Both e-novels I published, “Loonies in the Dugout” and “Loonies in Hollywood” were based on true stories. I chose this path because it is the closest I could get to time travel, something I would love to do. I want to find out if Cleopatra was really that desirable, I want to see Walter Johnson pitch, I want to see if that Man really came out of the tomb after three days. I want to see everything I can think of. So blending fictional characters and historical people allows me to escape into another time.
But now the e-novel I am working on has taken on a character twist. The setting is 1927, and though the story is not based on true events as my other two books, I am using historical people such as Clara Bow, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, and other Hollywood luminaries in a murder mystery. The twist is that I ran across a fictional character created by F. Scott Fitzgerald named Pat Hobby.
There are seventeen Pat Hobby short stories. Fitzgerald published them in Esquire magazine in 1940 and 1941. Hobby was a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who never read books, always had an angle, and drank too much. He was a famed writer during the silent days, good on structure, but not with dialogue.
This echoed what I was writing, as my hero, a writer for Paramount, was making the transition to talking picture when some Hollywood murders are taking place and he is unsure if he can write dialogue. Like Pat he is having an anxiety crisis about writing.
Pat seemed to fit in as he could sense his own troubled future and he and Chet could try to work on a script together-or at least try- and Pat could play a role in helping solve the mysteries. Perhaps. His fictional role is unclear at present though he and Chet had a scene about a script.
Anyway it raises the question of ‘borrowing’ another writers character as well as copyright questions. I could disguise the characters name I suppose, Matt Hobby comes to mind, but using the real name to me honors Fitzgerald. F. Scott is dead, probably would like the reference, but would Esquire?
If any writer out there has run into something similar I hope you did not steal. I will not steal another’s idea or character. I am hoping I can use Pat, but I will check with Esquire. There must be honor among writers.