Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bits and Pieces

I just got a glimpse of the first cover draft for my January book, The Sky Took Him.  I’m all revved up, now.  It’s almost a real book with a real cover and everything.

Reading about Debby and Vicki’s March tour makes me feel all bad about myself, because I’ve only done the most desultory tour planning for Sky. I’ve been concentrating on desperately trying to learn all the nifty features of my new iMac so that I can do all kinds of impressive virtual touring.  There is a camera on my iMac, and believe it or not, I think I’m capable of doing a short video such as Charles has done recently.  I’d show you, Dear Reader, but the content would very much suffer in comparison.  Even if I had a witty and insightful script prepared, I’d have to spend an hour or so in makeup before filming. I’ve seen the results if I don’t, and believe me, my dignity would not permit me to do otherwise.  In my head, I still look like Photo A (Left - Rose-lipped Maiden), where in actuality, I now look like Photo B (Right - Rose-lipped Maiden after she’s been around the block about a thousand times.)

Speaking of publicity tours, earlier this week, I made the trip into Scottsdale to the Poisoned Pen Bookstore to see Fred Ramsay and Priscilla Royal talk about their latest novels.  Fred is a good friend and one of the most disgustingly prolific authors I’ve ever met. Unlike me, his novels aren’t pried out of him with a crowbar - he truly loves to write.  If his publisher would let him, he could easily do two or three novels a year, I think.  His newest, Stranger Room, is the fourth in his Sheriff Ike Schwartz series.  Priscilla Royal’s latest is Forsaken Soul, the fifth installment in her series about Prioress Eleanor at Tyndal Priory in Thirteenth Century England.  The discussion was fascinating.

And while I was listening, something happened to me that any author who has ever put pen to page will recognize.  We were talking about research.  Priscilla does tons of it, as you might guess, and adores it.  Fred hates it and does only what he has to do.  However, both of them agreed that the story is more important than the facts. Suddenly,  I had an epiphany.  I’ve been working on Book Five for months, trying to stretch the story to cover the historical events of the spring and summer of 1917.  Well, guess what?  I don’t have to!  I can have all my events occur at once, if I want to, because this is fiction, not a history book.  All I would need is an author’s note and a disclaimer. 

A few weeks ago, I was in the audience at another author event, sitting next to Tim Hallinan (The Fourth Watcher), listening to Carolyn Wall talk about her upcoming Sweeping Up Glass, when suddenly Tim stiffened at something she said, leaned over toward me, and whispered, “I’ve just thought of how to end my next book.”  Then he jumped up and left to find a piece of paper to write it down on.  

So go on tours.  Make public appearances when you can. You never know when something you say will inspire a great novel.


Charles benoit said...

I see no difference in the photos.

Timothy Hallinan said...

Donis --

Thanks to that insight/revelation/whatever it was, I'm about three days away from finishing. And I will tell you candidly that I've been trying to get to the end of this one for almost four months, for the first time in about 20 novels, if you count the ones I wrote under other names. (No, no one famous.)

So maybe you sent me something, or maybe it was just all the ideas dripping down off the books, but it wasn't actually what Carolyn was talking about, which was completely unrelated. However, I'm grateful for it wherever it came from.

Donis Casey said...

Charles, you're a gentleman. I do seem to be getting blonder, though.
Tim, you didn't say it was something you heard, I just made that assumption. I love the idea that it was collective genius flying around and you tuned in to it. This book may have a hell of an ending!