I was born in 1970. With the wild life I have led, I always thought I would have been dead by 30, yet here I am, the once punk kid, all grown up and middle-aged. Time changes everything—every single thing. And at random moments throughout, there are inflection points. These are points where life radically changes due to a physical or mental incident or moment of clarity.
What does this have to do with writing? Every change and every moment affects the craft, as all fiction is based on experience, research, and imagination.
One inflection point was when I was 14 and the police picked me up from school and took me to West Oaks under a mental health warrant, and another was a car wreck that put a titanium plate and screws in my right arm. Both of those inflection points bookend my unpublished Rebel’s Edge manuscripts. Rebel’s Edge is my only true autobiographical work. My other books have bits and pieces of distorted reality in their fictions, mixed with a heavy influence of genre cinema.
The most recent inflection point, the pandemic, severed lots of ties, but it also gave way to introspection. Aside from the writing, the unreleased Future-Thrill, a dystopian cyberpunk novel, and Modulator, a Giallo book, I really have had to think about who I am at this point in my life. The reset hit especially hard after moving around the country and traveling for work so much in the prior decade. I am not sure what I have found in myself, but it feels like peace.
Inflection points often mark other changes. One significant one is how some friends are only around briefly for a particular era of one’s life. Granted, some connections may last a lifetime, but others evaporate over distance, separate paths, or life choices. I used to worry about losing touch—losing part of myself for sharing—but now I know it is only the way of the world. Friends that seemed close, at work or play, drift away. It reminds me of the famous line from Blade Runner: “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.” Life goes on. There is no fighting change; there is only the flow of time.
Ultimately, some connections are of the moment, and that is fine, as I can always foster the important ones and forge new ones. My point is that every action and every experience, whether real or imagined, feeds the fire of creation.
Inspired by true crime and a trip to Billings, Montana, here is the opening to the Dolphin Street screenplay:
EXT. DOLPHIN STREET — PHOTOS
Newspaper photos of a crime scene, showing images of policemen removing plastic-wrapped bodies from under a dilapidated house, fill the screen.
One in seven young adults will run away before the end of their teenage years. In the United States, there are 1.3 million homeless youth on any given night. Most runaways are victims of abuse, with half never reported missing. Thousands roam the inner cities, invisible to the world. The streets are a world of survival filled with violence and crime—an underworld of dolphins and sharks. Some runaways will make it out of the street surf like dolphins at play and go back home; others will become sharks, hustlers of different sorts, to persevere; and an unlucky few will disappear, never to be found alive again.
The last photograph is of the street corner with the dilapidated house in the background.
DOLPHIN STREET — TITLE
EXT. JASON'S SUBURBAN ROOM NIGHT
Newspaper clippings line the floor of JASON's bedroom. They
range from tales of runaways who disappeared to crimes on the streets.
Jason looks from one to the other of the rogue characters in black and white. A trench coat wearing KNAPPY had been taken in for attempted assault, shoplifting, and arson. SYD, a red-haired firebrand, and HEX, a real butch, make up a psychotic lesbian couple who stole a baby once. Jason pushes aside a picture of LIEV, a once-white supremacist with a teardrop tattoo below his left eye and a scar across his face—a known felon rumored to have killed someone in a knife fight. And then there was HOUND, a hulking, shadowy figure who was mute and had killer shining out of his dead eyes. Shoving the clippings around, he stops on TREVOR who had disappeared two years ago. Jason moves his index finger across the printed face, then grabs his wrist and rubs on the rough skin of an old scar, brought on by his own hand.
A scream causes Jason to jump. He rushes to the window and looks out on his backyard. His best friend’s, KELLY’s, house is across the way, another two-story suburban house. Her bedroom window is dark. A night breeze softly flaps a quilt on a clothesline in Kelly's yard. Jason waits, but the scream does not come again.
The silence in suburbia is eerie.