Slow rain outside, misty, foggy, nothing pressing to do, you just want to stay abed a while longer – or return after a leisurely hot shower. Maybe there’s some activity in the next room or down the hall, but it doesn’t matter.
Reminds me of a visit to a neighboring college back in Indiana, when I cracked open my poetry course assignment to an appropriate new vision – one of several breakthroughs that October weekend, actually. Savor another cup of coffee, reflect, recharge. You need those, at least in some proportion to the rest of your goals and life mission. Even if an ingrained Protestant work ethic guilt tries to kick in.
The fog around the island also reminds me of Washington state and visits to friends on the other side of the Cascades mountains. The same smoky indolence.
Do you have any memories of a special time or place of moody experiences like these?
Does a mystery novel have to revolve around a detective? Even a charming amateur? Or can it focus instead on the leading suspect?
In proposing a book with the working title, Dinner to Die For, I envisioned an anonymous restaurant critic who works for an independent television station. How to handle the visuals for each review would have posed an interesting challenge, something quite unlike the so-called Phantom Gourmet who has since become a popular staple on a New England cable news channel. He’s widely recognized on the street, for one thing.
Well, the novel never moved forward. This project was predicated on two collaborators, who eventually declined, however discretely.
Still, enough remained to slip into my newest book, Along the Parallel Tracks of Yin and Yang.
As a further twist, my biggest novel on the way is also about food and restaurants. This time, from the inside. And I promise, it won’t be a mystery.
As I revisit the abandoned plans for two early novels, what I encounter feels strange and wondrous – and sometimes sophomoric. Yes, I wrote what appears here, but these days the words could be by a stranger – a youngster I wouldn’t mind meeting. In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential campaign, what had seemed outrageous in my “political science fiction” draft four decades earlier now has an air of prophecy. The other work, a detective novel, revives memories of a potential collaborator no longer among the living. Put together with a little bit more, they create a new book of fiction, one that runs Along the Parallel Tracks of Yin and Yang. As we might say in Zen, these works are what they are. Or what you, too, bring to the story. Enjoy the ride.
The limited success of politically-based fiction continues to surprise me. Shakespeare, opera, and Greek tragedy all have their fill of court intrigue and power pl0ys, but modern democracies just don’t seem to stir the same passions. The success of the West Wing television series and a few movies stands as an anomaly. And then there are the lawyers who have built on their own experiences. Still!
Years ago, as science fiction was gaining respectability, I thought I might fuse the two by creating political science fiction, which led to a draft of my Cowboy from Mars. In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential campaign, it’s not as far out as I’d thought. Take a look for yourself. It’s included in Along the Parallel Tracks of Yin and Yang, my new collection of fiction.