Archive for February, 2007

19
Feb
07

JOHN CONNOLLY’S THE WHITE ROAD: STYLE IS THE (DEAD) MAN

Reading John Connolly’s The White Road, a Charlie Parker novel. At first taste I thought the style was unnecessarily elaborate, but after a while I realized that the baroque tendencies and ominous pacing of Connolly’s prose were functional, not gratuitous. The style helps create an atmosphere of tension and dread, a troubled surface beneath which you can sense unseen things moving, things which might–and do–suddenly break through into this world.

The intrusion of the supernatural into the daylight world has to be prepared for, or else it can seem too abrupt, even mechanical. The constant tension in the prose creates an expectation, so that when the other world suddenly impinges on this one, you’re ready for it.

The master of this kind of ominous atmospherics was Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, another Irish writer whose novels don’t otherwise resemble Connolly’s. LeFanu wrote a number of novels; his best-known work is Uncle Silas, a grim little tale of murder and intrigue. He also wrote many ghost stories, and his hauntings feel both shocking and inevitable.

Connolly’s handling of the supernatural is deft and frightening, and gives his thrillers an extra dose of terror and suspense.

I’m ready for more of this guy.

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17
Feb
07

NO TIME LIKE THE FIRST TIME

The first copies of my book arrived yesterday.

They are things of beauty.

I prop them up on the dining room table and sit there, admiring the work of designers and editors, and trying to connect these lovely objects to the idea that I’ve written them. It seems so improbable.

I’ve loved books for so long, and tried so hard and long to write one myself.

And now here they are, with my name on the spine, pretending that I’ve actually created them

It’s quite a moment.

I’ll go along with the joke.

And it’s a moment in motion. You can only ever publish one first novel, as Bill Cameron pointed out. It’s a one-time experience.

And sweet.

I do worry about living up to the first book. Now everything I write will be conditioned by it, set against it, and I have to write something as good or better. I hope I’m up to it.

But I have to resist this kind of anxiety-haunted negativity. Jane says I have a real talent for making the worst of a good situation. Time to be in the moment and bask in the glow of these two identical book-sized objects with my name on them.

Life is good.

06
Feb
07

AND OUT THE OTHER SIDE

Finished the big Final Confrontation scene in the WIP last night, after working on it all weekend (with time out for Superbowl). I think it works. A lot better than the more or less by-the-numbers ending I had originally planned. Now I’m back on solid ground, that is, scenes already written or blocked out that I still like, waiting to be incorporated in the Big Wrap-up.

It feels good. Not “last sentence, I’m done!” good, but good. Almost there.

04
Feb
07

YOU CAN’T JUST STAY IN BED ALL DAY

though sometimes it seems like a good idea.

How I spent my Saturday:

Got up early, fed addictions, farted around aimlessly on the web for a couple hours.

Finally got down to work and hacked away at the WIP for about four hours. “Work” for me involves re-reading what I wrote the day before, and, depending on inspiration level, sometimes much more. Next comes staring at the screen for extended periods, followed by a flurry of manic typing. Rinse, repeat.

Now Jane is up and briskly organizing some kind of shopping expedition. I have her drop me off at Kinko’s, where I spend an hour and a half working on a press release and writing letters to bookstores.

Afterwards we go to a nearby Chinese restaurant for dinner. It’s called the Little Hunan, apparently because there is little Hunan on the menu. The food is simple and good, though, so I am happy in spite of the absence of fiery hot peppers.

Next, as a treat, we go to the auto parts store to get a magic missing part so I can get the engine parts off the passenger seat of my car before I forget where they go.

Back home, where I drink a porter and fall asleep on the couch listening to old-timey music (Foghorn Stringband from Portland, OR).

Gradually wake up, stagger into study, fart around on web (see above) and work on website for a couple hours. Reread WIP achievements of the morning, fuss-edit, delete, restore, close.

So let’s see: I spend forty hours plus a week sitting in front of a computer terminal, hacking away. Then, for fun, I come home and put in another ten hours on a Saturday.

It’s an exciting life.

What a loser.

And–with any luck–I’ll do the same thing today.