Faction? It is a little mental game I have played since I was young. It is fiction based on a fact. Take a fact and build a storyline around it. Over the years, it’s become one of my favorite writing exercises. Sometimes, those faction exercises grow legs and begin to walk (or run) on their own. That is exactly what happened with my MuseItYoung debut novel, THE YOUNGER DAYS.
The first fact
A relative told me of a family legend handed down from an old uncle, who grew up in the late 1800’s on a southwest Missouri farm. According to the story, the infamous outlaws Cole and Jim Younger spent the night in their barn while on the run from Pinkerton detectives after the James-Younger gang robbed a bank.
I began to see things from a young boy’s POV and a story began to fall in place. The Younger brothers would be outlaw heroes of the boy main character while his parent’s would lead a life completely against anything to do with rebels or outlaws. The story started to walk, but it was still a short story at best.
The second fact
“All from least to greatest shall know me says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” -Jeremiah 31:34.
In church one Sunday, the readings included the above verse. Through this simple verse about redemption and forgiveness, the story took off. A whole back story began to grow of a secret past shared between the parents and the outlaws. A past intertwined with the atrocities of the Border War battle for “Bloody” Kansas with it's gangs of ruffians, Quantrill’s Raiders from Missouri and Doc Jennison’s Redlegs from Kansas. And from the POV of the young boy, who knows nothing of this hidden past, it set up a very solid framework to build an interesting surprise visit by his heroes, the Youngers. With this setup in place, the ideas really began to flow and my novel was born.
So, you see, there really are no trivial facts. With a little imagination and some creative faction juice, even a seemingly insignificant piece of information can blossom into a complete work of fiction.
A big “thank you” to Sue for hosting me on her YA and MG Blog Bonanza. I appreciate you stopping by and hope you enjoy THE YOUNGER DAYS.
Even a decade after the Civil War, the evil deeds carried out in the Border War for "Bloody" Kansas are not forgotten. Hate and revenge still rule the hearts of some, while others wish only to forget and disappear.
In the beginning, Boy Smyth has a dull Missouri farm life and a burning desire to be an outlaw like his hero, Cole Younger.
In the end, Boy Smyth has five dead bodies and two burning buildings at his farm and the most feared man in the United States crying outside his front gate.
And that desire for the outlaw life? It's purged completely from his system.
Mike Hays Bio
THE YOUNGER DAYS is Mike Hays first book. He is a husband, a father of three, a lifelong Kansan and works as a molecular microbiologist. Besides writing, he has been a high school strength and conditioning coach, a football coach and a baseball coach. He is a member of the Catholic Writer's Guild, has published three football coaching articles and co-authored several scientific papers.
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