I, Wyatt Earp--Hell's Angel by Reb MacRath
Life was a ride on the wild side when I was just a Hell's Angel. But the morning I found myself as Wyatt Earp approaching the OK Corral....life grew confusing and scary.
While we gear up for the thirty-second gunfight, let me check on my Harley and try to explain.
It all began, you see, with a WIP that I thought would be a cakewalk. Easy-peasy. For the fifth entry in my Seattle BOP mystery series, I wanted something simple after mountains of research that I'd had to climb for the fourth novel. Bingo: I'd send the two lead characters, Chief and Ammy off on a two week vacation. And on the way, to make this a mystery, they'd solve a simple pro bono.
I couldn't stop thinking that a two-week motorcycle vacation would be perfect for the couple--though neither they nor I had ever set butt on a chopper. That didn't daunt me any more than my never having been to Arizona, where I thought to send them to deliver a pair of bikes while exploring the Southwest.
Day by day, my first hopes of a cakewalk flew further from sight. Research on Arizona wouldn't pose any real problem. I've had to research new settings for scores of my past books. But I'd begun to play with the idea of my young investigators having to pass themselves off as real bikers. They'd need to learn more about motorcycles and the lives of those who rode them.
I couldn't have found a much better teacher than the man in the top photo: the legendary rider/Hell's Angel/mechanic Sonny Barger. One of his books, Let's Ride became my bible quickly. It's filled with biking lore and the sort of arcane info any serious biker would know...ignorance of which could spell disaster for my leads. To improve my leads' riding skills, I invented a new riding school offering more than a simple crash course--modeling the instructor on Sonny Barger.
So okay, then, you'd think: I was really off and rolling now. But not so fast. The Muse insisted on Tombstone as the destination for those bikes.
What did I know about Tombstone? Less than I knew about bikes. But maybe if I learned enough I'd know why I had to get two cycles there and what that crazy gunfight has to do with the first half of my story.
It's been a hell of a ride. But Wyatt Earp's good company and and has the Hell's Angels' backs. Somehow, together, we'll bring it all home, though it has been one hell of a ride.
This is my report.