Monday, February 20, 2006

The Well

About seven months ago, I had an idea for a story called The Well. It hit me all at once, as these things rarely do, but I was at work, so I sat down at lunch and sent myself an e-mail, getting as much down as I could. The funny thing was, I didn't much like the idea. It was darker than what I usually like to write, and it kind of got under my skin.

When I sat down at the computer that weekend to flesh it out, I turned out page after page, each more distasteful than the next. The more detail I added to the story, the less I liked it. I don't mind creeping out others a bit, but I think that restraint is a virtue, and I really didn't want to cross a line in my writing that I wouldn't want to cross in my reading. So, even though I thought there was a story worth telling in there somewhere, I set it aside.

A few days ago, I came across the initial e-mail. When I read it, I was struck by something -- my notes had what my attempts to flesh it out had lacked. Subtlety. Ambiguity. Restraint. There was no explicit violence or anything overtly objectionable. Just a pervasive, eerie mood, one that still managed to creep me out. So I sat down and started tinkering, and not long after, I had my first ever work of very short fiction. 775 words did what 5,000 couldn't. An interesting lesson, and one that resulted in the easiest story I've ever written of any length. Funny how things work out.

A few minutes ago, I sent it out the door. I guess we'll see soon if The Well was worth the wait.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Love and Murder

These past weeks, I've been in a holding pattern. The Toll Collectors and A Simple Kindness are both out the door, looking for a home. The second draft of my novel is coming along, albeit slowly. And so, on this Valentine's Day edition of my bi-weekly guilt-fueled posts, I've little to report. This, folks, is the insight you just won't get from a Neil Gaiman or a Tess Gerritsen. The waiting. The utter lack of news. The fast-paced world of the not-yet-published. Yup, this is the stuff.

What I can say is that lately I've had phenomenal luck in the stuff I've been reading, thanks in part to the fine folks at Hard Case Crime, though most of the credit goes to my lovely wife Katrina. Her unerring taste has left me with a pile of great books from Christmas, my birthday, and now Valentine's Day. I mean come on, what says Valentine's Day like Ed McBain's The Gutter and the Grave?

So, to those who want to give the gift of murder and mayhem, let me say this: Lawrence Block is one badass mofo. Donald Westlake is great fun. Domenic Stansberry's The Confession is utterly incredible. Seriously. The dude scared me a little.

And why didn't anybody tell me that Alan Moore's Watchmen was this damn good? (Okay, to be fair, like a billion people told me, but it took a while for me to listen.) If you haven't read it, go now and buy it. If you don't like it, e-mail me and I'll send you a check for the cost. Of course, if you don't like it, the chances you're smart enough to successfully operate a computer are slim, so I think I'm off the hook.

That's it for now. With luck, some real news to follow. Stay tuned.