Writing Pixie Noir

Pixie Noir
Pulp-inspired cover art.

I started out to write a little story to make my partner laugh. I didn’t start out to write something special, or anything other than fun, but I wound up with a novel, and then realized it’s a series, and… Pixie Noir started out of having a direction, and then it just grew.

We’d been having one of our rambling conversations about books, authors we like, and guilty pleasure reads. He admitted to a fondness for Mickey Spillane, but not the Hammer books. I don’t remember what sparked the desire to make him laugh, but I emailed him what would become the first scenes of Pixie Noir one day. He liked it so much I kept expanding it, and sending him snippets as I wrote. He’d give me suggestions (and earned the sobriquet Evil Muse during the six months I was writing this book) and help me with things like male-to-male dialogue. Turns out guys don’t talk to one another like girls think they do. Which makes sense, but… well, I’m a girl.

I write most of my stories because I have to write. Like an itch, they get in my head and nag me until I let them out on paper. Pixie Noir had this loud, brash, sardonic character who kept talking to me. I didn’t plan the story out much, I’m a pantser. I certainly did not plan out my characters, they were in my head as clearly as real people. I read an article the other day about how to develop a character and had to stop and go ‘huh’ as I have never had to do that. I do know that there are things I could not ask or force Lom to do – back down from a fight, open up even to Bella – because they are not in his nature. And Bella, who very practically decides that if she is no longer safe on Earth, why not take a job with the most dangerous man Underhill, if that’s what she wants?

I did set out to write romance into Pixie Noir, but I didn’t want to make it “a romance,” nor did I want them hopping into bed casually. It’s not that I can’t write sex, it’s that these two people, however fictional, had their own agendas and feelings, and I the author had to respect that. About the only things I could dictate were weaponry, like the multiple grenade launcher for Bella’s confrontation with Ogres, and her reaction was something like “ooh! Give me that.”

Much of the bit and pieces fell into place while I was talking with my Evil Muse, like the joke about in case of stairs, use fire. Some of it came out of deliberate research, as my marinating my brain in noir fiction, reading Spillane, L’Amour’s detective tales, and even Ian Fleming. When I needed just the right weapon for a short pixie and slender woman to use on Ogres when they couldn’t use much magic, I went to the Monster Hunter International group and asked the gun geeks, who had more fun than I could have imagined with that scenario! I’m grateful to Everitt Mickey for his technical assistance in the best way to use a logging truck to go bowling for Ogres.

Writing is not a solo concern. Everything I have ever read goes into the meatgrinder of my brain, spiced with research and a touch of craft, and what comes out is mighty tasty. Then, there’s the packaging, because while sausage might be delicious, no one wants to know how it’s made. I have found, personally, that I need to avoid reading modern in-genre fiction while I’m writing, because it affects my writing. I can, and will, read all sorts of other books, but I need some distance between me and the last urban fantasy I’ve read before writing Trickster Noir, for instance, just as I avoided reading any while I was writing Pixie. On the other hand, I have found that it’s terrific fun to have conversations about my characters as though they were real people. And anyone eavesdropping on us avidly plotting out Bella’s entrance to Court and conquest of Underhill by way of setting it (literally) on fire must have thought us quite mad. I hasten to assure you, by the way, that it was only a little fire, and there were extenuating circumstances on Bella’s part.

Writing doesn’t have to be hard work. Yes, it’s not easy, but the paradox is that the more fun you have with it, the more fun your reader will have, too. I started reading Ross MacDonald’s The Moving Target, to marinade my brain for Trickster Noir, the sequel to Pixie, and came across a great quote in the introduction. The novelist James M. Cain wrote, “to me, writing is the scrim through which the reader sees the story. If the writing is too fancy, or has patterns in it, there’s a conflict in the scrim. It disturbs the reader and he doesn’t see the story clearly.” When I sit down to write, I want to tell a story. Or rather, to dictate the story my characters are telling me. I hope you enjoy it, straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip as Lom is.

And where do you find this story? It’s available through Amazon, in print and ebook (DRM free, of course!). If you buy a print copy for signing, the ebook is available at a deep discount through the new MatchBook program.

Click on the little image above to buy, or try this link: Pixie Noir

18 thoughts on “Writing Pixie Noir

      1. I don’t know him either, but he seems to mention your book if you write and ask him to. Admittedly, I wrote and got no response, but my book had been in a Book Plug Friday already, so I’m figuring that’s why. Or, he just gets lots of mail. But it seems worth it in terms of the eyeballs, and I will be trying again with the next book.

        He has a contact tab at the top of his page. I’ve been reading him for a few years and he’s got great editorial selection and great links.

  1. As I said in another comment, looking back, the characters couldn’t have behaved differently. Lorn is an old fashioned, chivalrous man (sort of). Loving someone means you try very hard to do what is best for them, not for you.
    I see Bella, as where she is, because she is independent woman. She likes being independent, and strong, and not being in a boring “office job.” Taking care of the animals and wilderness, means she is never bored, but also not in a constant state of threat. She wants a partner, not a master, or a servant. Someone that she can depend on, to back her up, and not try to take over. (Something Lorn, and I would have trouble doing. We both want to protect those we love, or are in our care.) Lorn, and Bella are both “Protectors.” It’s part of who they are, at the most fundamental levels. Most people will try to protect others, in an emergency, but not always willingly. A few, have to be protected, because they are unable/unwilling to do it themselves. A very rare few, are born to be protectors. At most, we are 1 in 100, but more often, 1 in 1000. Very few wants us around, because we can think like a predator, but are willing to die to protect others. Disliked, because we ARE dangerous, and don’t always hide it.
    In a post by a soldier Thursday (IIRC on a Michael Z. Williamson post), he talked about being in Germany. He was looking at landmarks, and thinking. “Okay, if we drop that, just so, we can deny the enemy a vantage point, and slow them down.” Being able to do that scares a LOT of people, because all they can see is. “He knows how to be dangerous: Therefore, he is.” To a great many people, there are only sheep, predators, and “tame predators.”. They (historically) never understand that there ARE NO “tame predators.” Ultimately, a predator is unable to love. All they care about is their own needs and wants. A true Protector is always motivate by Love. They care about others, and will sacrifice their own lives for others, at need. Lorn, and Bella are Protectors, and can’t BE anything else.
    I see Bella as coming to that realization as PN progresses. She’s never been forced to choose her role before. Lorn (maybe) has always known. He sees it as “duty,” but it isn’t. Together, they prove what a real partnership is. It isn’t, One Plus One, equals Two. It’s One, Plus One, equals Three. It’s the two partners, and the partnership.

    1. Thank you Walter, that is more than I myself had realized about them – a lot of their relationship (especially Lom’s desire to but her best interests first) is drawn from real life. So I wrote what seemed natural for these two people, who aren’t just constructs that I carefully mapped out. To me, they’re real.

    1. It will not be available through Smashwords, however it is planned for release into the B&N and iBooks sites, with a slight delay as they are both a bit more difficult to work with. We are not going to be working with Smashwords going forward, the sales don’t justify it. If you need a particular format, let me know, and we will work on it!

      1. Thanks! I’ll probably get it through Amazon, then. I get irritated now and then with the different pricing that they used to toss in my road (from Japan — which they used to blame on shipping over the internet, monetary exchange costs for dollars on an American credit card, or taxes. One time they told me the author had priced it differently, which was amusing because I knew the author, and they didn’t know they had priced it differently). But… I do know how to get it that way. Smashwords used to be the one that was consistently available for me. But quite a few authors seem to be dropping it, so I should adjust.

        1. Smashwords developed payment problems, shall we say, in addition to not being the easiest system (or even the fifth-easiest) to use. Let me know if Amazon starts to give you a problem, and we can work something out. Give me an email at cedarlila@gmail.com if you have problems.

  2. Sometimes characters just walk into your head and don’t let go . . . your process sounds much like mine when I sat down to write ELFY (minus the noir aspects, of course). I started writing what I thought was going to be a short story, and it quickly morphed into a 240,000 word novel. (I swear, it must’ve been something in the water. Cross my heart.) Were my late husband not alive at that point, giving me encouragement, helping me with the editing, and telling me flatly when I thought I’d finished it up that no, I needed at least four more chapters because I didn’t fix X, Y, Z, AA, BB, etc., it would not be the same book.

    Anyway, I’m glad you listened when your characters showed up. I’ll be very interested to read PIXIE NOIR.

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