:
Be sure to stop back later this morning when I post my review of Absolution. In the meantime, don't forget to check out the details of where Louis will be next . . . and be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a paperback of Absolution, a keychain, a bookmark, a magnet, a hat, a magnifying glass, and a pair of shades.


Oh, and don't forget - Absolution is only $0.99/£0.77 for as long as the tour lasts, so get your copy today!

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Louis. Adds more meaning to the old phrase, "Watch your language," than a parent or teacher ever intended.

    And I wholeheartedly subscribe to author instinct--perhaps more than anything else.

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  2. You're right, Tom, instinct is all we really have. Thanks again Bob for hosting me!

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