I grew up in what west coasters colloquially refer to as “flyover country.” Specifically, Kansas. Flat, gold, extreme weather. I grew up hunting and fishing, and doing all sorts of crazy things in the eyes of people from the left coast. (Please note: I am NEVER mucking out a stable again, thank you.)
From my grandfather, I inherited a couple of extremely old firearms. As in, manufactured before I was born and well kept. My dad got most of the old ones, and one of these days, I’ll inherit those as well. And I do mean old. I have a little .22 Short High Standard that belonged to my great-grandmother when she was young. And a Lee-Enfield .303 rifle that was, as near as I can tell, manufactured in Pakistan right after the Partition. Etc. Weird stuff.
Along the way, I started my own collection. Mostly old and exotic stuff. Blame the old DC character Manhunter (the Goodwin and Simonson version, not that green weirdo), and George Lucas. I fell in love with the old Mauser 1896 Broomhandle. And I bought myself one. Rarely shoot it, because ammunition is so hard to find, but I’ve owned it for more than 20 years. The other pieces have similar exotic heritage.
So yesterday, I’m in a room with a collection of writers, most of whom are from the left/west coast and know nothing about firearms, except what they see in the movies. And one of my fiance’s friends turns to me and says “She tells me you own guns…”
That is not a conversation opener I ever enjoy. Especially not with a group like this.
So I look at her and kinda agree, leaving her to fill in the blanks. I’m not really in a mood at this point to explain my culture to her, and I don’t EVER talk politics (or religion) with people I don’t know VERY well. And even then, rarely. Matthew covered this in Book VI. And I figure that this is going to be one of THOSE conversations, since I don’t know this woman at all, except that my sweetie dotes on her.
What she said next surprised the hell out of me.
“I have this western series character I want to write, but he needs a gun and I don’t know anything, except that it needs to be something exotic. Something that can be its own character. Can you help?”
Huh? Oh. Well, sure.
Apparently, among these writers, the word has gotten around that Blaze knows guns. And, if you know writers, they love to find someone they consider an expert so they can pick their brain. For 95% of your readers, they don’t know any specific topic well enough to realize if you get some detail wrong. However, for the other 5%, they can spot any flaw and pick it apart. And will send you (not hate mail, exactly) but nastygrams explaining how much of an idiot you are for not realizing that the screw is one-third of the way back rather that out at the edge. Etc. Not that I’ve ever gotten that sort of critique…
So, I sat down last night and this morning and did a little research for her, looking for something weird and period, rather than just another Winchester carbine for her hero to sling around. My fiance laughed at me, and told me over lunch that several other people had said to ask me gun questions in the group.
I suppose there are worse things. After all, I had another conversation last night where I suggested that every firearm sold should, by law, be required to be one of three colors: Lime Green, Canary Yellow, or Hello-Kitty Pink. And with another writer, I made a couple of suggestions as to what she should consider for home security. (My own preference is a Brazilian Side By Side 12 gauge Coach Gun, but I’m not a nice person and I don’t figure anyone that breaks into my house has my best interests at heart. YMMV)
So this writer has this really cool gun to work with. I haven’t write westerns (yet), but I’m a gamer, and I had to kind of sit down and think about how this particular thing might work, and how it might get into his hands, and what you could do with it. Because it could be a character all by itself, as the best bits of gear are.
I mean, face it, the Millennium Falcon is just a spaceship. Right?