Clowns on the Run

My story Clowns On The Run has been published as the Cover Feature in the September 2017 issue of Mystery Weekly Magazine. I’m deeply satisfied by this opportunity. I’ve never written much in the way of a mystery story before. In retrospect, probably I should have. And I’m sure in the future, I will write much more in this genre. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.

This blog post is intended to explain some of what went through my mind and onto the page when I was writing this story.

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The story is based on four characters in clown suits. For names, I called them Emmett, Charles, Glen and Lou. This was intentional. For a story about clowns, I read up on some of the greatest clowns in history and found this information:

Emmett Leo Kelly was an American circus performer, who created the memorable clown figure “Weary Willie”, based on the hobos of the Depression era.

Charles Adrien Wettach, was a Swiss clown, composer and musician. Called “the king of clowns” and “the greatest of Europe’s clowns”, he was once the most highly paid entertainer in the world.

Glen “Frosty” Little was a circus clown who was one of only four clowns ever to have been given the title “Master Clown” by the Ringling organization.

Lou Jacobs was an auguste clown who is credited with popularizing the clown car, which has been a staple of circus clown acts ever since.

(This information comes mostly from wikipedia.)

For the title, I picked Clowns on the Run. I was thinking of the Wings song Band on the Run. Some of the lyrics go something like this:

Stuck inside these four walls
Sent inside forever
Never seeing no one
Nice again like you

Band on the run, band on the run
And the jailer man and sailor Sam
Were searching every one
For the band on the run

Well, the night was falling as the desert world
Began to settle down.
In the town they’re searching for us everywhere
But we never will be found

And the county judge who held a grudge
Will search for evermore
For the band on the run
Band on the run

(Credit to Paul McCarthy for the words. Some lines have been cut out here.)

I got this idea of clowns on the run from that song. So then it was easy to change the title from Band on the Run to Clowns on the Run.

I really wanted to use a metaphor, but so often they are cliches. For this story, I got the idea of breaking a metaphor down. Due to respect for the publisher, I won’t reprint the lines here. Go and read the story. Subscribe to the magazine while you’re at it. But let me give you another similar example of what I mean by breaking a metaphor down.

She’d never seen snow in the mountains. They said the snow there was thick like a blanket. But snow couldn’t keep you warm. Snow couldn’t hide you from the monsters at night. Snow couldn’t be washed when it was unclean. The snow looked more like crumpled newspapers to her from here. 

Mountain peaks lined the horizon to the west. Like folded newspapers soaking up ink, printed lines of dark blue streaked upward through snow-white terrain. This was unique to her, the particular way those mountains sat below the skyline, and how they appeared to have words written in the snow, snow falling down and the letters all jumbled up. She’d never seen anything like these mountains before.

And so in Clowns on the Run I turned a really common metaphor inside out and then at the end of the story I put the metaphor right again. This was my experimentation with breaking a cliche and making it more useful that way.

I hope you take the time to read the story and support Mystery Weekly Magazine by picking up a copy. And leave some comments there, too! Thanks.

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