Michael Stephen Fuchs – whose rather good novels I have reviewed for Pulp.net and on this blog – has written an article for the manfully-named www.shotsmag.co.uk. He writes about the difference between British and American authors in their treatment of guns. In summary, the Brits are less expert.
I’ve made my own, modest contribution to this trend by bungling a description of firearms not once but several times in the original publication of Déjà vu. I described the cylinder of a revolver as the barrel (hey, it’s somewhat barrel-like!) and was very loose in my treatment of the term ‘firing pin’. Fortunately, an American reader pointed this out – in a genuinely kind manner – and I’ve put it straight for subsequent versions of the book.
This cultural difference also results in some very palpable differences between writing about guns and gunplay by British authors versus American authors. With American crime and action writers – if you know what to listen for, at any rate – it’s easy to get a sense that they are writing from first-hand experience. With Brits, it’s equivalently easy to get a sense they are writing straight from research. This is because, generally, at some point in the book, the British writer will let slip one small but enormously glaring boner about the makeup or operations of firearms. When this happens, it’s like getting a brief glimpse around the edge of the cardboard building facade in a Hollywood set: nothing else has changed, all the other details are still right. But, suddenly, the whole thing just looks irretrievably fake.
I’ll get m’coat.
Hell, I am busting to fire a projectile weapon. I want to know how much it stings one’s palm; what it smells like; how loud it is; does it make that PEEEEOW(OW)(ow) sound liberally employed on the foley track for The Professionals? I also wouldn’t mind hitting something, as long as it’s made of clay.
I wonder if Michael has any in his cupboard.