Q – Why call the blog “I’m writing a book …”?
A – Because I’ve been “writing a book” since I was about 12. Started writing a great novel it the eighth grade, following a break-out short story, “The Fleas,” in fifth grade. (Had some distractions between fifth and eighth grade: moving to a new town, then back to the old town; puberty; learning to play alto sax; memorizing the starting rosters for every Major League Baseball team; reading Encylopedia “A”.)
Q – Writing a book? In the eighth grade?
A – Yeah, it was pretty lame. “When There’s Nothing Left to Live For.” Kind of “My Side of the Mountain” meets “Silent Spring.” Never finished – which has become a theme. The next book, a non-fiction memoir of my young life, was tentatively titled “Second Hour Biology” and was a running journal of every single day of my high school career. The hundreds of pages eventually was called “My Senior Drear.” Finished it, I suppose, but not really publishable. I still have it.
Q – What have you written since high school? Class of 1981, right?
A – Written since high school? Oh, something like 30,000 news, sports and feature articles (counting obituaries), ranging from news briefs to 3,000 word features. And I’ve started four more novels. (And, yeah, Class of ’81, Belle High School, little town of about 1,100 people in Maries County, 75 miles south of Columbia, Mo.)
Q – What happened to those novels?
A – “Chasing the Devil” was originally called “Dog Days of Summer,” started around 1988 and based on the real-life experience of stumbling onto a dog fighting training facility in rural Gasconade County. “Devil” has gone through a few iterations. Almost finished. It was my “winner” for 2011 National Novel Writing Month.
Q – Wait, how can you “win” a novel writing event but not finish the novel?
A – NaNoWriMo requires 50,000 words of writing. “Chasing the Devil” is sitting at about 70,000 words. Probably needs about 10,000 more to finish telling the story.
Q – So why not finish it already?
A – Patience, patience. “Devil” is the middle piece of an unfinished trilogy. My 2010 NaNo winner was “Gone,” the third part of the trilogy. My 2012 NaNo winner was “Dixieland,” the first part of the trilogy. “Dixieland” is a 1945-era story set in Natchez, Miss., “Devil” takes place in my fictional town of Silverdale, Kentucky, circa 1988, and “Gone” is a present-day mystery, set in a metro area near Silverdale. The three stories span a period of about 70 years. None of those are finished.
Q – But you mentioned fourth novel?
A – My current work, “Shackles,” is as close to finished as anything I’ve written. That’s all I’ll say for now. I’m worried that a finished novel will be anti-climactic to those who have heard me say for almost 40 years, “I’ve writing a book.” “Shackles” is historical fiction, a re-telling of Acts Chapter 16, the story of Paul and Silas and the Philippian jailer.
Q – When will you actually finish any of those sagas?
A – Why don’t you quit asking me questions and let me get to work?