Fan of the weird? Old west gunfights and lawmen? Zombies? Dope?
Then buddy…I’ve got one for you.
The story comes on the heels of Scratches and Unholy (these are both free by the way) and is a follow up to the earlier novel Ain’t No Law in California that was published by Solstice Publishing. The novel didn’t come off near as dark as I had hoped, so in penning a second, I took pause to play around with a string of shorts to get my bearing and figure out just how I wanted Dan Bardwell to be read. I’d always envisioned the guy as dark and really wanted the first story to go the direction.
If you read the first one, you already know the Sacramento lawman is badass, but the overall feel of the story came off somewhat YA by the end of it? A lot of that was my fault and let me explain. Ain’t No Law in California started back about 2010 and was as traditional as fuck. No future, space-age nuclear war, zombies, any of it. The story took place right on the heels of the civil war and took place in the fictional Virginia town of Hard Times as the four main characters and an orphaned black boy take to the roads on the way to California. Two of the cast are killed not far from home—one in making a getaway from a bank robbery and the other in a resulting shootout with the law in no man’s land.
I’d spent a half dozen years rewriting the story and it ain’t too bad. While doing a short story for a zombie anthology that never got off the ground, I decided to change the main character and drop the other three…Dan Bardwell came about as a Sacramento lawman in a futuristic state of California—that was renamed Sacramento after a nuclear war in 2017. (The war was started BTW by a rogue Asia dictator and head-strong U.S. president) Sound familiar?
Anyway…using the orphaned black boy—Franklin Curtis—Dan Bardwell and his young partner—Curtis—started out trailing outlaws a hundred years in the future (which is really more like our past). The story captured elements of steampunk and sci-fi—in seeing it through their eyes—as it made its way toward the end. As the original was actually three separate novellas, the novel was three separate stories that ran together.
I added three characters in the final third, giving them the names of my three grandchildren…that’s where we took on the YA feel. I couldn’t have the kids get hurt, so the whole thing had a happier ending than I had originally planned.
The two boys might make an appearance in the follow-up novel, but the thing will be a lot darker with a lot more death and evil, injustice…just an overall darkness and that’s where these shorts come in. It gives me a chance to explore the dark recesses of my mind. You know…find those shitty places where you don’t dare go or don’t dare tell anyone if you do?
Give these three a read and let me know what you think.