This Happened to Me

I am starting to use this blog again after some three years and I thought it might be of interest to bring it up to date with an account of what happened during that time. It isn’t easy, because they were busy years and I have some issues with memory—not the senile kind but the kind where you just can’t recall much that happened. Really, it’s a blur, and I envy memoirists when I am not suspicious that they are making it all up. Anyway, I wrote a book called The Return somewhere back then. The book I wrote before that was called The Good Son and it was about a mother and her son, and I thought I would work with a father daughter thing in The Return (a dumb title, by the way; publisher’s choice.) In The Good Son, the mother gets kidnapped and the son rescues her, but in The Return, the daughter gets kidnapped too, but rescues herself. The father is busy saving other people. That difference may be significant if English majors ever mine my work, but I don’t recall giving it much thought. The books are thrillers and there’s nothing more thrilling than a kidnap.

Around this time, my publishing company got sold to a conglomerate and the guy they moved in to replace my publisher did not care for my work. He told my editor that he was not going to support The Return at all, after which he fired my editor.  I have had a number of editors in my time, but I never had one like Marjorie. She loved my work and I loved hers and we became very close friends. Even after she got fired I used to call her and have long talks about stuff, as friends do. She was suffering from stage four cancer at the time, but was not particularly bitter about being fired and losing health insurance and all that. She actually put energy into cheering me up.  

The my wife, Elizabeth, fell ill and after telling ourselves for a couple of months that it was just a bad flu, we went in for an examination and it was cancer, also stage four. This was the summer of 2015, and she died from then until December, 2014, in and out of hospitals and nursing homes, but largely at home. It was a Jacobean sort of death, fluids and filth, and she quickly retreated in horror to a place deep inside her (there was brain involvement too) and we never had a chance to say good-bye. Our children behaved heroically, taking care of her for those months, while I got sick myself and was hospitalized for a week and when I got home she was in the terminal coma, from which she left this earth on the mnemonically apt 12.13.14.

During all this and afterward I tried to drown my grief in workahol, and finished the historical novel I had started in 2012. I can’t quite recall why I had chosen to switch from thrillers. I was bored with them, probably, and I had enjoyed writing the historical segments of Book of Air and Shadows and Forgery of Venus. It came in at over six hundred pages and nobody liked it. I worked on it for over a year until my editor and my agent were satisfied and we sent it out, and now people liked it but wouldn’t buy it. It’s about the revolution of 1848 in Prague. What’s not to like? Then I wrote a conventional thriller about a rich guy whose wife gets killed by a maniac and then gets ripped off by a gang fronted by a grifter who pretends to love him and to be a psychic, except it turns out she really is psychic and really does love him. I thought it was a charming story, but so far no one at a publishing company agrees.

Another thing that happened is that I started email corresponding with a fan of my work on the advice of another fan who looked me up in Seattle. My correspondent arranged for me to give a set of lectures in Hawaii, where she lived, and then in the following year a writing workshop at her place on Oahu. Long story short, we got married a couple of weeks ago. Aliceanne is a professional psychic, so she probably knew all this, but it came as a vast surprise to me. 

I find I am reluctant to start another fiction project without a sale of the books I’ve already written. I’m advised to self-publish, but I haven’t decided to go that route. I’ve been professionally published for my entire career and even though self-publishing is entirely respectable nowadays, I still have qualms. I guess I’m yesterday’s man in that respect. On the other hand, I never expected the things that happened over the last three years, so maybe something interesting and unexpected will happen going forward. 

Meanwhile, I will tend this blog, both to keep in touch with readers and because I get itchy and depressed if I don’t write something. It’s a curse, really. I don’t see why so many people want to be writers.