Saturday, December 14, 2013

What's Next?

With Exile on Amazon, it's time to think of which novel to publish next. I believe I will go with City Of The Dead. This book will come as a change of pace for those who have read Heroes, Smoke, and Exile. I don't want to say too much more about it. But I do believe readers will find that City Of The Dead is quite different from what I have published so far.  I would not be surprised to learn that a lot readers think this is their favorite of my books.  I will warn you, well in advance, to read very carefully.  There is a lot going on in City Of The Dead. I will try to get this novel out in the Spring of 2014. Until then, enjoy Heroes, Smoke, and Exile.  Spread the word to anyone who has not yet read them.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Back In The Motor City And Wondering Why

I find myself back in Michigan. I came here for a surprise birthday party. I decided to stay through Thanksgiving.  As I drive around the Detroit area, I realize how little of I ever captured in my novels. I don't have that many scenes set in winter. Yet winter, desolate and unforgiving, seems to be the dominant season here.  The clouds hover at about a hundred feet off the ground. The trees are barren of all leaves. The small houses set back from the broken roads look as if they are trying to turn away from the wind. Everyone here hurries from one indoor place to another. I wondered to myself, as I have so often before: why does anyone live here? I know that sounds superior and is surely insulting. But I pose the question sincerely: why does anyone live here? If the US had been discovered from the West Coast, everything east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon line would be a vast, empty nature reserve. People would leave California and Arizona and New Mexico to go to New York to hunt or fish or just take pictures. The residents of the sprawling cities of Oregon and Washington and Nevada would marvel at how rugged the landscape is in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The entire northeast of the US would be like Wyoming is now.  Surely, the trends cannot be stopped. We all originated in Africa and we yearn to live in the Sun. The Midwest is fading away as a place to live and work.  Demography is destiny, as they always say.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Big Books Are Back?

Having just published Exile, I was interested to read in a couple of places that long novels are back in vogue.  Kirsty Gunn in the Guardian pointed out that some very long novels are getting very positive buzz.

Someone named Garth Risk Hallberg just netted two million dollars in an auction of his manuscript. Apparently, his book is 900 pages long.  I note with some interest that this books sounds sort of familiar to me.  It is called City On Fire. This, naturally, brings to mind my own book, Smoke.  The description I have of City on Fire includes the question: what exactly is going on behind the locked steel doors of a derelict townhouse? That sure sounds a lot like one of the main issues in Exile: what exactly is going on at Phlogiston Fabricating? Congratulations to Mr. Hallberg for his great financial success. If he can spark interest in really long novels, so much the better.

My sense of the future of novels is that no one is going to read them. The few novels that do get read are likely to be very short. I think within a decade, a novel will need only comprise about 25-30,000 words.  Anything longer than that will be called an epic.

I don't see how a generation raised on Twitter and SMS and email and all the rest will ever be able to concentrate long enough to read a 300,000+ word book. It just won't happen. Already, we see evidence that the brain itself is changing in response to non-stop bursts of very brief stimulation.  This will necessarily mean that all forms of communication are going to get shorter. TV sitcoms will be 5-7 minutes long. A movie will be no more than 60 minutes. Long-reads in journals will comprise no more than a few hundred words.

So, as the novel flickers into obscurity, lets hope for a brief renaissance that will see books like Exile and City on Fire have their moment, as it were, in the sun.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Low Winter Sun

I sat down to watch Low Winter Sun recently. I had high hopes for the show. I had seen the original version. That one was set in Edinburgh, Scotland. I thought that the original was one of the better shows I had seen. It was filled with creative plot twists that kept me wondering. So, when AMC broadcast their version, I thought that it might be good. It's not. In fact, it's terrible. I think the problem is that the Scottish version was two episodes, totaling about three and a half hours. The AMC version is ten episodes, each forty-five minutes long. Clearly, the AMC version was going to need some filler. The writers kept the original story but grafted on an absurd companion tale. This subplot involved some would-be gangsters stealing cocaine from a crime boss and blah, blah, blah. You've seen this a million times. When you take a tight, three-hour story and try to make it open-ended, the quality has to suffer. That's what happened here.

What most intrigued me, I think, about the new Low Winter Sun, was that it was set in Detroit. It featured homicide detectives. That sounds pretty familiar to me. I wanted to see how the director would depict the City as well as the detectives. I think they were pretty good about showing the decrepit Detroit Police Headquarters. They got the “ruin porn” down, as well. But that's not complicated. All they had to do was stop anywhere in the City and get some B Roll footage. Detroit did all the hard work. With a smart phone, you could go to Detroit and shoot evocative images of decay. One thing that Low Winter Sun really missed on was the race issue. I presume they wanted a mostly-white cast for ratings purposes. But, this seems at odds with reality. That said, race is very hard to deal with. I, myself, avoided it almost entirely.

I could not help thinking what Heroes or Smoke would look like on film. It might bear some resemblance to what the new Low Winter Sun looks like. But I would hope that a film version would get a lot more of the details right. I would be delighted if Heroes and Smoke and Exile (and the others I have yet to publish) made it onto the big screen. The actors in Low Winter Sun, especially Mark Strong, could do the project nicely. I see Strong as Christopher Garvin more than George Hofmann.

If you have not yet seen the AMC version of Low Winter Sun, do yourself a favor and skip it. Seek out the original. That is a superb story well told.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Exile Is Available Now on Amazon

As of this morning, Exile is now available on Amazon. I hope that people will enjoy reading it. Exile is a long book, so be prepared. That said, I think that it is worth the time it takes to read it. Though they are not a trilogy per se, Heroes, Smoke, and Exile are part of the same story arc. Once people have finished Exile, I think they will see how some of the themes and ideas from Heroes and Smoke play out. I believe that a reader cannot have a full appreciation for any of the three novels without having read them all. The careful reader will see how certain details in Exile repeat and amplify what has gone on in Heroes and Smoke.

Exile brings to a close the story of the two detectives, George Hofmann and Christopher Garvin. I hope that upon finishing Exile, the readers will feel as though they know these two men. I certainly learned about and from them as the stories went on. Hofmann, in particular, changes over time. He is still stoic in the face of chaos. But the anger slips away, I think, as Hofmann comes to realize how little he can control. See what you think of Hofmann at the end of Exile as compared to when you first met him in Heroes. Are Hofmann and Garvin heroes? Were they ever? What did they learn on their quest?

As for Exile, I welcome your thoughts on the book. Take the time to tell me what you think was going on at Phlogiston Fabricating. What is your theory about the two Candices? Who, precisely, is an exile? And from what? Write to let me know what you think Exile says about the creative process and its limitations.

I hope you will enjoy Exile. Take your time and do not be surprised if you need to read it more than once.

I look forward to hearing from you.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Exile Is Coming

I have sent Exile out to the proofreader. Teddi Black is working on the cover design.  I believe I will be able to publish Exile on Amazon sometime in October, 2013.  Though they are not a formal trilogy, Heroes, Smoke, and Exile do feature a lot of the same characters.  In a sense, they are three parts of the same narrative. You will see how I resolve some of the issues from Heroes and Smoke in Exile. I think it makes the most sense to read these three books in order.  Until you finish Exile, you won't fully understand Heroes or Smoke.  Keep watching Amazon and checking back here. I will post when Exile is available for download.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A New Website

So, a friend told me about Google sites. I went there and put together a website that is rather limited.  I will need to make it more user-friendly and informative. But, at least it is up.

Swing by if you like.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Detroit Goes Bust

All the headlines proclaim that Detroit has gone bankrupt. The b-roll footage shows block upon block of abandoned buildings, a cityscape that slipped past dystopia and into irrelevance.  All bankruptcy means, I think, is that Detroit has too much debt to pay back.  But these legal proceedings are not what is noteworthy. This filing probably could have been done ten or fifteen years ago. What matters more is that so little remains where the once-thriving city used to be.  Scholars can debate forever what caused this to happen: decline of the auto industry, freeways, riots, white flight, corruption, mismanagement.  All of these played a role.  Regardless of how much you take from Column A and how much from Column B, the total is still the same. A huge tract of land left in something less than even ruins. What is the next step down? What happens between when the last of the markers of civilization fall but before the archaeologists appear? What is this? Some sort of purgatory of not existing yet not quite gone.

Pity the town that needs Heroes.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New Cover For Heroes

I am close to putting up a revised version of Heroes on Amazon. In the meantime, I changed the cover.  The new cover was designed by a wonderfully talented woman named Teddi Black.  I hope you like the cover.  Look for the revised version of Heroes within the next couple of weeks.  I will announce it here.


Smoke Now Available on Amazon

I have a new novel available for download from Amazon. It is called Smoke.  It features some of the same characters in Heroes.  The two main characters from both books are Chris Garvin and George Hofmann.  The action in Smoke takes place earlier in time from Heroes.  Smoke explains why Garvin is so hesitant to get involved in the homicide investigation detailed in Heroes.  I hope you will enjoy this new novel.  I invite comments and questions from readers.  

As time permits, I will provide more insights into the novel.

Happy Reading.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In The Beginning

I remembered that I had an old paper copy of Heroes.  I thought it might be of some trivial interest for people to see what it looked like when I first printed it out.   So, there you have it.  I have printed versions of all of my books.  I don't think these prints have any written notes in the margins. At least, none that I wrote. Still, if there is ever a dispute about if a copy if legit, you can refer back to these pictures.

I need to start thinking about getting Smoke ready to publish. I think I might go with Smashwords this time. I was thinking I might have Smoke ready by summer. But, now it might be the fall.

Any preferences between Amazon and Smashwords?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Looking Back In Wonder

I have been correcting some typos in Heroes. I hope to have a second edition out sometime this spring. It was so odd to read back over parts of the text. I wrote Heroes about 18 years ago. That fact alone astonishes me.  As I read the text, I find that I don't recognize any of it, really. It's like reading a book that somebody else wrote. There is nothing I can do about it now; I don't have the energy or time to substantially rewrite the book.  I would not want to, either.  I think one interesting thing readers will find as I publish over titles is how my style changed.  Heroes seems to me to be the most conventional book I ever wrote. By the time you get to Exile,for example, my writing is a lot different. I'd like to think it was progress. Maybe it was just age gently tugging away at the will to put so many words in a row. I don't know.

BTW: It look like Heroes has moved up to 775,000th on the best seller list at Amazon.  No holding me back now.