I’ve been a writer most of my adult life. I’ve mainly written comic books and TV cartoons, a teeny bit of live action television.
I tried my hand at writing a novel back in… I don’t know… around 1980. It got so far as a reading and ultimate rejection by The Dial Press. Now it sits in the attic, heavily sedated, in a box wrapped with heavy chain to keep it from escaping into the world.
My next novel came more than twenty years later. The animation career was pulling a vanishing act on me and I had this screenplay I hadn’t been able to sell, so I decided to novelize it and use the book to sell the movie. The novelization was going to take me a month.
Nine months later I had a real book, Risen, that put the screenplay to shame. I began the arduous task of selling it to a publisher while I reworked the screenplay from page one. Fifteen months after I began the process (during which time I self-published), I had an agent. A year after that, I had a publisher. After another few months I had a book in bookstores. And six months after that, it was gone, out of print, unavailable for the next six years.
I began to feel like I’d once done something kind of special, and now all I could do was look back and remember it: I wrote a novel once. No… you can’t buy it anywhere. I might have a copy around here somewhere. Yeah, here it is. It’s kind of worn and tattered. You can have it if you want.
Still, the plan worked like most of my plans, which is to say, “sort of.” During those six years Risen was optioned for film five times. No movie ever got made, though. Well, not yet anyway. Ever hopeful.
When I got the book rights back, I put Risen out as an ebook on Amazon. I didn’t have any expectation of sales but I wanted it to be available if anyone did stumble across it and was curious to read the story.
Eighteen months later, Risen was finding its audience and I started thinking about publishing another novel. About a year after that, I published The Summer We Lost Alice. Like Risen, Alice was based on an unsold screenplay. By the time I wrote “the end,” the novel bore only the most superficial resemblance to its source material.
The glory days of self-publishing were, by then, over. Millions of self-published books were flooding the market and sales were harder than ever to come by. But I had the bug. I was in love with writing novels and people who are in love do crazy things.
I began writing One Last Time. It was my first novel (since the one I keep in indefinite detention) to be written directly for print, not based on any other work. By now I was neck deep in a full time job with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and was only squeezing in an hour or so of writing in the morning before I had to grab my coffee and lunch and briefcase and hurry off to work. One Last Time took me about two years to complete, minus a couple of months I took off to write the stories in The Murmuring Field and Other Stories.
Regarding the short stories: What happened was, I got stuck three chapters into One Last Time and wasn’t sure what to do about the problem. I had these stories in my head and decided to write them up, so that’s what I did. After finishing The Murmuring Field and Other Stories I returned to the novel to find the answer to my problem staring me in the face. It meant starting over, but the story worked from that point on.
Now here we are, all caught up to the summer of 2014. If anything happens from here, I’ll write it up in my blog.