Movies are one of my big influences and two of them played a role in this first tale: Pulp Fiction and the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I wanted a piece that would quickly introduce our duo, their world, and their profession. Drop the reader right into the thick of things.
From Pulp Fiction I borrowed the idea of retrieving the mysterious briefcase belonging to an underworld figure and used that as the story's MacGuffin. From Raiders I used the trick of showing a story already in progress as a way of introducing the main character. In this case, we meet Kat already in the middle of trying to solve her dilemma rather than beginning at what would be the logical place to start--meeting with the Smith and picking up the suitcase.
Prior to posting Part One of "A Family Affair," I added a short prologue to do a bit of world-building, but eventually scrapped the idea. It would've diminished the immediacy of the story's opening.
So out it went.
If you're interested, you can read it here.
This story also sets up the world of Kat and Mouse. Near-future. Cyberpunk. Underworld figures. Folks running below society's radar. Additionally, I wanted to evoke elements of 30s pulp and 40s film noir. (I'll cover more about the world in a future post.)
Although the setting is semi-futuristic and built on the cyberpunk subgenre, I wanted to stay away from gobs of exposition. Refer to the tech. Comment on the tech. But don't read like a manual of the tech. I wanted the reader to more or less infer how the tech worked based on Kat's narration.
Much of the style edits I did in early draft were to keep the narration spare, very minimalistic, very lean prose. Enough to evoke the image but staying clear of too much flowery prose. I found reading screenplays helped in that regard. Also, reading Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels.
"A Family Affair" was originally published in a slight different version at Pulp and Dagger Webzine back in 2000. The version here I'd call the Definitive Version. I've gone back and fixed continuity errors so that it corresponds much more closely to the "series bible."
Pay attention to some of the characters in this one.
They'll be back.