Check out below the origin of “Pigeon-Blood Red.”
Someone once said, “Inside every lawyer is a writer trying to get out.” That is an exaggeration, of course, but maybe only a slight one. A few hugely successful writers who started out as lawyers and who readily come to mind are: John Grisham, James Patterson, David Baldacci, Steve Berry, and Scott Turow (who, last I heard, still practices). And believe me, that list only scratches the surface.
At any given moment there are numerous current and former lawyers who are trying their hand at becoming published writers. I know because until February 25 of this year I was one of them. On that date my first novel, Pigeon-Blood Red, was published by a small West Coast company, The Zharmae Publishing Press.
For 37 years I was a practicing trial lawyer with a national law firm based in Cleveland. In addition to an occasional trial, I wrote reams of briefs and opinion letters. I specialized in something called “insurance coverage,” which in general meant it was my job to evaluate whether or not a particular accident or loss was or was not covered by an insurance policy. In 2008 I wrote a legal text called “Ohio Insurance Coverage,” but I didn’t count that text as fulfilling my quest to become a published author, since it isn’t fiction, and what I really wanted to do was to write fiction, especially crime fiction.
So on July 1, 2012 I retired to do just that. I had wanted to write since high school, but I was seriously bitten by the writing bug sometime in the late 1970’s. Around that time I joined a book club and bought a number of classics in various genres. One was called, “The Novels of Dashiell Hammett.” I hadn’t heard of Hammett and I’m not sure what attracted me to him, but I started reading The Maltese Falcon, his best known novel, and became fascinated by it, especially the riveting, realistic dialogue. If you haven’t seen the movie version, try to catch it. Much of the dialogue is taken verbatim from the novel, which is one of the reasons it has become a classic. (There were actually three movie versions of the novel: the 1931 version, a 1936 version in which the title was changed to Satan Met a Lady, and the 1941 classic starring Humphrey Bogart as the iconic private eye Sam Spade).
I resisted the urge to write something myself until the late 1990’s when the novelist inside me finally broke out. I was attending a legal seminar in Honolulu when one evening the germ of an idea came to me. I had a vision of a woman traveling in Honolulu and carrying something valuable that bad people — dangerous people — were trying to get their hands on and I saw a lawyer coming to her rescue. Making the hero a lawyer was easy because, after all, that’s what I was. But I had to flesh out the rest of the plot, which took a while.
I worked on the novel sporadically after work during the week and on weekends over the next several months. After setting it aside for months on end when I was too busy at work to concentrate on it, I finally finished it. Over the years came character and plot changes, drafts and re-drafts, attendance at writers’ conferences, many submissions to agents, and many rejections. Then the title, originally Murder in Paradise, became the much more evocative Pigeon-Blood Red.
I didn’t realize until after the novel was written, except perhaps subconsciously, that the bejeweled Maltese falcon in Hammett’s novel became in mine an exquisite pigeon-blood red Ruby necklace. Nor did I recognize that Sam Spade, the private eye in The Maltese Falcon, who comes to the aid of the duplicitous Brigid O’Shaughnessy, in my novel became Paul Elliott, a young African American partner in a large Chicago law firm, who, while vacationing in Honolulu, comes to the aid of the guileless Evelyn Rogers, into whose hands the priceless Ruby necklace has fallen.
There, however, the similarities between the two novels end. In my novel another character, Rico, shares the stage with Paul and Evelyn. A killer with a conscience, Rico is dispatched to Honolulu to retrieve the necklace. As I developed his character, he constantly fought to upstage Paul and Evelyn to become the center of attention. You’ll have to read the novel to find out how successful he was.
PIGEON-BLOOD RED Pigeon-Blood Red is a new crime thriller novel by Ed Duncan. It is available for sale on Amazon, published by Zharmae. Genres: Crime / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense Synopsis For un…