Wednesday, July 4, 2012

One Picture, Three Visions—HALLINAN. LANE. MONAJEM.


Hooray! It's First Friday again, and three great authors have described, in 150 words or less, what they saw in this picture. Each one had an entirely different idea. This is how creativity works. Wonderful examples.

HALLINAN
For thirty years, Andres played his guitar in the corner of the little Barcelona bar as the clientele changed from working-class people to thugs and gangsters from the wharves, to slumming aristocrats, and finally to gay men and women. But Andres played on: seguedillas, flamenco, classical.  On the night Andres didn't show up for work, the bartender went to his one-room apartment and found it empty, except for his guitar.  No effects of any kind.  The bartender brought the guitar back and leaned it against Andres' chair.  In the 1990s the bar was closed and shuttered for the last time.  A year ago, the building was scheduled for demolition, and the workmen found a room rotten with damp, the walls cracked and peeling, everything shrouded in plaster dust.  But the guitar leaning against the chair in the back corner: it looked like someone had dusted it every night for years.
LANE
“Thank you . . . thank you.” He nodded to the enthusiastic crowd that overflowed the smoky basement club. Breathing in the sweet smell of weed, he flashed his best boyish grin at the table nearest the stage. Three sexy chicks, all giving him the eye.  He’d go home with at least one of them – shit, maybe all three.  If a good looking guitar player couldn’t get laid…
He shifted his butt on the stingy-seated folding chair and struck a tentative chord…
His wife’s voice shrilled down the stairs. “Damn it, Mort, can’t you shut the basement door?  You couldn’t play guitar fifty years ago; you can’t play it now, you old fool.”
         The door slammed; the nightclub disappeared. Alone in the dank, mildewed basement, Morton sighed and watched another leaf of paint peel loose and drift, like a discarded dream, to join the others littering the floor.
MONAJEM
Rafaela DaVinci bared her fangs. “You put my guitar in the dungeon?” 
“Strictly speaking, it’s a cellar,” I said mildly. Damp, with peeling paint and fractured linoleum, sure—but it was also the closest time portal. “I propped it against a chair.”
She snarled, all flying hair and furious eyes.  “That guitar cost ten thousand bucks!”
“So it’s the perfect bait,” I said. “Titus can smell an antique from eons away, and if he opens the portal to take it…”
“I can get back to the future.” Where she wouldn’t have to hide her fangs.  “Where I’ll have to buy back my own damned guitar!”
“That’s where my brilliance comes in,” I said. “I’ve rigged the pickup inside the guitar. Any noise in there and we’ll hear it. You’ll have ten seconds  to cross the portal, snatch the guitar—
The portal opened, squawking a warning through the pickup. Rafaela ran.

The Fear Artist - Amazon
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Timothy Hallinan
Timothy Hallinan is the Edgar-nominated author of the Poke Rafferty Bangkok thrillers, the Junior Bender Mysteries, and the 1990s cult-favorite PI novels featuring Simeon Grist.  His newest Poke Rafferty novel, THE FEAR ARTIST, received stars from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal.  Hallinan also edited SHAKEN, an ebook anthology of stories, with 100% of the proceeds going to Japan tsunami relief, will soon release an ebook called MAKING STORY: 21 WRITERS ON HOW THEY PLOT.
Hallinan wishes to acknowledge that the Barcelona bar was stolen, or rather inspired, by the bar in GITANA by Sam Reaves, masquerading as Dominic Martell. http://www.timothyhallinan.com/ His blog is in his website.

Under the Skin--Amazon
Vicki Lane
Vicki Lane is the author of the critically acclaimed Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries from Bantam Dell -- Signs in the Blood, Art's Blood, Old Wounds, Anthony- nominated In a Dark Season, and the recent Under the Skin, as well as The Day of Small Things, a standalone.  Vicki draws her inspiration from the past and present of rural North Carolina where she and her family have tended a mountainside farm since 1975. Learn more about Vicki and her books at http://vickilanemysteries.com/ .  There is also a daily blog with lots of pictures ... http://vickilanemysteries.blogspot.com/ . . .

Barbara Monajem
To Rescue or Ravish?--Amazon
When Arabella Wilbanks flees a forced betrothal, the last person she expects to find at the reins of her getaway hackney is Matthew Worcester. It’s been seven long years since they gave in to their mutual desire, but Matt still burns with regret for leaving her without a word. He should escort her to safety, but the chance to reclaim her proves impossible to resist...
   Barbara Monajem started writing at eight years old. She has wandered from children’s fantasy through mystery to paranormal and now historical romance. Today’s little effort is her first stab at science fiction.

Stop and say hi to these super authors. Tell us what you think or join in. We'd love to hear from you.

21 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

Such fun, Ellis. This is an interesting challenge. All three--well done and the perspectives varied--subgenres coming through in the last two pieces. Had I time, I would join in, but I have a deadline on a short I'm working to perfect. Bravo to all three writers for their fine pieces, which as I read them could be first paragraphs for novels. Got those hooks! Next time, perhaps.

Sandy Cody said...

I don't know what to say. They're all brilliant. Kudos to all three writers - and to you, Ellis, for coming up with such a great idea.

Vicki Lane said...

My goodness -- such fun to see our very different takes on the photo!

Earl Staggs said...

Excellent work, Tim, Barbara and Vicki. Ellis, I love this feature you're doing. It's fascinating to see how different writers interpret the same picture.

Barbara Monajem said...

Fascinating and fun. I loved doing this, Ellis, and then reading our very different takes on the photo. Thanks! :~))

Gloria Alden said...

All of them excellent and so different. Like E.B. wrote, I'd like to join in, but don't have the time right now to be as creative as the three of you. I did write down your names to check out your books.

Polly said...

Wonderful pieces, Tim, Vicki, and Barbara. This is one of the most original exercises I've seen, and the different takes are fascinating. Keep doing this, Ellis.

Theresa de Valence said...

I love this concept, Ellis, and the stories are wonderful. I'll be back every month!

Ellis Vidler said...

I'm doing this on the first FRIDAY of each month. Unfortunately, the holiday mixed me up, and I thought today was Friday. Still, it gives it another day to be up.

I enjoy finding the pictures and I have several "possibles" selected for future exercises. I love reading what everyone writes.

jenny milchman said...

I love this concept of yours, Ellis. And I love the pieces--the lost dusty dreams in the first two by Tim and Vicki, the wry edge in the last.

Georgia said...

This is the kind of exercise that influenced me to return to writing.A picture/post card in front of our group would generate lofty prose or poetry from the others. Mine always had a corpse. Lots of fun to focus on perspective.

Brian Miller said...

ha these are def fun....and a nice taste of each writers writing....glad vicki pointed me over...

Deanna said...

In my wildest dreams I would not have imagined such different takes on one picture. Enjoyed all three! Thanks for hosting and thanks to Vicki for inviting me.

Darla said...

Fab idea and I loved all three takes! I hopped over from Vicki's blog and will have to check in here regularly from now on. Thanks!

NCmountainwoman said...

The dreamer in me just loved Lane's account, especially poor Mort being brought back to reality by his wife's shrill voice.

I also loved Hallinan's take with the dust not settling on the guitar.

Interesting how all three writers have such different stories to tell and yet each one fits the photograph very well. I suppose that's what sets them apart from the rest of us.

Reader Wil said...

All three are good though different. It's difficult to choose. I read all Vicki's books and enjoyed reading them.Her account has a great deal of humour, while the Hallinan post creates a feeling of sadness and longing for the past, a tribute to, the probably diseased, owner of the guitar. All three are good!

Ellis Vidler said...

Each one evokes a different feeling. I love how each one saw something so different.
Barbara's made me wonder about the pickup and where the guitar was going next--who'd have gotten sci-fi and a time portal from that picture? Vicki's hooked me into the club scene and then I laughed. Tim's was sad, and I wonder who loved the guitar player that much. A great exercise!

Timothy Hallinan said...

This was just amazing fun, Ellis, and I thank you for letting me play along with the others.

I think a lot of credit goes to you for picking such an evocative image. Hard not to write a good story about something as full of suppressed emotion as this picture.

This would make a wonderful writing exercise, especially for those who feel that they're blocked. I set a timer to 30 minutes and finished it pretty much as the alarm went off. There wasn't TIME to get blocked. (Confession -- it was 100 words over and it took me longer to cut it than it did to write it.)

Writer Lady said...

I loved them all. I'll use them as an example on how to write a few meaningful words that tell a story.

Suz said...

Vicki pointed me here and I am glad she did. I enjoyed reading each take on the photo
flash fiction is always a treat
loved Hallinan's lingering haunting ending...
And Vicki's ..wow..took a turn I did not anticipate...loved it..she nailed his dream and nightmare...all in such a low wc

Ellis Vidler said...

Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting, and thank you, Tim, Vicki, and Barbara for joining in. I love all the different takes on the photo--different genres and entirely different ideas. They were great!

Ellis