How did your first novel/story come about and how long did it take to get it published?
by Paul D. Marks
Since I love using Beatle song titles, the path to my first fiction publication was a long and winding road.
There's really no simple or easy answer to the question of how my first story came about because it's so long ago who really remembers? I know who doesn't: me. I don't even remember what my first story was. What I do remember is that I was always writing something. I think I started off writing poems and song lyrics. One time I even wrote some lyrics in the margins of a science test. And the science teacher also happened to have a music publishing biz on the side – which I didn't know. He liked the lyrics so much he wanted to publish the song. Unfortunately, the lyrics I wrote were for the Beatles' I'm Only Sleeping.
But one of my early novels, a satire about a screenwriter trying to make it in Hollywood, was almost published way back in the 80s. Almost. It was accepted for publication (if that's the right terminology) by a major publisher. But then there was a "housecleaning" at that publisher: the old team of editors and assistant editors got swept out. And the new team didn't want most of the old team's slate of projects, so I got swept out with the "new broom". So that one almost got published. But by the time it was put into "turnaround" it was too late for it as a lot of the humor was dated. Remember Fawn Hall, Jessica Hahn, Donna Rice and Gary Hart – see what I mean, dated. 'Cause even though it was about a guy trying to make it in Hollywood, it had a lot of topical and satirical humor of the day. I work on it every once in a while to remove the dated satirical elements and make it more neutral in terms of topicality. So one of these days it might see the light.
The first writing that I got paid for was a piece in one of the L.A. papers about John Lennon on, I believe, the one year anniversary of his murder. It wasn't fiction, but it felt awfully good to actually get paid for writing something. But even though it felt good to be paid, there were mixed emotions because of the subject matter.
My first published fiction was a story called Angels Flight (before Michael Connelly borrowed the title from me ). It was published in the Murder by Thirteen anthology and recently republished in L.A. Late @ Night, a collection of five of my stories. A new review of L.A. Late @ Night in the current issue of All Due Respect calls Angels Flight the reviewer's favorite story in the collection and says this about the two main characters, "They're a dynamic pair, and I'd like to see them together in more stories," so I might just have to oblige him.
After Angels Flight, I had more stories published and eventually my novel White Heat. And all I can do to end is quote another rock band, the Grateful Dead, "What a long strange trip it's been."