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CRC Scripted Interview with C.S. DeWildt On His Crime Fiction Novella SUBURBAN DICK
Shotgun Honey (https://www.shotgun
honey.com) published CS DeWildt’s crime fiction novella SUBURBAN DICK on May 1, 2018, with cover design by Bad Fido.
DeWildt has published four other fiction novels: Love You to A Pulp by All Due Respect; Kill Em With Kindness, All Due Respect; Dead Animals, All Martian Lit; and Candy and Cigarettes, Vagabondage Press.
SYNOPSIS of SUBURBAN DICK: Private Detective Gus Harris isn’t paid to be nice. Problem is he isn’t paid for much of anything these days. Recently divorced, all Gus wants is a little business to keep his one-man operation afloat and a chance to be a part of his kids’ lives. So when a pair of distraught parents come calling for help locating their missing son, it appears Gus’s luck may be changing. As Gus investigates the boy’s disappearance, he discovers something rotten with the Horton High school wrestling team. Gus soon realizes the missing boy may not be missing at all, but rather part of an elaborate embezzlement scheme that serves to keep the team at peak performance and the college scholarships rolling in. Gus is certain that popular high school wrestling coach Geoff Hanson knows more than he’s willing to admit, but has no idea just how far the man is willing to go to keep his secrets from coming to light. Soon, the lines between Gus’s work and home life are blurred as he finds himself not only trying to crack the case, but also protecting the people most dear to him from Hanson’s vengeful wrath.
Below is a scripted interview conducted between the CRC Blog and C.S. DeWildt from August 21, 2018 to September 6, 2018.
Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing SUBURBAN DICK from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final book form? Sure! First, thanks for having me by, again. I had the initial idea in 2014 (Left: Copyright permission granted by C.S. DeWildt for this CRC Blog Post Only) I believe, just a story about a guy trying to solve a case while doing the whole “divorced dad” thing. I love PI stories but I wanted to try something that would make mine a little different which is why I chose the suburbs and a more family oriented B story. I guess I wanted to subvert the genre by being a little less subversive. Does that even make sense?
“Hey,” Gus said. The kid turned. “Tell your mom I’ll be by around six. And do the dishes for her. You owe me.” The kid nodded, gave Gus that snaggle-toothed smile that was surely going to call for braces. Jesus Christ, how much was that going to set him back?
“See you later, Dad,” the kid said as he ran to the door.
Gus watched his boy go and glanced at the photos on the visor again. He hated the fact that he saw the photos of his kids more often than the kid themselves. But more than that, he hated himself.
SD is a pretty straight forward story, took me a year to get it in good enough shape to submit it anywhere. It was rejected by agents and publishers alike for about another two years. Eventually I followed up with Down and Out Books who didn’t accept it outright but passed it on to one of their new imprints, Shotgun Honey Books. Ron (Left)(http://www.ronearl
phillips.com/) over there liked it and we made the plan to put it out in 2018, which is exactly what happened.
What environment (s) did you write SUBURBAN DICK and can you describe in great detail? It’s not that exciting but I’ll try. The bulk of it was written in my office, which is just a den that the entire family shares, so it’s loaded up with toys and school junk, books, art supplies, workout gear and of course our dog. It does have a great window for letting in a little natural light though.
Did you have a writing routine hours in which you would write SUBURBAN DICK? Mornings are always best for me. I have young kids, who were even younger when I was writing the book, so I tried to get up early while everyone else was still asleep. It’s always been my routine because I’m an early riser, but this was the first book where I felt it was NECESSARY to take advantage of that time. By six a.m. I had kids climbing all over me asking for some breakfast. (Left: DeWildt and his two boys. Copyright permission granted by C.S. DeWildt for this CRC Blog Post Only)
How long did it take to completely write SUBURBAN DICK?
What made you give that title? The book was originally called “Chicken Wing” (a reference a motif throughout) but the publisher thought it was a little too vague and suggested “Suburban Detective.” I shot back with Suburban Dick, which worked since not only is dick short for detective, but Gus Harris enjoys needling people, he’s a bit of a dick himself.
Gus sat behind his desk, and Mrs. Hughes began to cry again. The man stroked her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her to calm her. He tried to pull her to him but she resisted.
“Stop it Gene!” she said to her husband. The man’s hand jerked away from his wife.
“Grace, please,” he said.
“Don’t!” she said. “Our son is missing!” She broke down again hard, as if saying the words made it real all over. Gus slid a box of tissue toward her and looked to Gene for the rest of the pitch.
“You probably heard about it. The wrestler from Horton High that died a few months back? He and Albie, our boy, were friends.”
Of course Gus had heard. It had been all over the news, Drew David, high school wrestler jumped off a footbridge seventy feet above the rocky creek bed that ran through Horton Nature Preserve. The story had made the national cycle for a couple weeks, leading to a series of “special investigations” on teenage suicide across the web. The event also stood out because Gus’s home, or the home that now housed his wife Lucy and their kids, was in Horton. His daughter was a senior at Horton high this year and he and his wife, ex-wife, were alums of the small-town school themselves. Given all of that, it was a story that was hard to miss. The lesser-reported part of the story was that another wrestler, all-state champion Albert “Albie” Hughes couldn’t be found and was wanted for questioning.
Can you explain the chicken on the cover? Again, the image goes back to the original title and the “chicken wing” motif that runs through the piece. And they’re delicious.
Which excerpt was the most compelling for you to write? Why? And may I include it in this piece? I really loved the scenes where Gus talks/fights with his family. Solving the case was fun, but I really liked writing the family stuff, particularly the Gus and Jessie scenes. On one hand she’s your typical surly teen, but she also has a reason to be. Gus needed her forgiveness, but it wasn’t going to come easy. All of the family scenes were a lot of fun to write. Include anything you want! (Right: C.S. DeWildt. Copyright permission granted by C.S. DeWildt for this CRC Blog Post Only)
Gus took a long swallow from the bottle and looked around the bright, empty kitchen. The sink was empty of dishes. Ernie was a good kid. The boy’s “A” graded school assignments hung on the refrigerator. Jessie was represented too, with a discipline slip to be signed next to a playbill for the Horton High School play, her name under the title, “Frankenstein goes to Hollywood,” a modern, musical retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Jessie’s first starring role after a year in the chorus and two more as an understudy. She’d been thrilled when she got the role in time to include the information on her college applications. Gus made a mental note, the performance a little over a week away. He turned his attention to the discipline slip. He read from the stock form and found, among the many listed potential crimes that weren’t checked off, Jessie was found guilty of “insubordination” with the swipe of a red pen. She was also cited for “inappropriate language”.
Gus took another swig of beer and caught Jessie out of the corner of his eye. She was standing in the doorway looking at him, mouth set into the scowl he’d known since she turned thirteen.
“What?” she said, annoyed.
I felt the book was realistic crime fiction but the very ending seemed like horror – fantasy horror. Do you agree? Absolutely! Another motif that developed in the process of writing this book was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I like an ending that surprises people and yes, this one kind of switches genres at the end. I wouldn’t say fantasy exactly; I tried to present a realistic, albeit worst case scenario regarding “the creature.”
. . . Gus hoped on the stage as the thing snatched Jessie.
Were there any portions that were deleted out of the final version and can you share them with us? I wish I could say yes to make this answer more interesting, but no. Everything made the final cut for the most part. It’s a pretty lean book.
If this were a movie which actors and actresses would play the characters?
Gus – McCauly Culkin
Lucy – Charlize Theron
Jessie – Sophia Hublitz from Ozark
Ernie – My eldest child
Henson – Danny Bonaduce
Anything you would like to add?
Not really. Just thank you again for having me! And anyone reading, please check out Suburban Dick and my new blog site https://uglydad.com