Our Favorite Thing We’ve Written, or In the Beginning

Joe and I have been friends for a long time.  We’ve been telling stories together, in one form or another, for most of the duration of that friendship.  We even wrote a novel together, years ago.  This is not the novel you hear us alluding to from time to time on this blog.  No, this was a totally different endeavor, and we’ll come to talk about it at some point.  While that novel was a valiant attempt, and it may resurface in some form later, it wasn’t really where this whole Gelineau and King thing began.  When I think about when our real partnership as writers began, I can pinpoint exactly the spot.

It began with “A Little Southern Hospitality.”

“A Little Southern Hospitality” is a short story published in Pro Se Productions collection Once Upon a Sixgun.

I had already had a story published with Pro Se, and when they put out a call for stories for a collection that dealt with fairy tale characters in the Old West, I knew that I wanted to do something for it.  More importantly, I knew that I wanted to do something with Joe for it.  A few years back, Joe and I had talked about doing something with fairy tales, but going back to the darker, grim (pun totally intended.  Don’t judge) versions of the stories.  Now it seemed, we would have a chance to really explore some of those old ideas.

At first, Joe was reluctant.  His life was busy, he was working insane hours, had just started a family.  But I talked to him about a few of the ideas I was kicking around, and Joe did what Joe does best.  Like my own personal Rumpelstiltskin, he took that straw and spun it into gold.

“A Little Southern Hospitality” follows the fairy tale character of Bluebeard, the notorious wife-murderer.

We took the murderous monster, steeped in the history and the culture of old Europe, and then imagined what he would be like in the American West.  In particular, we put him on a collision course with a young woman growing up in the town of Carthage, Missouri, during the American Civil War.  A young woman named Myra Belle Shirley, who the world would one day know as Belle Starr.

“A Little Southern Hospitality” taught us how we work.  Joe worked out the structure and the story.  I dug into the research of the people and the period.  And together, we told a story that still remains one of our favorite things we have done together.

I want to say more.  I want to talk about tropes and monsters and what happens when the old world meets the new.  But I’m going to hang back and restrain myself, on the off-chance that someone reading this might be inspired to take a look at the book and our story in it.

Even if no one does, “A Little Southern Hospitality” will always have a special place in my heart.  Because it is the story that marks the point in my life when my best friend became my creative and business partner, and set the course for our future together.

Not bad for 10,000 words.

-Mark

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