As some folks are no doubt dying to know the story of my writing career. I’m going to attempt a capsule version. Of course I once set out to write a short story and ended up with 1400 pages. I’ll try my best to make this shorter.
As high school kid and later as a college English major, my choice in novels skewed toward the “literary”, which to me meant novels of character rather than novels of plot.
So my first novel, Midheaven, got labeled “literary”. And though it earned a prestigious award and was well reviewed, it didn’t sell a whole lot.
The next couple novels I wrote were rather experimental. They didn’t find a publisher.
My friend Don Merritt was making decent money writing adventure paperback originals. I needed money, so I wrote what I thought was one of those. But when I sent it to my agent, she said, “Oh no, this isn’t a paperback original. It’s a literary novel.”
I put writing aside, and started teaching too much, at several colleges, on account of needing money. After a year of that, I was a mess. Then some friends who were mystery writers asked to see my adventure/literary manuscript. They read it and urged me to send it to a certain mystery contest. I did so and won.
So I became a mystery writer, for seven books. And though they won plenty awards and earned consistently excellent reviews, they didn’t sell a lot. One reason, I think they aren’t what most readers look for when they buy a mystery, even though I had tried to restrain myself and stay within the boundaries of the genre. I’m just not good at restraint.
So at long last, I have decided to forget restraint and write what I most love to read, which is novels about crime but also about character, what people think and feel and act and often do such weird and irrational stuff.
I have completed the third draft and I’m happy about it. A couple more revisions and we’ll see what happens. It’s called, by the way, The Answer to Everything.