Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dead Wrestlers

Since sometime in 2011 I've been writing and editing a series of novels called Dead Wrestlers. The idea was initially going to be one novel. Then it morphed into three.

Why has it taken so long? Well, I published a collection of short stories during this time. I have a 9-5 job like a ham-and-egger and humanoid (RIP Bobby "the Brain" Heenan) and I have two children.

Anyway, the only reason I'm posting this is to establish that these are my novels. No one reads this blog. Very few ever have. In fact, I've deleted most of the posts.

Here is something I wrote about these novels a while back:

In 2007 I wrote a three-part article called “Dead Wrestlers Society” for a web site that no longer exists. It was well-received and the editor of the site told me I should consider making the article into a book. I entertained the idea and initially discarded it, thinking I couldn’t do an entire non-fiction book about professional wrestlers who have died justice.

I continued writing other things – essays, short stories, poems, and even published two poetry chapbooks in 2008 and 2011. I had written a couple dozen short stories, my dream being to publish a collection of them, which I eventually did in November 2012. With this accomplished I began thinking about writing a novel. I don’t remember exactly how the idea entered my head, but the thought of adapting “Dead Wrestlers Society” into a novel rather than writing a non-fiction book interested me greatly.

The questions were who would be the main characters and what would the story be. I knew I wanted the main character to be somewhat based on myself, and that he should have friends with characteristics of mine and others I knew. What I also wanted was for the wrestlers themselves to be characters. I’d recently read I,Fatty by Jerry Stahl and Wintering by Kate Moses, novels about the lives of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Sylvia Plath, respectively. So I knew an author could write about the lives of real people if they were deceased.

But how could I write about all the wrestlers I wanted to? How could I write about Gino Hernandez, Eddie Gilbert and Owen Hart when they never wrestled each other.

Then it hit me. I love ghost stories. Not scary ghost stories, but stories in which ghosts appear in normal, everyday life, like Thorne Smith’s Topper or Eric Idle’s short-lived sitcom Nearly Departed, which no one probably ever saw but me.

So I had a handful of main characters and some ghosts. Now I needed a story. I returned to my original article, which, being published in 2007, focused on Chris Benoit. I knew Benoit had a lot of friends in the wrestling business who had passed away. What if they wanted the main character to stop the Benoit tragedy from happening? What if that was the motivation of the ghosts from the get go - to save every wrestler from entering an early grave?

And what if only the main character can see these ghosts? Maybe it all started with an incident from his past, perhaps even his childhood. I thought of two instances from my own childhood, both of which I used in the first chapter of Book One. Yes, I once piledrove my own sister. She didn’t die. She claimed to have blacked out, but she was fine. Then there was the time my siblings and their friends ganged up on me in a wrestling match. I thought combining these two separate occurrences made perfect sense.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing this is to tell you that Dead Wrestlers is obviously a work of fiction. All living characters – with the exception of wrestlers who eventually die, plus a handful of famous, deceased non-wrestlers – are completely made up. Some have characteristics of people I know, but they are fictional. This includes Mark’s family – his parents, Harry and Candace; his brother Al; and his sister Nikki. All made up. In fact, in my mind as I read it Candace is portrayed by a well-known sitcom mom. These characters are in no way meant to represent my actual family. The same goes for other characters close to main character Mark Chapman. His cousins, roommates and significant others are entirely fictional.

The ghosts, the wrestlers, on the other hand, were real, actual people. However, I look at them as characters in a pro wrestling storyline. What I mean by this is there are instances in these books in which it may appear that I’m making judgments about a particular wrestler when what I’m actually doing is just trying to further the story. Two cases in point occur in the first book. The circumstances surrounding the deaths of Gino Hernandez and David Von Erich have been talked about for years. In each case, particularly that of David, I chose one scenario over the other because it worked for the story, not because that’s what I believe happened.

There are several wrestlers - including Terry Jones and Miguel Pena, who are introduced in Book Two - that are fictional. If a wrestler doesn't die by the time the third book ends, he or she is made up.

This gives you a general idea. I'm currently making final edits; asking people I know, either in real life or on social media, to give Book One a read. I have a couple of Twitter friends who read an earlier version of Book One and loved it. I've asked one of them to read Book Two once I feel it's ready. Absolutely no one has read Book Two or Three as of this post. So I need to fine-tooth comb it.

Anyway, that's it for now, phantom person who somehow came upon this blog.

Michael Frissore, author of Dead Wrestlers
March 20, 2018

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