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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mike Hays visits the Blog Bonanza

Faction Fiction

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.

Email -
Twitter - @coachhays64
Facebook Page - Mike Hays


gail roughton branan said...

Mike, that's the best description of writing I've ever seen! Yes, that's what I write! Faction. Incidentally, I first met Mike when he guested at Ro Dowell's blog and happened to mention a family legend we have involving a gentleman named Bill Anderson, purported to have ridden with Jesse James. I'd never beleived it or believed a Bill Anderson existed, but Mike commented back, "Holy Toledo, Gail! Do you mean Bloody Bill Anderson, the fiercest of Quantrell's Raiders?!" I almost croaked. And when I looked him up on the internet -- he looks just like a picture I have of my granddaddy in his early twenties except my granddaddy was blond. So with this story, Mike sorta confirmed the family legends of another writer many miles away! Don't you just love cyberspace?

Victoria Roder said...

I enjoyed your explaination. What a great way to look at it and the best to you with your novel.

Mike Hays said...

Thanks, Gail. Yes, I do love cyberspace. It is quite a big deal when your family tree has roots in one of the most famous irregular army groups in US history.

Victoria,thanks for the well wishes on my book and glad you liked the post.

Sue Perkins said...

Lovely to have you visit Mike, loved your description of faction. Hope you have a good time on the Blog Bonanza

Pat McDermott said...

Mike, I like your analogy of a story growing legs and walking/running on its own. Even the most trivial piece of information can provide fodder for a story, as long as it's something as solid as your family legend, and that's from a writer' POV. For young readers, this is gold.

Wendy said...

FACTION - good solid explantion. Wonderful you found a fact so close to home so you can claim it and change it as yours.
Sometimes I come across a fact, I think will make the transition to fiction but I'm too worried that I'll be exploitng someone else's opportunity. Silly, I suppose but it does balk me. I'll delve into my family and see if there are any sceletons there. Thanks for the incentive.

'Finding a Faction' would be a great writing exercise too. Would you mind if I use this idea in my ezine next month, giving you the credit of course.

Anonymous said...

Great post. The book sounds interesting and I like that cover.


Mike Hays said...

Sue - I had a great time on your Blog Bonanza! Thanks for having me.

Pat - Yes, the growing legs analogy is pretty much how it's done for me. An idea usually starts as a short story, sits awhile and sometimes incubates into a novel.

Wendy - Feel free to use the concept in your ezine. I have a workshop I am working on to present at the MIU conference next fall. It does make a good exercise.

Susan - Thanks! I hope readers like the action, the history and the characters. As far as the cover, I love it. Kaitalin Platt really caught lighting in a bottle with it.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Faction! That's a great idea. Congratulations on your book, Mike. Tails about outlaws are fascinating, at least to me, and most young readers, I would thin. Best of luck with your story.