There are a lot of genres that I love. I love screwball comedy. Give me a Sunday filled with black & white movies starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and I’m happy.
But follow that movie up with some film noir and I’m thrilled. When I was young, which I no longer am, I used to record after school movies on VHS.
In my dreams I was a cool-as-ice, leggy mystery woman, with seams up the back of my legs and a smoky voice. I love mysteries where even the good guys don’t always tell the truth.
But I wasn’t quite sure how I could do it and, even, if I could do it. Write a mystery inspired by film noir.
And, oh yeah, since it was also a love story between two guys, how do I write a femme fatale? Who gets to smile mysteriously, as a plume of smoke obscures their eyes?
So I listened to a lot of film soundtracks and tried to figure out how to make someone into the shady lady I always thought I wanted to be.
Though the thing is, when you’re a new writer, like me, you’re sort of tempted to make your main character the coolest, smartest, kindest, most well-adjusted person. The problem was, the film noir characters I like the best are kind of…well, awful. It’s not so much they’re the bad guys. I like heroes who are flawed.
I’d rather watch Veronica Mars solve a crime than Miss Marple. I’d rather slay with Faith than Buffy. I like characters who are rough around the edges, who, maybe aren’t nice.
That was where I started with the character of Timothy Mitchell. I wanted him to be a good guy, but not a nice one. I wanted his defensive side to be the first one that people see. He doesn’t let his guard down easily.
And, what about that shady lady? She’s a he this time around. He’s a tall and burly and has some secrets behind muscles and cigarettes.
Now, one shouldn’t smoke. It’s a bad, bad habit, but since these guys are only real on the page and in the mind, let’s let that slide for the duration of the book, shall we?
Where was I? Ah, yes. Film noir depends on light and dark and morally ambiguous heroes and villains and people not making the best choices. And, while I’d like to think that, maybe, one day, I’ll be the next James M. Cain, mostly I just wanted to write something that I would like to read. If I hadn’t written it. Because it’s just weird for me to read stuff I actually wrote.
But not weird for you. Nope. Not at all. I hope you like it. And I hope you tell all your friends. And relatives. Tell your relatives too.
The son of an alcoholic mother, Wyatt Courtland skips school to work construction to help the family survive. When he finds a lockbox containing a series of articles about Bobby LaFleur, a student who went missing four years ago, he enlists the help of sheriff’s son Timothy Mitchell to learn what happened to Bobby.
Timothy wants to go into law enforcement, even if it’s against his father’s wishes. He figures solving this case will convince his dad he can handle police work, but as he digs deeper, he uncovers a string of missing boys—and the truth about Wyatt’s desire to find out what truly happened to Bobby. As the two grow closer, they realize the mystery is far more sinister than they imagined—and it’s a secret someone is willing to kill to protect.
John R. Petrie grew up in Boston and now lives in the Bronx, NY. Almost his entire working career has been spent around books, from his first job in the town library to more than twenty years bookselling in one of the biggest bookstores in the US. He’s also worked for the Housing Works thrift stores in NYC, Valiant Entertainment Comics, and is now a bookstore manager, which gives him too much access to books and not enough time to read them.
He’s had stories published in True Romance magazine, had a play he wrote produced at his college, acted, danced, and was nominated for a Barrymore award playing Belize in Angels in America.
He stays up too late, eats too much junk food, and has been reading Wonder Woman comics for over forty years.
He is very, very happy to be published by Harmony Ink Press. He hopes to write stories which make people smile.
For Vicky’s review of BURIED SECRETS, go to the LGBTQ+ young adult page