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"Safe Negro Travel Guide"

The piece I wrote for the Richard Hugo House Literary series, "Safe Negro Travel Guide," has been posted on the Hugo House website, here. (Update: It's no longer on the Hugo House site, but it is available on my own website, here.)

Some background for the curious:

A while ago I was invited to come up with some ideas for possible TV series. One of the treatments I wrote was for an X-Files/Supernatural-style show called Lovecraft Country, about a black travel writer and pulp-fiction geek named Atticus Turner who drives around Jim Crow-era America doing research for a magazine called the Safe Negro Travel Guide. I knew it was a real longshot to get produced -- it's a period piece with a largely non-white cast -- but it seemed like a cool idea and I figured I could always turn it into a book.

For the Hugo House series, whose theme was "Road Trip," I decided to write a short-story prequel to this as-yet nonexistent TV show/novel. At the reading I described it as a "kind of" prequel, since the supernatural elements are metaphorical rather than literal, but you can get an idea from this how the longer story would work.

Although the latest Hugo House newsletter calls the story "chillingly relevant," I wasn't thinking of current events when I wrote it. It just seemed like an interesting character and setting with a different set of dramatic challenges than I'd worked with before.

Guides such as the one in the story really did exist; I first read about them in historian James W. Loewen's book Sundown Towns. You can download a PDF of the 1949 Negro Motorist Green Book here.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 11th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
I think a book on the subjects you describe would always be "chillingly relevant," because it's such a forgotten part of our history.

And as Kalmn says, I'd buy it.

I'd even read it. ;>

(I'm sure she would too.)

Edited at 2008-11-11 09:02 pm (UTC)
Nov. 11th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
That is a wicked cool premise.
Nov. 12th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
still relevant
[info]holyoutlaw wrote:
Nov. 11th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
I think a book on the subjects you describe would always be "chillingly relevant," because it's such a forgotten part of our history.

Hi, no, not forgotten. As one half of an inter-racial couple who lives in the south, I can tell you we still need to check out where we travel. And it's always weird. But, surprisingly not always in the areas you think. Though, gratefully not "sundown town" severe we hope.

Also, Mr. Ruff - I love your novels, but the first one I read - Sewer, Gas & Electric was one of the more terrifying novels I have read in my adult life. Because of the premise. I kept having to put it down. And then pick it back up. It was great - but very scary.

just regular monkey

Nov. 12th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
So... What are the odds on the TV show? I think it would make outstanding television and the current mainstream TV landscape is rich for pseudo-supernatural, quasi-anthology, chillingly-relevant material. You can pitch it as X-Files meets O Brother Where Art Thou.
Nov. 12th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
That was cool
Wheter this becomes a TV show or not - you should definitely write more! The whole feeling of the story is really cool. Maybe you could write a book consisting of short stories only vaguely connected that take place during Victor's tour (that would be a nice experiment on the genre of short stories... like an episodic movie). Or just, you know, a, like, novel.
Nov. 17th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC)
Now that is horror that can affect me. Who needs monsters when we have normal, god-fearing humans?

And that's a real shame about the TV show. I really want to inhale a season pr two of it on DVD now.
Dec. 9th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
What powers does Victor have?
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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