Yes, I know it has been awhile since I’ve posted any words of wit and wisdom here, but it’s not like I haven’t been writing, I just haven’t been writing here.
I finished the first book in my retiree mystery series (it’s being read by an agent at the time of writing) and started the second one, finished the serial-killer-in-Calgary literary mystery (and about to send it out to a publisher), finished the science fiction wunderbook I started in the late 80s (which will be submitted to publishers ASAP), written a few more articles for SEARCH Magazine in San Francisco, beta read an early draft of a wonderful fantasy novel from the talented Suzy Vadori, and am now writing a romcom (romantic comedy) novel because my friend, agent/editor Stacey Kondla, challenged me to write a novel inspired by my own romantic life experiences, and it could be nothing but a comedy.
Throw in trying to figure out numerous health surprises that have popped up in the last seven months and deal with residual personal stuff I should have dealt with a few years ago, and I’ve been busy. But truly, it’s the romcom that has kept me away from here the most, because it is not an easy project to write. There are serious rules to romcoms, places where beats and events must happen, almost to the page number. And it has to be funny. Not ‘chuckle chuckle cute’, but flat-out fucking hilarious. I think I write humour well, but my humour tends to be more organic, than planned. I start writing a scene with a tone in mind and let the characters banter about, finding the funny in their personalities. But a novel written specifically as a comedy is no easy task, at least the first time out. I keep finding myself devolving into serious matters best left for novels about serial killers or cold case murders or dead Tsarinas, and have to back-up and redo the scene. Or scenes. Unless this one strikes unsuspected gold, I suspect it will be my only romcom.
To make this all easier, though, I’m using kittens as a plot device and humour-starter. And alcohol. Not on an addictive level, like the last novel, but enough to loosen tongues and get stories told that maybe shouldn’t be. This new one is also set in my hometown, Toronto, which you think would make it easier to write, but in fact I’ve selected a part of the city I’ve never even been to. Thank God for Google Streetview.
One big thing about this novel (and it’s not the first time I’ve done this– see novel #1, The Broken Shield), is that I’ve included a character based on a friend who took his own life last fall after a tragedy in his workplace that took the life of a young child. My friend was overwhelmed and left us far too early, so I’m doing my best to keep his memory alive by giving him a small role in my protagonist’s world.
As the novel grows slowly (19,000 words as of February 3rd, 2019) I keep my chin up by remembering that the script for the film, When Harry Met Sally took FOUR YEARS to fully develop, despite the fact that it was comedy geniuses Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner writing it. Funny takes time, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. Will it be in the same class as Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary or Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity? Hardly. But it’ll be the best I can do, and it will immortalize my more than forty years of messed-up dating, and might even have a happier ending (romantically) than I expect for myself.
If that isn’t all enough to keep me away from here, I’m going to be self-publishing my fantasy quest novel in the spring of 2019 and am busy tightening up the manuscript and designing the package. I’ll let you know when it’s done and available.
When I get a break, I’ll be back. I promise.
Ciao for now.