I’m tempted to say my crime novel, Sky Dog, was inspired by a dream, but that wouldn’t be fully accurate. The idea did come to me in the middle of the night in the hours before dawn. I’d awakened and the sounds of the Mexican night were the usual mix of complete silence intermittently pierced by the howls and yapping of distant dogs.
Instead of falling back to sleep, my half-conscious mind conjured up the image of a Bangkok vigilante named Sky Dog. The details filled in without any effort on my part, as though I was watching a film. Sky Dog would be:
“…a shadowy figure, a homeless guy who wandered back and forth the length of the Bangkok Skyway, the city’s elevated train. Sky Dog was an orphan born to a Thai prostitute and a black G.I. Tall for a Thai, and dark-skinned, he wore combat boots, Madras shorts, a black Singha beer T-shirt, and a green U.S. Army jacket with sergeant’s stripes. His hair was worn in a self-administered buzz cut, something you’d see in a bughouse. Sky Dog spoke hardly at all, but he had a sixth sense for knowing when someone was in trouble down below on the street. There were lots of tales of him wading into street fights, with a lead pipe as a weapon. The pipe was camouflaged, wrapped in yellow contact paper decorated with bluebirds and flowers and the English word: Happiness.”
Getting an idea in the middle of the night is unusual for me, and I felt like a hand-cranked coffee grinder. As I lay in bed, the embryonic story was a swirl of pulp culture touch-points and personal experience. I’ve travelled to Bangkok several times, one of my favourite cities in the world; and in New York City, when I was a bookseller on the streets, I had my own Happiness stick for self-defence. I’ve also had screenplays optioned, and my own scuffles splashing around in the Hollywood shark tank.
The ideas kept coming through the night—that the protagonist would be a Hollywood film director in need of a hit. When he stumbles upon the urban legend of the Thai hero named Sky Dog, he realizes this may be a peg on which to hang his comeback. I also knew that at some point in the narrative, the film director would have to step out from behind the camera to somehow become Sky Dog himself, in order to right a wrong (the details at this point didn’t matter—it was enough that I was getting a framework to hang the story).
I’m a big proponent of Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, which in this case allows you to read gratis the first five chapters of Sky Dog. Be my guest and wade in…
Get your copy of Sky Dog HERE!