HIDE & SEEK | PERSONAL VERDICT
Ralph Langer RalphLanger.com
AUTHOR BLOG

   "HIDE&SEEK," a Jack Crocker/Jimmy McGuire mystery, was sparked by a desire to create a realistic and complicated main character that I'd like to know.  Jack Crocker became, to me, that person, struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from two Gulf Wars.  His tragic mistake involving his young son makes things worse even as he is trying for progress.
   I rewrote in first person after a dozen or so chapters.  I was intrigued by the heightened sense of immediacy. And all of the written "suggestions" in "How-to books" on writing indicated first person is more difficult.
   When I waffled a bit on that approach, I called a friend and former Dallas Morning News colleague, Paula LaRocque.  She is, I'm convinced, the best writing coach on the planet.  She unwaffled me and I've enjoyed the writing process including its challenges.
   Since publication of HIDE&SEEK, I've had numerous good reactions from readers to the two main characters, Jack Crocker and Jimmy McGuire.
  NOT GUILTY is a sequel that finds Jack and Jimmy in new adventures as private detectives seeking justice for a campus rape victim and investigating murders possibly tied to a newly exonerated man after 33 years in prison..

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   Personal Verdict developed from a germ of an idea I had while working at the Detroit Free Press during the Detroit riots of 1967.  I had a 45-minute drive to and from downtown each day; the return trip often at 1 or 2 a.m.  During the riots I thought about the causes of the the chaos and imagined two characters, one white and one black, developing a basic human friendship and respect.  The first concept was a story of revenge and clashing moralities.
   Many nights I wrote in my head during the drive home and typed the results on a Royal portable while everyone else was asleep. A draft of about a hundred pages was stashed in a Kodak photo paper box where it languished for the rest of my journalistic career.  I read through the draft manuscript three or four times over the years.  Often, some parts seemed written by someone else.  Sometimes I penciled an editing change on the yellowing paper only to find that I had already included the ideas on subsequent pages.
   After retiring early from The Dallas Morning News, I unexpectedly agreed to a stint as Interim Chair of the SMU journalism program and teaching courses in "Media Ethics," a subject that some people I encountered doubted even existed.  And my wife and I began enjoying summers in Montana in a funky little house on the Yellowstone River. 
   Several years ago I got serious about trying to complete the original story.  I read a shelf full of fiction-writing books: how to write dialogue, pacing, descriptions, character development, screen-writing and more.  
   For awhile, my journalism background made me feel slightly guilty when creating inner feelings, even for an imaginary character.  It was difficult to give myself permission to write "thoughts," instead of statements of actual people.
   I tossed some of my earlier chapters, re-wrote the others, added more characters and chapters.  The story is, I hope, clearly about conflicts within the main character's being as he changes from a naive college student, into someone considering actions he could never have imagined.
   I hope you enjoy the story.  Any comments or questions you have are welcome.  (ralphlanger@sbcglobal.net)