Only a handful of people have read my unpublished novel, The Courtship of Gary Huang, in its entirety, so before I prattle on about a character named Crash, I probably ought to fill the rest of you all in on his history.
Crash shows up half way through Courtship as a kind of the scene-stealing sidekick chracter. But unlike, say, Jack on Will & Grace, Crash is the anti-thesis of gay stereotypes — he dresses in secondhand clothes, his hair is a mess, he’s butch and he plays in a punk band. He doesn’t date much.
Crash, however, has a past — long ago, he was a prodigious prosecutor with the New York City District Attorney’s Office. He graduated from John Jay near the top of his class, and he was a natural in the courtroom. It wasn’t long before the young Crash — I’m thinking he’s about 24, 25 — was handling homicide cases. One case, however, spiraled into something bigger.
While preparing a murder-for-hire case, Crash eventually discovers the complicity of a city council member and a criminal scheme which led to the murder. It was a career-defining moment for Crash, and his place on the political fast-track was ensured.
Then he quit.
He lost contact with his colleagues in the DA’s office, and nobody knew what happened to him. (He went back to school to get a second degree in music, but dropped out. He started “playing” guitar and formed a few bands. He met Gary Huang too.)
One night, Crash meets Adam Fulton, a dealer selling Ecstacy. Adam sees Crash at one of his shows and wants to meet him. Crash figures Adam is good for a lay but probably not much else. They’re both surprised when they decide they want to start seeing each other.
Adam, however, gets busted a few times, and Crash gets him out of his scrapes. They argue about his dealing, and Adam loses interest in Crash. They break up.
A few months after the break-up, Adam is found murdered.
Detective Mark Cleary catches the case. Cleary is an out-of-the-closet cop, and he’s works hard to maintain the respect of his colleagues. He looks an awful lot like David James Elliott, by the way.
Here’s where the first Crash book begins.
The Crash novels are meant to be straight-forward mysteries, the kind of books I really want to write. (However cool I may think my “supernatural crime fiction” universe is, I’d still love to tackle a mainstream genre.) But the sub-plot I’m constantly being distracted by is the romance between Crash and Cleary.
Crash plays hard-to-get. He’s as much attracted to Cleary as Cleary is to him, but Crash isn’t accustomed to being desired.
However much I ought to be plotting out some crimes, I keep mulling over the “in-between” scenes — developments between the two characters that happen outside of any crime plot.
I’ve already imagined this one incident after Adam’s murder is solved. Cleary goes to see Crash perform. Crash, however, has to lug all his equipment on the subway. Cleary, however, drives up in his SUV and gives Crash a lift.
After he’s helped Crash bring his equipment up to his apartment, Crash makes an off-hand remark about not having cash to pay him for his services. Cleary says Crash can pay him with a kiss. Crash is about to peck Cleary on the cheek, when Cleary stops him and specifies a real kiss, full on the lips.
Crash agrees. They kiss (their first), and it gets pretty hot.
They stop before it leads to anything else, and Cleary leaves. “You know,” Cleary says before stepping out of the door, “that was way better than I ever imagined.”
The other scene I’ve imagined is when they first sleep together. I’m ripping off Bedrooms and Hallways.
Cleary shows up to Crash’s door one night. Crash thinks its business, some case Cleary is working on that he needs to get off his chest.
“What’s on your mind detective?” Crash asks.
“You are,” Cleary answers.
And they have at it.
What’s distracting are these two characters. Just what does a hot, sexy detective see in a burned-out, underachieving ex-lawyer? What qualities do each of these chracters have that make them work so well together? And what issues do each have to make the relationship a challenge?
You see why I can’t concentrate on plotting out the crimes?