At first I was afraid.
No, seriously. When Paul Bishop first approached me about writing a Fight Card book I was a wee bit intimidated. My relationship with sports is a strange one. I am not generally a big fan of sporting events and hardly, if ever, watch them on TV. Oddly enough, I love sports-themed movies. Yeah. I know. It’s weird. Aside from a stock car racing idea I have, which I still plan to get to one of these days, the idea of writing sports fiction had not occurred to me.
I have a cursory knowledge of boxing at best. Meaning, I’ve seen the Rocky movies, Raging Bull, a few episodes of TV shows that had a boxing episode, and one or two pay-per-views I watched with some buddies. I did some research, of course, so hopefully my fight knowledge is sound.
So, with that said, when I agreed to write a Fight Card story, I approached it as a character piece about a boxer. Knowing the character is the most important thing for me and when the plot started to gel together in my mind, it was James Mason, the boy the bullies called Barefoot Bones who sold me on the idea of telling this story. I’m not sure where the name came from. As I was plotting out the ideas for this story, it was the week between Christmas and New Years Day. On one of the many drives to family events, it just popped into my head and it fit.
When working on stories, especially in a series or an anthology, I look for a different kind of story to tell. Setting Bones in the south and learning to fight as a way to survive excited me. At the same time I also had this image of him fighting in Korea, which how his story came to start and stop there. I tried to avoid M*A*S*H antics, but I have to admit, it was hard not to envision that compound when writing about the compound in this story.
For those who know my work, I spend a good deal of time writing period pulp stories so I’ve gotten used to spending time in the past. Although Barefoot Bones isn’t exactly pulp, it does share a few of the same ideals as a good pulp yarn. I tried to keep things moving, only to slow up when necessary, much like Bones’ life.
The above ramblings is very much what it’s like for me plotting a story. The ideas tumble out in waves and rarely, if ever, in sequential order. That would just be too easy, wouldn’t it?
I’d like to thank Paul and Mel for inviting me to play in the Fight Card sandbox and David Foster for the amazing cover. This was a lot of fun. Who knows, maybe we’ll do this again soon.
Bobby Nash, Bethlehem, GA