Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Not The Guy Who Played Luke Skywalker

I’m starting to get serious about the werewolf novel -- (yes, so serious that I might start using words like genre). Sure, I’d been working on it the last couple of weeks, kicking ideas around, following my main character through the next couple of scenes I’d envisioned. And while the last few days I've only written a few hundred words, I have gotten serious.

But here’s what I mean by serious: Cancelling stuff and research.

We’ve cancelled our subscription to the Hamilton Spectator. The darned thing is too interesting -- so much so that I’ve gotten accustomed to reading it during the morning commute. It was during the morning commute in 1999/2000 that I finished the first draft of my novel Morning Son -- well, that was back when I didn’t really know anyone on the GO train and we didn’t have a subscription to the Spec. Then, I got to know Norm and Heather and Janette and Lou and Justin, and started reading the paper -- all good morning fun, but I lost my writing time. I’d moved it to the afternoon (splitting my "book reading" time with writing), but soon enough I'd fallen into an interesting group of afternoon GO people -- who got very distracting with their jokes and low brow humour. Yes, low brow humour like "guess the body part" games where the crook of your elbow is supposed to look like a butt crack. Sigh. So I have no choice but to try to split the writing between morning and afternoon and see if I can at least get a little something done during all the distractions.

Research I’ve done includes contacting the Algonquin Hotel in New York. It being a place I love staying at when in the city (with its literary history), I thought I’d have the writer in my novel staying there as a long-term guest, a writer in residence of sorts. The manager of the Algonquin will be calling me today with some details about how that would work and details about the specific room he’d be staying in to make my fiction that much more believable. (And who knows, maybe a special "writer" rate next time Fran and I are in town?)

And on the believability front, I’ve been trying to get some information about the neighbourhood near Battery Park and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in the pre-dawn hours -- I got a bit of good info passed along to me via Ellen Datlow, a New York-based editor. But this past weekend I sent an email to Denis Hamill (a New York Daily News columnist whose mystery and suspense novels are chock full of a real sense of neighbourhood and community - when you read his books, you’re there with the characters and soaking in the atmosphere, the people, the sights the sounds, the essence) I figured, if anyone could help me with a sense of that area of town at 5:30 AM, he could. Denis emailed me back within hours of my request. Very cool. He not only gave me a wonderfully detailed view of the neighbourhood I was asking about, but he also gave me ideas on how my guy could try to blend into the scenery as well as some great writing tips.

I’ve loved reading his novels for a while now, but now he’s also on my list of people I’d love to sit down in a bar, have a beer and shoot the shit with. Of course, it would have to be a bar in Brooklyn, since I’m sure there would be a lot of great anecdotes and local stories he’d be able to relay. I’m going to end this blog with a little commercial pitch for mystery lovers to check out his “Bobby Emmet” mystery series as well as his stand-alone mystery-thrillers. I've peppered this blog entry with fun colourful images of his book covers.

Bobby Emmet mysteries

Some other great titles

I’m likely not the world’s greatest mystery fan -- my reading skims through many genres, I’m all over the place, but at the top of my favourite detective characters list are Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, Giles Blunt’s John Cardinal and Denis Hamill’s Bobby Emmet. (And recently, Linwood Barclay’s Zack Walker is making his humourous presence felt on my favourites list, too)

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