562 days

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In July of 2020, my life changed drastically. In a chance encounter, I was having a discussion with a guest at the lodge about the novel I had written. She knew I had been pounding the online pavement seeking an agent without success, and she was keen to find out if I had made any progress. Had it been anyone else sitting at the table behind me, this blog post would end here. But as luck would have it, Neil and his family had overheard our conversation and they were eager to hear about my book. After a brief exchange, he asked to read it and I emailed him the manuscript. His response to the story changed the trajectory of my life.

He loved the premise of the story, he could see it being a series on Netflix, and he even went so far as to email the names of actors he could see playing the parts. Cloud nine was miles below me. Neil and his family were back at the lodge in August, and the two of us sat down every day and figured out how to incorporate my other ideas for stories to create The Relative Series.

In September of 2020, I had a Zoom meeting with Neil’s friend who has connections in the industry. He liked the idea and encouraged me to self-publish and start getting feedback. On January 11th, 2021, I published the first in the series, The Waking Hours. A book I began writing in 2001 was out in the world and was getting great reviews. My writing became fast and energetic, and I self-published One Eleven on April 30th, followed by Darkroom on August 26th.

562 days later, Root Cellar is in the hands of Beta readers, and should be published in mid-February, and I am three chapters into writing book five in the series, called Gemini. Fellow writers, I have said this before – talk about your writing, talk to anyone, and talk to everyone. The Neil in your life could be sitting at the next table, eager to inspire to you keep writing and believe in your stories.

The aptly named distraction called Netflix

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I can weakly defend the recent abandonment of my writing by calling Netflix ‘research’ but I don’t think that defense would hold up in a court of law. While I am gathering some very useful character traits and background ideas for my second book, I have yet to take those ideas and weave them into my characters.

My current book involves a serial killer but he is not fully a product of my imagination. He is loosely based on a child I met two years ago. This child did atrocious things to smaller living creatures and he stared at me with a look that turned my blood cold. He was only eight years old at the time. Perhaps my inability to focus on molding this character comes from my hope I am wrong about this little boy but everything about his mannerisms has been documented by behavior analysts and related to the psyche of a fledgling serial killer. I have had many discussions with professionals in related fields about this child’s actions and they have all expressed great concern about his tendencies toward violence and the path he is potentially going to follow.

This brings me back to my reason for this post. Netflix lives up to their name by casting a wide net of flicks and offering a profusion of shows and documentaries about many topics. If the authorities were to look at a list of the shows I have viewed recently, my name could potentially show up on their watch list. I spent the last couple of nights watching a series of shows about Ted Bundy and I am going to delve into a few more documentaries about real serial killers so my writing has an honesty to it and doesn’t come across as manufactured. I want this character to have deep emotion, to be real and to be frightening, and I want the reader to have an apprehension because they believe this character could be someone they have met before.

If you are looking for me, I will be caught in the net again, hoping these tortured human beings can help me understand how their minds work so the fiction of Lark will be as frightening as the reality of the heinous crimes they committed.