So how does an undead teen boy down on his luck make some quick money? Letting his friends shoot him, of course. What a great idea. How did you come up with it?
I’m not sure. Originally the story was going to be about the protagonist chasing down his murderer, but then the current opening scene happened and the story just went from there.
Though my summary above was kind of flip, “Shooting Gallery” is quite somber. Paulie’s own undead state is sad, but his mother’s situation is just devastating—poor and alone, yet with her dead son still around, slowly falling apart. Even the boys wanting excitement through a video of shooting someone are pathetic in their way. Does any of this have an underlying meaning that you want to share?
For Paul and his mother, I wanted to write about people with no options. They recognize that the other needs serious help, but for both this help is beyond their means and so they can only watch as the other fails. And this helplessness has led to frustration and a breakdown in communication between the two; they no longer talk, and Paul prefers to dwell on what he remembers of her before his death.
As for the boys, they have this rather fantastic, violent wish and it’s all carried out without the usual consequences of shooting someone with a gun. But Paul on the other hand cannot fulfill his more mundane wish without the destruction of his body. The worries that haunt him do not apply to them, and I wanted to show that contrast.
Did the story surprise you or give you any trouble as you were writing it?
Not many surprises, no. Once that opening scene happened the ending came along, too.
What projects are you working on now?
I’d like to finish a book. Something for young adults, but writing is hard. Hopefully I can get something done before the end of the year.
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