For my local and national readers I invite you to be a fly on the wall for this article, because it is directed at my publisher and all the employees who are working very hard to make my new book Tail of the Dragon a reality. My editor did a phenomenal job in delivering back to me the manuscript on its second, and most extensive edit, and for putting this project on track for our summer 2012 release date. The amount of work she did in just three weeks is astounding as I reference the voluminous notes and extensive edits. I was hoping to get this manuscript back during the first week of 2012, but she pulled off the great feat of gaining almost 8 production days, which is tremendous and much appreciated.
I received contact from the art department over the weekend which is the purpose of this brain-storming post, to help pull into focus the marketing efforts at this stage. Even though the subject heading for this novel is Philosophy, the story itself is unmistakably about the philosophy of freedom—what is it, how do we get it—and how do we maintain it. It’s also about why some factions of human society do not want us to have it.
So in keeping my mind focused while writing Tail of the Dragon I thought often of the old TV show the Dukes of Hazzard and contemplated often why millions of Americans to this very day feel something special for the car in that old show, The General Lee, the 69 Dodge Charger made famous by the TV show. Even though the show has been over for over 20 years, thousands still show up to see it in person, and to see it jump through the air in live stunt shows like the one below.
Admittedly the subject matter of the Tail of the Dragon is quite serious at times, but I will admit that I watched this movie preview often while writing the story to keep my mind focused on how the book should look in the mind of the reader. I tend to be a serious person by nature, so thinking about the latest film version of The Dukes of Hazzard released in 2005, which wasn’t a successful undertaking by Hollywood standards, there were many things that the production did right, and this preview captures many of those aspects wonderfully and I think more represent the tone, pacing, and feel of what Tail of the Dragon is all about, than what ended up on-screen in that film remake.
As we have discussed in great detail, and what has come up in this latest, and final edit of the book is the need to get to the meat of the story quicker, because the plot essentially takes place during the entire car chase. All the thematic elements of this story require the car chase to play out in the plot development. As it is currently written, the characters in Tail of the Dragon have declared that they will do whatever it takes to obtain freedom, so in a society that has so many rules that limit that freedom, a fleeing from those rules is the prime ingredient, so we have successfully taken a car chase that was 50% of the story and took half the book to get there, and incorporated it into the end of the first third of the book at approximately the 30% mark. From that point much of the story including character development is revealed at speeds over 100 MPH through city streets, back yards, highways, dirt roads and countless roadblocks and police attempts to stop the car. In conceiving this very action oriented chase I again referred to this scene from the same Dukes of Hazzard movie of 2005. The action and pacing in this scene is very much how most of Tail of the Dragon will be presented in the mind of the reader. Our book does have a share of comedy, but much of the dialogue will be presented in a thriller type way. Much of it is about serious topics instead of the childish slap stick seen here between Knoxville and Scott. But the style and carefree rebellion of this scene is very much along the line of thinking in Tail of the Dragon.
I focused this story in the southern states of Tennessee and North Carolina because unlike other parts of the United States, the people in these southern regions have a love for freedom that I think many in America are looking to understand in themselves no matter where they live. When the Dukes of Hazzard film came out, many in the south were very upset with the production, because they felt the new movie isolated the old cast members who are still held in very high regard all over the south. I believe the reason was that there has been a tendency especially in modern Hollywood to poke fun at southern culture, and the Dukes of Hazzard as a film was trying to pay homage to a popular television show. The result was a film with great action scenes that played out like a Jackass film, and much of the heart of what made the Dukes of Hazzard popular was left out of the movie.
But the iconic role of the General Lee in the form of a car as a pursuit of modern freedom has extended from generation to generation in spite of the political attempt to paint southern culture as illiterate, racists, and backward in every fashion. I think it is evident that people all over America are beginning to see through this obvious political posturing that has spilled over into entertainment. But when the marketing for the Dukes of Hazzard movie put Jessica Simpson into a music video washing that famous car in a bikini, I can see that they had at least an idea of what America is hungry for in entertainment, and an understanding of the uniquely American philosophy of freedom.
My biggest complaint in that video is that the doors to the General Lee do not open. Simpson should have had to crawl through the window like drivers in NASCAR do, because that was one of the features of the General Lee car, that the Duke boys had to climb in and out of the car through the window because the doors were welded shut. But the rest of the video is dead on to what makes southern culture uniquely freedom loving. While the modern progressive viewpoint of this video would say that the video is sexist, that the Confederate Flag on top of the car is a reference to racism, and the video portrays an America where a bunch of beer drinking good ol’ boys are fighting for no apparent reason, the imagery is uniquely American and can be seen at events all over the country, particularly in Sturgis, South Dakota at the giant motorcycle rally that happens there every August.
But the General Lee and the southern breed of woman known as “Daisy Dukes” is a culture aspect that is stronger today than it was 30 years ago when the show first aired. I see that it’s even stronger now than it was ten years ago as seen in this next video.
There are millions of Americans and probably citizens of other countries such as Australia, Germany, and Great Britain who I believe are curious about our American idea of freedom and the right to express it, and southern culture in America is uniquely poised to provide that export of philosophy. So in our cover design and the next steps in the quest to bring Tail of the Dragon to the public by the second or third quarter of 2012, I see that it is our task to capture that freedom in a bottle to provide to the readers who seem hungrier than ever to understand that inner quest for personal liberty.
I am confident now that I’ve seen the second edit and it is now in my hands once again that we are uniquely positioned to capture on the pages of literature the greatest car chase in the history of imagination, in a race that begins at the White House and ends with a definition of what it means to be free.
For more notes on this topic please refer to this link:
SEE THE WORLD THROUGH HOFFMAN LENSES: