Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dan Swagger Project

Charles E, Walker - Writer, Inventor, Tough Guy, & my Dad
circa 1969
A few years ago I started a "Choose Your Own Adventure" writing project in honor of my father via a Yahoo Group. I'd post short snippets of a story loosely based on an unpublished novel my Father wrote a long time ago, and others (mostly friends and family members) would vote on a decision tree as to what Dan Swagger (the main character from my Father's book) would do next. I thought I'd rekindle that writing project, only this time, I would just progress the story with a few posts a week and see where it takes us.

Let me take a moment to give you some background information on my Father why I chose to base this project on his character Dan Swagger. For those who may not know, my Father passed away in 2006 at the age of 74 from complications with Leukemia. Some time during the early 1980's my Father wrote a book - which was a big accomplishment for a man born in the heart of the Great Depression (1932) with only a 7th grade education. My Mother and Father went to school in the same "one room" schoolhouse, which is still standing today.

When my Father was 2 years old, his mother died from a simple infection, something easily cured today with a dose of antibiotics which wasn't available in those days. The times being as they were, with no mother or money to help care for his children, my grandfather was forced to send all five of his children to live with other family members and friends - including giving up his new born baby up for adoption. I can't even imagine how hard that must have been for my grandfather, but back then you did what you had to do or you just didn't survive. My Father was sent to live with his hateful and abusive uncle, who forced him to work in the fields as a child from sunup to sundown, day in and day out, and beat him on a daily basis.

Eventually he ran away, which turned out to be a long road filled with more hardship and hard life lessons learned.

Despite all these obstacles, which in truth wasn't all that uncommon back in those days, my Father turned out to be a fine loving man who had a quick wit and would go out of his way to make every person he met laugh. When he was in his fifties he taught himself how to program a computer. Shamefully he was much better at it then me, and I had grown up around computers nearly all my life. This was the first time he had ever even seen a computer. Everyday I would come home from school and he would show me some new program he had written on the computer, and it amazed me how he did some of things he did, but then again if you ever met my father, you would already know that he was an unusual man.

My Father's book never got published despite my sister's best efforts. In truth it needs a fair amount of polishing. The heart of the book is there, and it's a great story with some great characters (namely the main character - Dan Swagger), but it needs to be refined and fleshed out. Nevertheless, I was very proud of him for taking on such a daunting task and never giving up on his dream. I've since taken his typed up manuscript and transcribed it to the computer, in the hopes of one day fulfilling my Father's dream.

The book he wrote was called Murder Incomplete, and was centered on a man named Dan Swagger, a private detective in the Chicago area. So tipping my fedora hat to my Father, and in homage to him, I've decided to base this writing project around his character, Dan Swagger.

With that I give you, [Death Only Knocks Once - Part 1]

Michael A. Walker
Defying Procrastination

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