Author has written 9 stories for Emergency, Mannix, Mission: Impossible, and Peter Gunn.
Life, Death and Dizzy Gillespie took a long time for me to write. My target date to post the completed story was December 1; I posted it on December 2 about 10:30 PM. A day late but I had some continuity issues I needed to straighten out.
I've always wondered what drove Joe Mannix to become a private detective. It's not like a normal career path unless you become a police officer, retire, and then become a P.I. So this story is far from the Mannix canon. Some people reading this story will catch the references to Dragnet. Because of the time period I just had to throw those in there.
To the Peter Gunn fans, I know that Gunn operated out of an unknown city by a river. I hope you don't mind me taking the liberty of installing him and the gang in Los Angeles. It just made better sense for my story. I hope you'll like what I did with the characters.
I just returnedd to my BJ Thompson, Fan Fiction Author fan page on Facebook. I usually write about the locations used in the series that I've managed to find via the Internet. Since I live in Washington state, it's not like I can just drive over and and take a look at these places. I've found enough that I should have enough to last until January, 2015. Mosy over and take a look.
I appreciate my readers hanging in there waiting for me to get the next story written. Although what I just posted is not a story, I hope you will enjoy my take on A Visit from St. Nick, Mannix-style.
In fan fiction, when the author doesn't follow the canon of the series, that author's fictional story line is called an Alternate Universe (AU) of the series. Why would someone chose not to use the background of a series? Not because I feel that I know better than the original creators. It's because of consistency.
The series producers were very inconsistent about Mannix's military background. In one episode he was an infantry officer doing the “Inchon” maneuver and a few episodes later he was a pilot landing a jet in hurricane on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Gene Roddenberry, creator and producer of Star Trek, said that he never let continuity get in the way of a good story. I think it's more like it didn't occur to him or other producers of that era the fans of the show would pay that much attention to the details or even care. We know Star Trek and VCRs changed that.
So I made the conscious decision to use what's on the screen to try to expand (or explain) the character of Joe Mannix in my alternate universe of stories. But if I find a story continuity problem, I feel free to use it or lose it.
I own all four of the “Mannix” novelizations and the one novel. I find them very hard to read. I think I have the same problem any fan of a TV show has – I wonder if the person who wrote the book actually watched the show. The answer to that is probably not.
Michael Avallone wrote the Mannix novel. I remember him from some Man from U.N.C.L.E. books he wrote. I don't think he watched that show either.
After reading it, I suspect that it may have been a novelization of the original pilot script for the show. The next to the last scene in the novel is the last scene in the pilot episode, "The Name is Mannix." In the book Intertect is based in New York. Mannix is more James Bond-like. It was published in 1968 at the height of the spy craze.
The four novelizations were written by J.T. MacCargo. Peter Rabe, under that pseudonym, wrote “A Fine Day for Dying”, an eighth season episode, and “Round Trip to Nowhere”, a fourth season episode. For the other two, “The Faces of Murder” and “A Walk on the Blind Side”, it's not known who the actual author was.
Just a little trivia. During the series, Joe Mannix was knocked unconscious 55 times. I discovered that another famous fictional detective has him beat. According to the book, “Amateur Detectives”, Nancy Drew was knocked out over 100 times.
About fifteen years ago, I was talking with a friend of mine about old TV shows. I named “Mannix” as one of my favorite shows. She liked the show, too. Then she mentioned one of her first jobs was working for the Port of Los Angeles on Terminal Island. Every morning on her way to work she drove across the Schyler Heim Bridge. What has that got to do with “Mannix?” That's the bridge he runs across in the opening title sequence.
In the story I'm currently working on, Slippery When Wet, I solve the mystery of why he's running across the bridge and who's chasing him. I emailed her to find out whether he's running toward San Pedro or Terminal Island. She told me he's running toward Terminal Island. That put a big kink in my story; I needed him to run toward Wilmington.
One of luxuries (or pitfalls) of fiction is that everything doesn't need to be true to life. Her info changes the ending to my story, maybe.
I'd like acknowledge the people who've helped me in my fan fiction journey.
Colleen is my first reader. She's the first person I let read my stories. When I began, she was very good at pointing out inconsistencies, what didn't make sense and suggested ways to make my stories better. I value her input.
Next I want to thank the Magic Pen Critique Group for understanding that I wasn't interested in writing traditional fiction. They constantly encouraged me in my fan fiction writing. They helped with plots and ideas and questions about the character of Joe Mannix. Without them, I wouldn't have improved.
On my BJ Thompson, Fan Fiction Author Facebook page, I mentioned the fan fiction story idea, Slippery When Wet, in an earlier post. I've starting working on it. As I mentioned before, I solved two questions I had about the series – why would Joe Mannix even consider working for Intertect and who was chasing him across the bridge as seen in the title sequence. I realized the story also answered the question why Lew Wickersham seemed to be personally supervising Joe in his assignments at Intertect. He's the CEO of the company; doesn't he have something better to do than yell at Mannix all the time? I love it when I can come up with the answers to these questions.
I also try to come up with the appropriate symbolism for the story. It takes place in the spring, a time of renewal. The story starts and ends on a bridge, a symbol of transition. I know most people don't think of these things and probably wouldn't notice unless I pointed it out to them. Finding the symbolism in the story is something I learned to do from when I went to graphic design school. A lot of things are done in design not to hit you in the face with it, but to use the symbolism as an unconscious way to tie the elements of the design (story) together. I can't always do this in my stories, but when I can I relish the story even more.
Also I found a theme song for this story – Skyfall from the latest James Bond movie. I have no idea why, but it works. If I'm lucky I should have this story finished by April.
The first draft of The Gift of Christmas was written in December, 2011. I came up with the idea about two weeks before Christmas. I knew I didn't have time to get it finished before Christmas and I didn't want to post it online afterward. I decided the best thing I could do was to shelve it until August, 2012.
The episode the story is based on, Return to Summer Grove, features my second most favorite scene of the series – Joe trying to talk to his father after not seeing him for ten years. Just goes to show that he had the same problems with his parents the rest of us had.
The story takes place the Christmas after that episode which in the Mannix time frame makes it December, 1969.
I'm also starting a Facebook page for my fan fiction. I would like to connect more with my readers, especially my international readers. You are welcome to review my fan fiction there and to ask me about my stories. Search for BJ Thompson, Fan Fiction Author.
I've just revised Under Fire. Most of my revisions are cosmetic, but there are a couple of sections I rewrote. The plot of the story doesn't change, so there's no reason to reread the story, but if you want to . . .
In the coming months, I'll be taking a look at some of my other stories. If I feel it's necessary, I'll revise those, too. Since I started about three years ago, I've improved my writing.
When I was a kid in the seventies watching a lot of detective/police/lawyer shows, I could never understand that if these shows all took place in Los Angeles, why characters' paths never crossed. So in my imagination I was always thinking of stories where the characters crossed over to another series or what would happen if these characters were working on the same case.
Fast forward to now. My first crossover story was written for a friend who loves Emergency! I have several other ideas brewing in my brain. So stayed tuned to the Mannix Crossover Channel. It could get very interesting.