So, the other night, after a difficult experience, after a big old cry on the side of the road (even the most upbeat gals sometimes get pulled down by their melancholy defeatist Ms Ego’s … the trick is to start the damn car and get back on the road), I found myself driving home in the rain and dark with a flat mobile battery, petrol light on and no idea where I was.
I ended up taking a long drive through Perth’s inner Northern Suburbs, which I have never really been through, not having done much in Perth until now but work and study for a career I didn’t love. I finally figured out I was in Leederville (still no petrol station in sight) so to distract from my panic that I would be stuck on the side of the road in my daughter’s 96 Barina, I started to notice the lovely facades of some of the lovely 1930’s buildings (among the not-so-lovely), all while listening to the lovelier Lana Del Rey sing about her honey liking the bad girls in “Video Games”.
It came to me in a flash, the struggle I have endured trying to find a voice for my story. Trying to find a muse for one of my main characters – the gorgeous but troubled prostitute who learns one dark secret too many. As Lana was singing, it all clicked. A writer friend suggested I check out the “Noir” style of writing after I read out some of my story in our little class, and explained that I was having trouble finding the “voice” for my tale. I really like Noir fiction, and I was pretty sure that is what I wanted to write – with a more modern twist. Herein lay the challenge – how to incorporate the Noir style with my fast paced thriller set in modern-day Western Australia and South East Asia. I have been struck down with inertia and unable to move my story forward for fear of not obeying the genre norms and hence creating something that will struggle to resonate with a publisher for fear of finding an audience. The other thing I am struggling with is how to write my characters in this style whilst still making them strong and memorable characters and not dishonouring my feminist heart. Can victims also be champions? Of course, whilst I have written this book totally for me, like most writers, I do (I really really do) want to score a publishing deal, as I think it is a tale others will want to read. Besides, It is not a thesis for my undergrad women’s studies unit – it is a work of fiction!!!!
One of the aspects of Noir fiction is that usually the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. Given that my protagonist is a detective with a bad girl side, I have been really scared that if I produce something that is as far from Noir as Tony Abbott is from Germaine Greer … Will I have to start all over again? This writing gig is hurting my brain.
But hey, aren’t rules meant to be broken, and besides my novel checks other Noir boxes… Other common characteristics of Noir include the self-destructive qualities of the protagonist – check. A typical protagonist of the Noir fiction is dealing with the legal, political or other system that is no less corrupt than the perpetrator by whom the protagonist is either victimised and/or has to victimise others on a daily basis, leading to a lose-lose situation – check.
Anyway, worrying about it now is not going to get the damn thing written … and I think I can make it work. I got home and checked out more of Lana’s work – her little gem of a video for “Ride”, and found my muse.
You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvb8wdBglpw …
Thanks Lana and Leederville …