Guest Post: David Burnsworth

Brack Pelton, my protagonist, is an amateur sleuth who lives on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina. He is a conglomeration of many influences I’ve had in my life. And I’d be lying if I said it was all books.

The truth is I watched quite a bit of TV growing up. Saturday mornings in the late seventies and early eighties were spent watching cartoons. The first evening show I remember vividly was the Dukes of Hazard. Being a BurningHeatFrontcar buff, and only six at the time, the General Lee flying through the air interested me far more than Daisy. And the first TV movie I saw that made an impact was Smokey and the Bandit. Again, something about cars driving fast had my attention like nothing else.

That affection for things with motors and four wheels got me to watch a lot of shows that were not necessarily car shows. Simon and Simon comes to mind. They drove a cool Ram pickup (my protagonist does in book 2) and convertible Chevys. As most of you know, it was also a P.I. show so I was exposed to all sorts of investigations. Same with Magnum, P.I. He tooled around Hawaii in a Ferrari (Brack steals one, also in book 2) plying his trade. Knight Rider and the A-Team had cool cars but not a lot of substance.

The eighties version of Mike Hammer had Stacey Keach driving through New York City in a run down first-generation Mustang coupe. And that introduced me to Mickey Spillane. Another show and another Mustang, Spencer for Hire, got me reading Robert B. Parker books. And that opened up the world of the detective series.

I couldn’t very well talk about shows with cool cars and not bring up James Bond. True, it wasn’t a TV series, but there were so many James Bond-a-thons when I was growing up that it might as well have been. And they introduced me to Ian Fleming. I found that I liked the books better than the flicks. Does that sound familiar?

Miami Vice was another influence. The imagery alone was fodder for the imagination. Of course it would have to be. After the first two seasons, plot took a backseat to guest celebrities and great music.

And then about this time, I entered high school. And TV shows were replaced with video rentals and sleeping in Saturday mornings. So what does all this have to do with writing? Well, seeing images on the screen helps me visualize scenes when I write today. Some of it may be a mish-mash of all the different shows and characters I viewed over the years. I still enjoy TV today, when I get the chance to watch it. And my favorite shows are the ones based on books like Jesse Stone and Bosch. So I guess I haven’t changed all that much in forty plus years. Now that is scary!

***

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Southern Heat is his first mystery and the sequel, Burning Heat, debuted in January. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

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14 thoughts on “Guest Post: David Burnsworth”

  1. Reading this was like going on a high-speed tour of shows and films I remember, too, from back in the day. So fun! I did think Kit from Knight Rider pretty spectacular…maybe because it talked (or am I remembering that wrong?). But my all-time favorite was the Batmobile (different genre, though crime-fighter, anyway). Very enjoyable post, David! Thanks for visiting!

  2. Cynthia, KITT talked. Voiced by the esteemed William Daniels.

    David, thanks for visiting. I remember a lot of these shows quite fondly. You are right about some of the plots, but the shows were fun! I put your books on my TBR pile when you visited Jungle Reds. Unfortunately, I haven’t made much of a dent in the pile (and I promised myself I couldn’t buy new books until I read all the ones I brought back from Bouchercon – one more to go!).

  3. Welcome, David! I also love watching TV shows for writing inspiration–they help with visualization, are fast paced, and usually have really good tension that I enjoy dissecting. Fun post! 🙂

  4. My husband loves Bosch! One of my favorite shows is Veronica Mars and the cars are very symbolic in that show. Interesting post — thanks for sharing!

  5. Welcome David! This is my Magnum PI story: I took my girls to Honolulu when they were 6 and 4. We’re standing on the corner on Waikiki waiting for the light to change so we can walk across the street to the zoo. I’m watching the light, not looking at the traffic. Cars go by and then one kid says “Isn’t that the guy on TV in the red car? The guy with the mustache?” That was almost 30 years ago and I’m still sad.

  6. Thanks for the memories, David! Some of those shows were pretty awesome, but the cars were definitely the standouts. Keenan, really! I would have dissolved into a pile of drool!

  7. Very interesting, how the cars pulled you into mystery! I love your setting, too, and am looking forward to checking out your books.

  8. I liked Matt Houston’s car (?Cadillac) with the horns on it from the early seasons of the show. I was disappointed when he switched to a just-like-every-other-flashy-detective red convertible. Yes, I was right there with you watching way too much TV in the 8os.

  9. So cars were your gateway drug to mysteries? Hmmm. That says a lot about you. I was always a sucker for PI shows too. Guess we have that in common. I think I feel in love with mysteries watching The Rockford Files.

  10. I do know how to spell, but I forgot to proof. I meant to say I FELL in love with mysteries watching The Rockford Files.

  11. Thanks for all the comments! I forgot about Matt Houston. I used to watch that show as well. It would have been cool to see Selleck in the Ferrari in real life. I still haven’t made it to Hawaii – bucket list item!

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