Monday, June 29, 2009
I Shot You Babe by Leslie Langtry
I’m so excited to be able to guest-blog on my release day! Thank you Terra! My fourth book, I Shot You Babe, debuts on bookshelves today! This is the fourth book in the Greatest Hits series at Dorchester, featuring the adventures of the Bombay Family, whose business is assassination.
My first book (‘Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy) in the series was about Gin Bombay, soccer-mom/assassin and her trials and tribulations as she tries to start up a Girl Scout troop for her kindergartner and take out a terrorist for the family business. The second book featured Dak, Gin’s younger, playboy brother as he juggles a son he didn’t know existed with rival agency of assassins in Guns Will Keep Us Together. Since each book features a different Bombay, the third book, Stand By Your Hitman, was about the family’s inventor, Missi, as she tries to complete her assignment while on a cheap, Canadian knock-off of Survivor. This brings us to I Shot You Babe, about Coney (or Cy), a carney with a Ph.D. in philosophy and a guinea pig named Sartre. It takes place mostly in Mongolia.
I just re-read this and it looks a little like a crazy person wrote it. But it’s all true. My books are just a smidge off-kilter, or “delightfully whacked out,” as one reviewer called it.
But these things pale in comparison to the idea that I broke the rules on two of the books. Dak and Cy’s books are written completely in first person. These are romances strictly from the male point of view.
When I first did this with Guns Will Keep Us Together, my editor said, “Wow. No one has really done that before.” My response was, “It’s a good thing you never told me that or I wouldn’t have written it.” Why did I write these books that way? I guess my answer is a little schizophrenic. Because that’s the way the characters told me their story. I’m not sure I could’ve written them any other way.
Granted, writing as a man is pretty hard. My critique group had to work overtime to remind me what a guy wouldn’t say. And I can’t even tell you how many times I bugged my husband while he was showering/working/asleep to ask him if a man would really say, “lovely.”
In the end, they were published how I wrote them. I’d like to think it’s because I’m brilliant but I think it mostly has to do with my patient (and possibly desperate) editor. But you can check it out for yourself:
Excerpt ~ Chapter 1
“I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.” -Mark Twain
Okay. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A pro football player walks into a bar. He falls to the floor clutching his head in pain and says, “I didn’t see that coming.” True story. Although maybe, just maybe, it would be more accurate to say the iron rod walked into the football player, but I’m telling it my way.
I managed to kick the guy in the ribs as he tried to get up, but one of his enormous hands (which, I assume, can only have made him good at his sport) grabbed my ankle and pulled me down to join him on the floor. It was at this point he seemed to gain the upper hand. The lumbering side-o-beef with legs climbed on top of me, bouncing my head off the cement twice. This did nothing for my self-esteem and probably wasn’t good for the “rugged attractiveness” women told me I had. Did you know you actually do see stars when your head is pummeled against something so unyielding as concrete? I know, it seems too cartoonish, but then, there it is.
I distracted my target by biting his forearm. I’m not fond of biting, but in this business, you have to think quickly. As he screamed, I punched him in the throat, and he crumpled over like a stack of dimes. With Vic (as in, my victim) facedown, I climbed on top and began my chokehold. Frankly, I was tired of using a chokehold. So overdone and not terribly elegant.
Vic struggled to get free, but unfortunately for him, he was losing strength. To my surprise, he got lucky and managed to flail out, catching me (quite to his surprise) in the gut with his elbow. I dropped him and he scrambled backward until he hit the wall.
I walked toward him slowly (for dramatic effect, of course). The bastard wasn’t going anywhere. Stupid athlete. They always think they can handle themselves in a fight. It was true he was much larger than me. But it was also true that because of this fact, he’d never really had to fight before. For his first actual battle, he was literally fighting for his life. A brilliant irony I thought would likely be wasted on him.
My fist hit him square in the face, and he slid down the wall. Through the gurgling blood coursing from his nose into his mouth just seconds before I sent the broken shards of his nose piercing into his brain, he asked, “Who are you?”
Bombay. Coney Island Bombay. Actually, you can call me Cy. I only go by Coney when I’m working as a carney. Most of the time I prefer eliminating the middle three letters from my name. It’s kind of like what I really do, which is eliminating bad people.
That might sound a bit simplistic. Sorry about that. But there really is no point in analyzing it any further. I know this because I have a Ph.D. in philosophy and it has driven me to distraction most of my life. It is possible to over think things now and then. After all, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
This, however, isn’t one of those times. This time, the cigar is more than it seems. The rather ugly, large cigar of which I speak (who now lay lifeless on his basement floor) was a popular sports figure who ran an illegal white slave trade on the side. I’ve never been much of a sports fan. It seems wrong to me that professional athletes make millions of dollars when scientists trying to cure cancer and teachers educating children live from check to check. This gig was my own small contribution to evening things out. You know. The old yin-yang thing.
My Vic was a professional football player who’d invested in an Eastern European slaver. The slaver sent young women all over the world to work as prostitutes. I use the past tense because I took care of that bastard a couple of days ago. The athlete was quick to join him in death. It wasn’t pretty. And honestly, I don’t feel too bad about that.
Most of the Bombays tend to maintain a low profile when it comes to wet work. Making murder look like an accident seems to make them feel better. I don’t really go that route. My preferred modus operandi is to actually make it appear to be foul play. And if you knew how bad these people were, you’d probably agree with me.
Two days later, the police and media seemed to think the Russian mafia was responsible and when the evidence I left behind revealed his crimes, Vic’s jersey and status were yanked from the Football Hall of Fame. My mother and the rest of the Bombay Council were pleased. Dad, an Aussie, had to call to remind me that technically, my Vic didn’t play real football. But that’s Pop, always splitting hairs.
My family history is interesting, in a bloodthirsty sort of way. The Bombays have cornered the market on international assassination for hire since ancient Greece. Every infant born into Bombay blood becomes a killer. We begin training at age five and progress from there. There is no way out. Once you are born a Bombay, your fate is sealed. No one rebels unless they have a suicide wish. Occasionally, one does. What can I say? Every family has at least one idiot. Doesn’t yours?
The football job took place in Chicago, and a few days later I was in Omaha. The alarm went off at six a.m., and I sat up on the edge of my bed, running my hands through my hair. You might think I’m a morning person. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m actually more of a discipline guy. I get up to make myself functional. The exercise that follows is simply for masochistic purposes. I’ve been told I’m in excellent shape. It’s the discipline thing.
Wheek! Wheek! came the brain-splitting cry of my guinea pig, Sartre. The minute I wake up, she reminds me that it’s time for breakfast. She’s affectionate and sweet, but I’ve always suspected that she considers me to be little more than a servant.
“Here you are,” I said as I placed a small dish of strawberries, collard greens and baby carrots in front of her. Sartre grunted and began her feast. I walked to the door of my trailer to get the paper.
When I’m on the road (which is pretty much always), I like to park my RV in Wal-Mart parking lots. They seem to have a camper cult following. Every one I’ve stayed at leaves a newspaper at my door in the morning and has fresh coffee ready before the shoppers arrive. I like that. It’s a nice touch.
Opening the door revealed a bright, late August. I scooped up the paper and nodded to the older woman standing in the parking lot, across from me. It was then I realized that I hadn’t put any clothes on. Huh. I shut the door behind me (but not before winking at the lady) and after tossing the paper on a chair, threw on some running clothes. Ten minutes later, I opened the door to find her and several other women standing in the same place. I don’t know what they hoped to see, but clearly my having clothes on had been a bit of a buzz kill. Just for fun I grinned and shouted “G’day ladies” with an Australian accent (something I inherited from Dad). That seemed to do the trick. I believe one actually fainted.
Make sure and leave Leslie a question about the Chapter One Excerpt and your email addy to be eligable to win a delicious copy of "I Shot You Babe". One lucky winner will be announced on Friday!