Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Big Bad Guns Make Big Bad Noise

My hero Boss MacTavin favors his Colt Python revolver, loaded with Teflon-coated bullets. It's a powerful gun and it looks so damned scary the sight alone stops a fair number of fights. But revolvers can't be silenced, at least not in the usual way. And this presents both me and Boss with creative challenges in working around the Colt's roars.



Attention to troublesome details like this is one of the signs of a pro. And inattention can result in loss of readers' trust. So I took care in SOUTHERN SCOTCH, the series debut, to provide Boss with an automatic backup gun which can, in fact, be silenced: the Beretta Minx.



Boss uses the silenced Minx twice in this book.  But for the final gunfight, he turns to the Colt Python--after staging a computerized blitz of fake calls to 911. Cops have scattered all over the city by the time he cuts loose with the Colt.

Now, THE ALCATRAZ CORRECTION isn't short on action, but it is short on gun play. Boss fires only once, at a speeding auto, from an apartment he's rented as Angus McPherson. Temptation whispered: Nobody will care if we simply move along. But once again I thought of trust--and took time to have the cops drop by. When they do, they find 'Angus'--without Boss's trademark patch--reeking of whiskey and ranting in an Edinburgh accent they can't understand. Boss is convincing enough that they leave without smelling any gun smoke. And I didn't lose the trust I'd gained with my intensive research on Alcatraz.

In the entry scheduled for Spring 2014, Boss will fire only once again. And this time I knew I needed to do something different. This one's set in Charlotte, NC. In one of the book's final scenes, Boss goes to a upscale neighborhood in the center of the city. The homes are small and close together. And I'd done enough research on Charlotte to know that the only homes with basements are located out in the 'burbs. Now, Boss has come by with reason to expect that he'll find a body, along with some trouble intended for him. And he really should have brought the Minx, since a shot here is bound to be heard. So I had to account for his taking the Colt--which I did--and come up with a way he could fire without having the cops there in minutes.

I found my answer in the bathroom, not far from the body--wrists slit--in the tub. But I only found it after Googling on the subject of silencing revolvers. I'll save what I found for the novel itself. What I'd like to share this morning is my intensified faith in trust earned through attention to details.

A parting example: when Brad Strickland read an early draft of SOUTHERN SCOTCH, the first thing he did was dig into my hero's change of name: from Pete McGregor to Boss MacTavin. I'd linked Boss to a wild Scottish brigand involved in a famous rebellion. Brad replied: Not possible because the name Boss did not come into circulation for some time to come. But--and this is why Brad Strickland rocks--I could have a little fun, while sticking to the facts, by giving the old brigand the nickname 'Bas Aithghear'. The phrase translates roughly to Sudden Death and Bas does look and sound enough like Boss to carry.

We may not always get it all completely right. But we can never stop showing we've tried to earn our readers' trust.






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