Saturday, January 16, 2010

Love. Suffer. Write

Last Wednesday evening I attended an author event featuring thriller writers Stephen Hunter (Point of Impact; Night of Thunder; I, Sniper), and Stephen Coonts (Flight of the Intruder; The Assassin; The Disciple). I don’t write thrillers (yet, anyway), but I love them.  Besides, my editor, Barbara Peters, considers the last page of Night of Thunder one of the best endings to a novel EVER.  


Aside from the fact that these guys are hilarious, I was really entertained by hearing what they go through to get a book written.  Hunter told us that before he wrote his latest, I, Sniper, he proposed several plot ideas to his publishers which they not only rejected outright, but laughed at to boot.  Coonts said that he started Disciple, his newest book, five times.  I nearly fell out of my chair when he uttered a sentence that I actually wrote on this very site a couple of weeks ago.  “I knew where I was going,” he said, “but I didn’t know how to get there.”


The big guys suffer over their books just as do we lesser mortals.  All of us who put pen to paper understand each other’s love of the art, the pain, the longing.  The very strange thought processes.


Last week, I mentioned the notebook I keep by my bedside.  Many authors do this, for as you know, brilliant thoughts are ephemeral, and if you don’t get them down immediately, they are gone forever, lost, and ever to be mourned.  I only repeated a couple of particularly strange and poetic notes that I found on the pages of this notebook, but as I look over the rest, it occurs to me that anyone who read these scribblings would conclude that I either need a psychiatrist, or that I write mystery novels.


Here are some odd notations taken from a random page, in order.  I swear I am not making this up:


Tobacco and soapsuds to kill aphids

Boning knife - sharp point, long thin blade

Skinned hog keeps better than scalded hog

war hot blood vandals

What is this ennui? I think it must be possible to die of ennui.

[illegible]

now I had never seen a riot, but I expected I was about to

Miz B’s father hanged for murder

severed renal artery

Nothing that I see before my eyes is real

Action. Snakes. Storm. Pecan pie. Stampede.


There’s a hell of a book in there, somewhere.


And speaking of weird ideas ... hedge jumping, snail races, worm charming! Oh, Hannah, how do you come up with them?  Our guest blogger tomorrow, the lovely and delightful Hannah Dennison, will tell us. Her third Vicky Hill mystery, Expose’, set in the exciting world of British snail racing, just came out this month.

1 comment:

Charles Benoit said...

I like it as it is - a great 'found poem'.