23 September 2014

Book Launch Guest Post ~ WAYZATA by Ted Korsmo

A detective. A millionaire. A millionaire's wife. A mistress. Hijinks and tragedy ensue. Set in the late 1930s in Wayzata -- a rural, resort suburb of Minneapolis -- Detective Carroll LaRue has quit his badge, pulled up stakes and put a haunted past in Hollywood behind him. He has exchanged hilltops and orange groves for a hardscrabble, hand-to-mouth existence in the blue-gray Midwest working as a PI. And when he’s hired to track a duplicitous femme fatale and makes the mistake of falling in love with her, his fate is sealed.

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

To start, thanks to Tony Riches for allowing me the opportunity to contribute with a guest post on his site. Somehow my being an American did not dissuade him from inviting my participation, which shows real poise on his part. I am honored honoured to have curried his favor favour and be asked to send these words across the pond.

And so…

Write what you know,” said Twain, allegedly. “Good artists copy. Great artists steal,” said Picasso, purportedly.

Okay, so, what do I know? I know what I enjoy. We all know best those subjects in which we have an interest, and I found out early in life that the roman noir literary subgenre had an especial interest to me. The triumvirate of James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, and, most importantly, Raymond Chandler, and the effect their oeuvres have had upon me and millions of other readers cannot be overstated. Without them, not only would we be missing so many terrific novels, but films – without them, we may never have heard of Humphrey Bogart; we might know Fred McMurray only as the father who knew best; Robert Altman wouldn’t have been able to make a complete hash of “The Long Goodbye”; and every second movie made by the Coen brothers would have been created in a vacuum, or not exist at all.

And neither would Wayzata. For my first novel I have taken that which I have known and loved and crushed it into what is effectively a pastiche of those great authors’ styles: hard-boiled characters, purple prose, and paragraphs peppered with pithy similes whenever possible. I am stealing from the best, yes, but am hopeful that maybe a little bit of me got in there, too.

Wayzata started as a screenplay. It just seemed like it would be easier that way. Screenwriting is about structure and economy. Say a lot with a little. A screenplay is not meant to read from left-to-right, but from top to bottom. There should be a lot of white on the page. If it takes longer than a couple of hours to read through a script, something is wrong. Once you get the hang of it, it soon becomes clear as dammit that screenwriting is not really about writing at all – it’s about formatting – and can’t be a truly creative endeavor because of all the rules imposed upon it by its few readers.

A professor of creative writing at university said: “Y’know how you morons sell a screenplay? Write a book.”

Now, nobody can tell anybody anything, and the probability of the positive reception of an idea is halved when your audience is under thirty years of age, and decreases by a factor of ten with an audience under the age of twenty. At eighteen, I was destined for greatness, certain of my genius, and convinced my script would sell right out of the gate. Somebody would see my truth, and want to commit it to celluloid.

It never happened; it didn’t sell. At least, not yet. But it fortunately took only eighteen more years before I finally listened to the wisdom of that professor: with the blueprint of the story already in hand as a screenplay, I started to write Wayzata as a novel. And it has been a joy to discover that people are finding my book, and enjoying it. I am hopeful that you, too, Gentle Reader, might find it and enjoy it as well. And that you give it to that Hollywood producer you know.

Ted Korsmo
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About the Author

Ted Korsmo was born in Alexandria, Virginia, but that is neither here nor there; his parents whisked him away from that place so he could spend his formative years in the arctic climes of Fargo, North Dakota (yes, that Fargo), and later Minneapolis, Minnesota. After high school, what can only be defined as kismet brought him acceptance into the NYU film program, a decision which calls that institution’s status as an elite mainstay of cinematic erudition into question. Upon graduating Korsmo moved to Los Angeles, leaving behind a woman who loved him and his favorite city for better weather and a grasping, superficial existence. Korsmo has since eked out a living (if you can call it such), as a film and television editor. He writes and records music under the apt moniker “The Ted Korsmo Experiment” and is currently working on his fifth album and a collection of short stories and a novella. He generates this wealth of creative material not because he finds it easy or even particularly rewarding, but rather because he is woefully under-employed and needs to find unique ways to kill the days.

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