As you may recall from Monday’s post, I have finished my last manuscript and am now free to pursue something new. The problem, which I hinted at that day, is that I had no solid plans in mind for my next step.
I have a couple of ideas kicking around. One, tentatively called Grow, is about three people in Northern California: an illegal migrant desperate for a way to earn real money to send back home, a Latino gang member under the thumb of a Mexican cartel and, finally, a model who works in San Francisco’s porn industry. All of their stories are connected by marijuana, the lifeblood of the cartels, whether it be in the growing, selling or using of the substance. Such a manuscript would be something of a change of pace, though it would still be tied to the cartel-specific storylines of my last two published works, as well as a couple of manuscripts now circulating with publishers.
The second idea I have goes off in an entirely different direction. It’s set in Baltimore, which is not far from where I live, and concerns itself with dog fighting. We have something of a dog fighting problem in my state, though it is confined largely to the black and Latino communities. The story, called Grand Champ, involves an undercover policeman whose job it is to penetrate a well-established dog fighting ring and bust it up from the inside. Things grow more complicated as the real money-men are uncovered and there’s also an allusion to Michael Vick’s dog fighting troubles.
Just looking at the summaries I’ve done here, Grow seems like the likelier bet, as it has more defined characters and therefore more hooks for plot. Grand Champ, on the other hand, has been kicking around in my brain for a couple of years now and I even started outlining it once. The outline stalled because I was short on viable subplots, which is something that would have to be addressed if I chose to pick the story up again.
I’m actively aware of the expectations that are placed on me because of my last two published works. At this point it is pretty much assumed that the US/Mexico borderlands are my bailiwick. This is fine, but as I have pointed out elsewhere in this blog, I’m beginning to suffer from Mexico fatigue. So long as Mexico’s outrageously bloody drug war goes on, I’ll never be short of material, but with each successive novel set in that country I find I have less to say. How many times can I explain that Mexico is totally, and perhaps irrevocably, screwed? I don’t know.
So either one of these ideas would give me a break. They’re still crime, which means my particular brand will continue to develop, but they’re different enough that I won’t be treading the same ground again. I expect that by this time even my agent is tired of reading about Mexico, though she’s too nice to say so.
What are your thoughts? Do either of these proposed stories pique your interest? Do neither of them? Share with me your impressions in the comments.