“Write what you know!”
If you’re just starting out as a writer and ask for advice you will, without a doubt, hear this 10,000 times. It’s fair response as the easiest thing to draw upon for inspiration is life experience or personal expertise.
My series is about questionable characters doing shady shit under the umbrella of big city crime. I’ve been around plenty of shady people in my life. I may have even been described as one, depending on who you asked. But what did I know about the criminal underworld in the big, bright city? Just because you haven’t done something personally doesn’t necessarily mean you know nothing about it.
I drew on three main areas of inspiration for the Harbor Point Crime Series: Character, Location and my passion for crime films and books.
The influence of early film noir was covered in my last post but that’s where I leaned into the whole, “write what you know,” mantra. I spent enough time with detectives, bank robbers, crooked insurance salesman and gun molls that I was sure I could craft a modern day crime world based on all those hours spent in the theatre and in front of the television.
Character was just as easy. I knew I wanted him to be a boxer, either active or retired. Why? I’m from a boxing family. My grandfather was a professional fighter in the 1940’s. He climbed through the ropes as a pro 59 times, fighting at Madison Sqaure Garden more than ten and even fought at Ebbets Field in 1946.
I consumed so much of the sweet science growing up that even today I would call boxing my favorite sport. There is something poetic in the dance that two fighters, alone in the ring, craft while trying to kill each other. My younger brother would go on to compete in the Golden Gloves tournament. It was an easy call to make Ellis Boone good with his hands.
Finally, location. I spent enough time in Atlantic City playing in weekend poker tournaments to get a feel for the place. I wasn’t a very good player but that’s not really important except when it concerned my bank account. Smoke filled casinos, prostitutes, degenerate gamblers and neighborhoods off the boardwalk that you wouldn’t want to find yourself in when the sun dipped below the horizon. It was all there.
If ever there was a city to inspire what Harbor Point could be, it was Atlantic City.
Have I ever worked for the Ukrainian mob? Pulled a job with a woman I knew was bad for me? Had a run-in with a badass gang leader? No, but pulling in all those things that have swirled around the orbit of my life helped craft those situations. I feel like I know my world pretty well.
And if you ever find yourself alone, far from the bright lights of the Harbor Point boardwalk. Be careful. The streets are rough after dark.