So…Getting Close

There’s something exciting about reaching the end of a story. And something sad. You’ve gone on a journey through another place, taken a tour, without a map, through other people’s lives. Does it matter that they're fictitious? I don’t think so. We’re all characters, in one reality or another. Each day we rewrite ourselves, and as we see each other evolve in the world there’s a joy to the process. No less so than the people we meet in the world of books.

But, then again, I’m a writer. So, you’d expect me to say that.

The Parker Trilogy will always be special to me because it was when this writing “gig” got real. Anyone can do something once. But can they do it twice? I distinctly remember being halfway through Another One and thinking, “Oh, man. What have I done? This is NOT going to be a stand-alone book like The Snow Globe.” And I desperately wanted it to be. Another trilogy? Man. 1000 pages of work. And I was going to have to convince my readers to go another 1000 pages, too? Would they? Wouldn’t they be happier with a nice, self-contained 350-page novel about what happened to Detective Evan Parker once the dust settled after that fateful day at Evergreen Park? I would.

But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what you think, as a writer. The proof that your characters are real – in whatever sense you want to use the word – is in how theywill dictate the story you tell and how much time you give them to tell it. It’s like a high school party in your head that gets way out of control. Before long, people are showing up that you never invited, and someone brought a band that’s setting up in the garage without your permission, and panic sets in.

Until the excitement takes over. “What’s going to happen?” you wonder. And the joy is in the unknown. So, when Father Bernardino showed up in the story and I found myself trying to interview priests in East L.A. about the unique challenges of shepherding families through poverty and the gang life? I went with it. When those same priests eschewed any discussions about lusting after women in the pews (yeah, I was brazen enough to ask)? I shrugged. When the research into P.T.S.D. for One Way or Another got too heavy? I pushed on. And when I was sixty pages into One Gray Day, only to have a detective friend of mine tell me, point blank, that the path I was taking was utterly impossible in the police world? I shrugged again (okay, after punching the wall), backed up sixty pages, and started over.

My editor is currently doing a manuscript critique of One Gray Day. I’ve nicknamed her “Punker Girl” because she’s so tough and so tough on me. Today, she sent me an email to say that she’s almost done, but also a little bent because the book made her cry. Hopefully, not because it sucks so bad 😊 I’m guessing she’s gonna take those tears right outta my hide, with revisions and extra work.

But that’s okay. Because I won’t have to do it alone. Parker will be there to help, as will Father Soltera and Hector. It’s a team effort, you see. And when this book releases in March? The four of us will gather together around the keg with our red Solo cups full of beer and hope that you come to join the party with us.


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