Friday, September 18, 2009

Hatching with Hitchcock

Growing up I was a huge black and white TV freak. Well, to be brutally honest, I owned a black and white television and didn't realize that most of what I watched took best advantage of the screen type I was stuck with. Go ahead, blame being a quasi-impoverished Appalachian American, I do...LOL! It took me until I was sixteen and my driver's license exam to discover I was essentially color blind in one eye, but by then I was smitten by the black and white movie. Mostly, by the films and characters created by one Lord Alfred Hitchcock.

Maybe that was part of the reason I took up the calling to become an engineering student. For the longest time I told folks it was because my father teased me and my brother as children, "there they are - my children - the rocket scientist and the brain surgeon." Since he always referred to me first, I picked the first career. However, I wanted to be a writer, a crafter of stories and a creator of unforgettable characters played by charismatic leads such as Carey Grant. Hitchcock did it, but he began his career in the sciences, so why couldn't I?

A plot was born! I went to college and took aerospace engineering alongside Elizabethan poetry and caused not a few folks to scratch their heads in confusion when I maintained excellent grades. But my favorite professor Mrs McCoy (yes, that really was her name) of Hofstra University proved to me that writing was my first love. She dragged me to her office, made me sit at her word processor, and type stories from my past then an odd poem or bit of fiction. After a few weeks of hit-or-miss crap, words started to flow. I found myself filling notebooks with stories when I should have been taking notes in chemistry and physics.

I did end up getting my engineering degrees - not in aerospace. I lacked the drive to finish that push. But I did finish and I did love it. At first. I found out rather quickly I don't possess the right mentality for engineering, I obsess on safety issues to the point of paranoia. The guilty man in Poe's Telltale Heart? He had nothing on me. I lost sleep, missed meals and developed before and after ulcers. In desperation for something, anything, new I responded to an ad in the local paper for a freelance news reporter, and my life was saved. Infrastructure news.

Some years later when flocculation beds became so interestingly rendered in an article that an octogenarian called to compliment me, an editor rethought where my talents should be used, and I was reassigned. It marked what I have come to think of as the beginning of the end of my time on the news desk. I had a flair for writing death and dealing with the dying, and after a few years it broke something inside.

This something comes out in the Blood and Honey series, including Flesh, and in the characters you meet there...


Bethany said...

Excellent post, Melissa! Welcome!

Melissa said...

thanks Bethany :)