It turns out the way to render me speechless is to give me my life’s dream. After I got the news yesterday that I would be signing a two-book deal to publish my first novel and its sequel, I figured this site would be loaded with posts about myself and the book and my dreams. It turns out that I’m still just stunned.
I think part of this has to do with how quickly this all happened. After submitting novels for over ten years and settling in to expect response times of up to a year, I’m sure my bar for speedy response was pretty low, but even still, this happened FAST. That speed is one of the best parts of this new publishing world we’re living in. Since this deal is for digital only, it means I won’t have to wait a year or more to see my book for sale. Right now I think the plan is to release the first book this summer and then the second book shortly after that in the fall. So in less than a year I’ll go from having zero books published to two books published.
Now a bit about the book. I know I’ve talked about Murder Boy here and there, but this really is an important novel for me and I’m happy it’s the first one of mine that will be published. After spending years trying to write PI novels, I was getting frustrated and my writing had stagnated. For years that’s all I had written and all I had read. But in 2005 I discovered the online crime fiction community and that changed everything. I read Plots With Guns and Thuglit and saw writing I loved and could relate to that didn’t conform to the traditional crime fiction guidelines I’d been exposed to. This stuff was raw and wild and young. It was also strongly linked to the literary culture I was in awe of. A lot of the writers in these new pulp journals were coming out of MFA programs and read more than just crime fiction authors.
As I worked my way through the short stories, I started finding the novels. I was dually exposed to new novelists and the history of pulp and noir novels. I started writing short fiction for these magazines and experienced decent success, and even made a bit of money. But when it came to novels I was still trying to write the Great American PI novel. I wrote four of those before I finally gave up. I knew it was time to try something different but wasn’t sure what that was. And then in one grand weekend I read The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski and The Pistol Poets by Victor Gischler.
Duane’s book showed me a way to do structure and fast paced and violent, while Victor showed me a way to use my love of writers as lead characters without making them boring. Within a few days I had 15000 words of a new novel. It was rough and messy and all over the place, but I was energized. I didn’t know where to go with it as a novel, so I trimmed it down and submitted it as a short story to Thuglit. They published it and it ended up becoming my first appearance in print when they reprinted it in an anthology and that also resulted in my first payment for fiction. But for some reason, I couldn’t break the habit of writing PI novels and started another one.
By 2008 I was absolutely sick of writing and started looking for ways to turn that Murder Boy short story into a novel. I tried a few different openings and even tried writing part of it as a screenplay, but couldn’t find a way in. I spent the rest of 2008 bouncing between the PI novel and the Murder Boy novel, driving myself closer and closer to insanity before finally giving up writing completely for a while. The clouds finally broke in 2009 at the Love is Murder conference when I was talking to JT Ellison. I was at the conference officially to pitch the PI novel but couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for it at all. I told her what I really wanted to write was the Murder Boy novel but didn’t have any idea how to do it. She cheered me on and over the course of that conversation I figured out how to finally write that novel.
Over four years I tried a bunch of different things with that book before finally settling on a first person POV and throwing every bit of myself and my failures and dreams and emotions into it. I finished it last year during a lunch break from Murder and Mayhem in Muskego. I’d been stuck on the ending for months and it wasn’t until I sat down with a paper notebook and a stick pen that I cracked the ending and finished the book. I spent a few weeks polishing it up and then I submitted it. Jason was the second publisher to see it and the first to make an offer. Easy as that.
I have a lot more to say about how cool I think digital only publishing is, but we’ll save that for another day. Guess it turns out I’m not as lost for words as I thought.