There’s a new trend among the sci-fi/fantasy writers crowd called: Redshirting.
It is based on the old Star Trek: The Original Series trope that whenever someone in a red uniform (Other than Scotty and Uhura, of course) ventured on an away team with Captain Kirk that Redshirt was a dead man. Every week it seemed like a Redshirt met his maker on the show.
So recently it has become a thing for a writer to call out for volunteers amongst his/her fellow writers. The process is simple. You volunteer your name to be used as the name of a character in an upcoming book. Said character is going to die, usually in a most embarrassingly silly fashion.
I myself have volunteered to be redshirted in upcoming books by Daniel Butler, Dawn Witzke (I think I live in this one though) and have been informed by Richard Weyland that I am an assassin who bumps off a major character in his novel.
I get to be the bad guy? Sweeeeeeeeeeeeettttttttt! And I think I survive this book too.
It’s all in good fun and I am looking forward to reading my first demise soon.
Redshirts: Old West Style
I found myself in need of nine names for my gang of bad guys in The Last Lonely Trail, co-written with Jim Christina. None of the nine were going to live to see the end of the book. So I decided to put out the call for an Old West-style Redshirting. Boy, did I not see the response that I got coming.
Within minutes I had my nine names. I also had a surplus of names – which I decided to use on other minor characters. I also found myself in a bit of a dilemma.
You see, several of my writer-compatriots are female. And they wanted in on the fun. Now, despite what Hollywood tries to imply – there really weren’t gangs of women roaming the West, robbing, looting and pillaging. Not to mention shooting the towns up and all of the other not-so-nice things that my nine bandits were going to be doing.
My solution was to make them saloon girls at various stops along the way. Then I really had a problem. My wife.
It isn’t what you think. She wanted in on the action too. And if you think I was about to make my wife a saloon girl – even a fictional one – well you’ve got another think coming my friends.
I made her the madame of the cathouse in Wellington, Kansas. At her request.
So, as you are reading the book, just know that some of the names are real folks assigned to fictional people. Some of the people that appear in the book are actual people who lived in the time period (Texas Ranger J.B. Armstrong, the El Paso County Sheriff in Colorado Springs and the Judge in Santa Fe, New Mexico just to name a few).
And for you fans of Jon Del Arroz, you’ll find him tending bar in Wellington, Kansas. Don’t worry, he lives to see the end – of this book. He’ll pop back up in my next western project though and fate may not smile so nicely on him this time.