Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chit chat

Not too long ago, I promised to post some bits from my first manuscript, Black Helicopters. I thought the following passage could give you a good taste of it:
“Hello? Is this the Bill McCracken residence?” Mark asked.
“Yes, who is this,” the person asked.
“My name is Mark Wood and I work for the Spotlight,” Mark said. “I’m calling about a report on the radio station about a big sinkhole out your way.”
“Oh, that was my son’s place. I’m Bill Senior, Mr. Wood,” he said. “Yeah, he’s jist across the road out here. I’ll tell ya, it was the damndist thing I ever seen. I was over there getting’ his copy of the Spotlight — ya know, I’m retired and I cain’t afford that $40 y’all want every year fer the paper — and we were jist out there talking ‘bout his family bein’ gone down in Florida an’ ya know how bad the corn was this year? Well, it was bad and we was jist talkin’ how everybody out here to Monrovia and Hall is doin’…
Mark was in Hell. “Why can’t this old man tell me what I want to know?” he thought to himself.
The senior McCracken just kept going. “…then all the sudden, the ground starts shakin’. Well, I don’t know where yer from, Mr. Wood, but the ground don’t shake ‘round here. I’m 75 and I kin remember maybe one little-bitty earthquake in my whole life. Now, if this was California, well then I could see it, but not ‘round here.
“Anyway, about an acre or so out in the field, we see dirt moundin’ up, almost like it’s gittin’ pushed up from below. Like a coupla dang fools, we got runnin’ out there. I tell ya, the cows were fussin’, them damn dogs was barkin’ like the Devil hisself was gonna pop out. We git up to it and Billy tells me to stay back. Well, I’ll tell ya somethin’: that was my grandpa’s land and my daddy’s land and mine fer years and my son ain’t about to tell me where I kin go. I go on up anyway and I’ll be goddamned if there wasn’t this bigass hole with somethin’ stickin’ up in the bottom…”
The above was inspired by more phone interviews on behalf of small town newspaper readers than I could possibly recount. Small town journalism is actually very rewarding, as I am now recalling after a few weeks in the new job. The feedback is quicker and more immediate; you're able to do a more complete job of covering the news because there isn't as much of it and you deal with a smaller area. The only real downside is smaller staffs mean less quality control. I do all of the proofing and copy editing and, believe it or not, I do miss things.

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