Friday, June 7, 2019
#47 Inside the Emotion of Fiction's "The Graceland Conspiracy" by Philip Shirley
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****Philip Shirley’s The Graceland Conspiracy is the #47 in a never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt. All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece.
Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? The Graceland Conspiracy is a novel. The working title came surprisingly with ease and no others were ever considered. That is NOT usual, but in this case the title was inserted as a working title but stuck.
Fiction genre? Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc. And how many pages long? The novel is in the suspense/thriller category. 300 pages.
Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no. If yes, what publisher and what publication date? April 1, 2019, from Mindbridge Press. https://www.mindbridgepress.com/
What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? Like many writers, I have folders of book ideas that may sit around for many years before they surface again to be completed. Some folders have outlines; some are just a paragraph or two of an idea. The initial story idea was written way back in 2003 and 9500 words were written as an outline. The manuscript was then put away for years. I wrote and published three other books before going back to this one ten years later after publishing The White Lie in 2014. Most of TGC was completed in 2015-16 and then polished again in 2017 when the fourth or fifth edit was completed. Mindbridge accepted the book for publication in early 2018.
Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. And can you please include a photo? The writing was completed at three locations. My home on the Barnett Reservoir near Madison, Mississippi, is always primary as I have a writing studio/library there. I also spend a lot of summer time on Dauphin Island, Alabama, and have a writing studio there. Some of the book was also written at a cabin in Paint Rock Valley area of the Cumberland Mountains in North Alabama when I need to be totally away from the Internet and even out of cell phone coverage.
What is the summary of this specific fiction work? The Graceland Conspiracy delivers a coming-of-age story wrapped in a crime thriller. A rebellious young man becomes caught in a 1990s conspiracy in which the government will stop at nothing to prevent the release of sensitive information about a 1970s crime that could still bring down many powerful government figures and rewrite American pop-culture history. (Right: Philip Shirley holding the jacket cover of The Graceland Conspiracy, standing next to Elvis)
Matt Boykin had left Birmingham as a young college student and had gained seven years of street savvy working blue collar jobs on the West Coast and Texas. Then one night, a stranger in a suit helps Matt out of a tight spot in a Texas bar fight and whisks Matt away. The stranger hands Matt a card and tells him to call home. Matt’s father is in a coma and near death. Estranged all those years from family and friends, Matt arrives home a different person. His father dies soon after Matt’s return but not before whispering clues for Matt to locate evidence that will later reveal the truth behind the death of an American music icon. When Matt comes home from the store and discovers his mother’s staged suicide, he suspects both deaths were hits.
Matt soon locates the items his father hid for him, and the facts are revealed layer by layer. As a child, Matt thought his father was a low-level clerk in the National Security Enforcement Organization, but that story had been a cover. As Matt draws closer to the truth, an old school friend helping Matt is murdered, and Matt barely escapes. When government agents close to the case die, Matt is blamed for their deaths.
With nowhere else to turn, Matt pairs up with former high school girlfriend Kristine who soon discovers her reunion with Matt has irrevocably altered her life. Using his street savvy, Matt drags Kristine first to Mexico, then to Belgium and Germany, and finally to Venice where the couple is tracked down. They escape death when a powerful new ally takes them into deep cover. Not realizing an enemy is among them, the couple struggles to regain control of their lives by exposing the truth about what really happened to America’s most beloved entertainer.
Please include the excerpt and include page numbers as reference. The excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer. From chapter 19, pages 143-144: Just after noon we pulled in front of, you guessed it, a pool hall. On the eastern edge of San Antonio. Although it had only been a few short weeks since I’d left, it seemed a lifetime ago.
The front windows were painted green, like old-time pool halls that were still scattered around here and there when I was growing up in the eighties. In the center of the window was a faded painting of a large yellow-striped nine-ball above the name, City Limits Pool Room. We parked in front.
If you’ve never spent time in pool halls it’s hard to understand them. They are a subculture all to themselves. Titles and jobs and backgrounds don’t count for much. Your word counts. Your game counts. Your cash counts. Blue jeans and blue silk ties both can fit, if Joey or Stick or whoever runs the show in that hall gives their nod. Pool halls are the golf courses of the underground economy. You need someone to collect a bet, somebody knows somebody who knows somebody who does that. If you need a clean pistol without a history, somebody knows somebody. If you need to disappear, the door to the other side goes through a pool hall somewhere.
I told her, “This place has been here for forty years.”
“If it goes another forty, that will be too soon for me to like being here,” Kristine said.
“If you know someone here, you can get connected for anything that’s for sale and the government doesn’t get a cut.”
“And you ‘know someone’ here I guess. Figures.”
I didn’t bite. It was a tough time and she was still mad and scared and frustrated. I got it. I held my tongue.
“This guy can get you an ID without us having to deal directly with the woman who makes them,” I said. “We need to talk to my friend. I don’t know anywhere else to go.”
“How do you know it’s a woman?” she asked, as she stopped just inside the door to let her eyes adjust to the dim interior.
I didn’t answer and looked down.
She nodded, and I saw the corners of her mouth were pointing down. “Obviously, you’ve done this before.”
I knew there was no good answer, so again I didn’t reply.
Why is this excerpt so emotional for you?And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? The emotions from this scene derive from the obvious tension between Matt and his former girlfriend Kristine. She is learning a side of Matt that she knew nothing about, and she does not like seeing this side of his life. She has been thrust into a situation not of her making. To find the emotional tension I wanted in this scene, I had to go back to my personal relationships and learn from those where a girlfriend and I were forced together to deal with something but we didn’t want to be there in that situation.
Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. This particular section did not have many edits, though the book had literally thousands and went through at least five complete edits (two copy edits and three or more proofing and line edits).
. a novel. Mindbridge Press (Florence, Alabama: 2014)
with David Magee, foreword by Ken Griffey Jr., Triumph Books, a Random House imprint, (Chicago: 2009)
short story collection, Jefferson Press (Lookout Mountain: 2008)
Philip Shirley has published six books, including two novels and a collection of short fiction that was a finalist for the Jefferson Prize. He grew up in Alabama, including living for six years in Monroeville, officially designated as the Literary Capital of Alabama. He presently splits time between Dauphin Island, Alabama, and The Town of Lost Rabbit in Mississippi. He has received awards for fiction, poetry, speech writing and feature writing. He is executive chairman of Godwin, an ad agency. (Right: March of 2019)
INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links
001 11 15 2018 Nathaniel Kaine’s
John Hunter – The Veteran
002 11 18 2018 Ed Protzzel’s
The Antiquities Dealer
003 11 23 2018 Janice Seagraves’s
Science Fiction Romance
004 11 29 2018 Christian Fennell’s
Literary Fiction Novel
The Fiddler in the Night
005 12 02 2018 Jessica Mathews’s
Adult Paranormal Romance
006 12 04 2018 Robin Jansen’s
Literary Fiction Novel
Ruby the Indomitable
007 12 12 2018 Adair Valerez’s
Literary Fiction Novel
008 12 17 218 Kit Frazier’s
009 12 21 2019 Robert Craven’s
The Road of a Thousand Tigers
010 01 13 2019 Kristine Goodfellow’s
Contemporary Romantic Fiction
The Other Twin
011 01 17 2019 Nancy J Cohen’s
Trimmed To Death
012 01 20 2019 Charles Salzberg’s
Second Story Man
013 01 23 2019 Alexis Fancher’s
His Full Attention
014 01 27 2019 Brian L Tucker’s
POKEWEED: AN ILLUSTRATED NOVELLA
015 01 31 2019 Robin Tidwell’s
016 02 07 2019 J.D. Trafford’s
Little Boy Lost
017 02 08 2019 Paula Shene’s
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My Quest Begins
018 02 13 2019 Talia Carner’s
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019 02 15 2019 Rick Robinson’s
020 02 21 2019 LaVerne Thompson’s
The Soul Collectors
021 02 27 2019 Marlon L Fick’s
The Nowhere Man
022 03 02 2019 Carol Johnson’s
Silk And Ashes
023 03 06 2019 Samuel Snoek-Brown’s
Short Story Collection
There Is No Other Way to Worship Them
024 03 08 2019 Marlin Barton’s
Short Story Collection
025 03 18 2019 Laura Hunter’s
026 03 21 2019 Maggie Rivers’s
027 03 25 2019 Faith Gibson’s
028 03 27 2019 Valerie Nieman’s
To The Bones
029 04 04 2019 Betty Bolte’s
Veiled Visions of Love
030 04 05 2019 Marianne Maili’s
Lucy, go see
031 04 10 2019 Gregory Erich Phillips’s
032 04 15 2019 Jason Ament’s
033 04 24 2019 Stephen P. Keirnan’s
The Baker’s Secret
034 05 01 2019 George Kramer’s
Arcadis: Prophecy Book
035 05 05 2019 Erika Sams’s
Rose of Dance
036 05 07 2019 Mark Wisniewski’s
Watch Me Go
037 05 08 2019 Marci Baun’s
The Whispering House
038 05 10 2019 Suzanne M. Wolfe’s
Murder By Any Name
039 05 12 2019 Edward DeVito’s
The Woodstock Paradox
040 05 14 2019 Gytha Lodge’s
She Lies In Wait
041 05 16 2019 Kari Bovee’s
Peccadillo At The Palace: An Annie Oakley Mystery
042 05 20 2019 Annie Seaton’s
Time Travel Romance
043 05 22 2019 Paula Rose Michelson’s
Inspirational Christian Romance
Rosa & Miguel – Love’s Legacy: Prequel to The Naomi
044 05 24 2019 Gracie C McKeever’s
On The Edge
045 06 03 2019 Micheal Maxwell’s
The Soul of Cole
046 06 04 2019 Jeanne Mackin’s
The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and
047 06 07 2019 Philip Shirley’s
The Graceland Conspiracy