The Next Big Thing — What I’m Working On Now

There’s apparently an author meme infecting the Internet wherein you’re supposed to talk about what you’re currently working on, and link to others doing the same.  I hate this meme. I hate talking about what I’m working on.  Actually, I also hate talking about stuff I’ve already worked on.  But if I didn’t do that, this blog would be empty except for posts about Mitt Romney.  So here goes.  For a much better example of how to do this, check out Jeff Carver’s site.  If you’re participating in the meme, feel free to leave a link in comments.

1) What is the title of your next book?

I dunno.  And if I told you, I would probably be wrong.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I had an image.  I’ve written a few pages of notes about the novel, and that image is the first sentence in the notes.  That first sentence is now crossed out.  So I wonder if this tells us something.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It is your standard post-apocalypse private eye novel, with a main character who is deeply interested in nineteenth-century British poetry.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The idea that there would be a movie rendition of this book is so ridiculous that I won’t even contemplate it.  Could you please come up with better questions?

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Walter Sands investigates the disappearance of the charismatic leader of a local church; as usual, he fails, and he succeeds, and he wonders what life is all about.  (This is the third in a series.)

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’m about fifteen percent into the first draft.  Early days.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

See the response to question 3.  If there are other books in this “genre,” I’m not aware of them.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have been thinking a lot about religion.  So I started to wonder about religious beliefs in the world I had created for Dover Beach.  I said a little about this in its sequel, The Distance Beacons.  I decided I had something more to say.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think there will be a boat ride!  And maybe, if you’re good, a visit to New York City!  Unfortunately, Manhattan will have a rat problem.  Also, there will be some references to nineteenth-century British poetry.  If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will.

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I really shouldn’t have killed that guy

The print edition of today’s Boston Globe tells me something I hadn’t known: Tolkien had to retroactively change The Hobbit to make it fit with the plot he subsequently created for The Lord of the Rings:

When Tolkien first wrote “The Hobbit,” he didn’t know Gollum’s “birthday present” would take on such significance in his sequel.  He had to fix future editions of “The Hobbit” to better match the story arc.

So, I’m currently at work at a novel set in the world of Dover Beach and The Distance Beacons.  Writing about a world you’ve already invented, with some of the same characters you’ve already invented, certainly makes things easier for an author in many ways: you’re earning a return on your creative investment.  On the other hand, you do occasionally find yourself hemmed in by the choices you’ve already made.

In particular, I find myself missing a character I killed off in Dover Beach. I realize now that this was a somewhat gratuitous act of violence; the novel would not have been harmed if I had let the poor guy live.  But I was younger then and thought I knew what I was doing.  And now . . . now I can’t imagine the novel without him dead at the end of it.  So there will be no Tolkienesque retroactive fiddling.  What’s done is done.  Life, and art, will have to go on without him.