Uncle Josh watches The Maltese Falcon

It’s a sick day, which means I’m working at home and working is really about checking my email and handling emergencies and trying to think about solving problems that are much easier on three screens than the single laptop screen I have today.

This means I am finally watching the Netflix DVD of Casablanca, only it wasn’t Casablanca like I thought it was. It was The Maltese Falcon, which is fine because I it’s been ages since I’ve seen the movie (it’s also been ages since I got the DVD from Netflix. I wonder when they start worrying about these things).

When I write I tend toward the hard-boiled prototype, and Sam Spade is one of the big ones. I relied on The Continental Op and Philip Marlowe as my model more than Sam Spade. Spade is in a single book that has been turned into a few movies so there isn’t a lot of original material to pull from. This is still quite enough and now I’m wondering if I could create a Sam Spade style character.

My current stable of hard-boiled narrators include:

  • Murdock Collins (1 published story: Live Feed) who solves problems in a future Portland
  • John Tarakona who solves problems in the same future Portland
  • “Space Cowboy’ – a marshall on a space station who greases wheels with human-xenic relationships

None of them really go wild with stories and words like Spade does. Spade is making shit up left and right. He’s a talker and I’m not quite sure how much of that was Spade being in control of the situation or trying to take control of the situation. He’s thrust into a layered mystery where everyone lies. In the end it appears he did everything simply in an act of revenge, or at least to save face for his profession.

Could I write like this? Could I save Tarakona from the trunk by turning him into a babbler? I think I’ve only got one story even close to done with him and frankly I don’t remember what it was really about. Like most of my trunk it is just a hook and I’m not sure I had a plan with the story.

I think to build a story, like any mystery, there needs to be plans and lies built on top of them and that’s like a whole new level of plotting I haven’t dared.