by Paul D. Marks
A long time ago an agent asked me if I had a “big book” in me? I told him yes, because what else are you supposed to say? They want to hear yes and you don’t want to turn them off, so you tell them what they want to hear. But the fact of the matter is it was true anyway. I did have an idea for a big book in me. And not only an idea but I had even made notes and a timeline and character chart on a huge piece of paper, something I don’t normally do as a “pantster”.
It’s not a crime book, though there may be some crimes in it. And it is a “big” book in the sense that it spans several decades of the 20th century. It’s also still something I would love to do because I love history and I love the concept.
The big book is about intertwined families, relationships and the march of history in a fictional context—that sounds pretty ‘big,’ doesn’t it?—going on down through the decades and yes, there might be some crime in it, but it wouldn’t be a crime novel per se. I suppose you could say it was mainstream, maybe even literary. I read all kinds of things, well a lot of different things, and I enjoy the mainstream and literary genres, which sometimes overlap, so I guess that’s what you could call the “big book”. And that’s one of the things I might write if not a crime novel.
Things I probably wouldn’t write would be sci-fi, romance, YA or fantasy. But I also thought I’d never write horror and around Halloween I’ll have my second horror story—The Long Night—coming out in the Simple Things anthology, edited by Franklin E. Wales. My first horror tale—Finders Keepers—appeared in Journals of Horror–Found Fiction, edited by Terry M. West, last Halloween. As I say, I never thought I’d write horror stories but was asked by Terry to do something for Journals of Horror, with no guarantee that it would get in. I saw it as a challenge. And luckily it got in! It was fun to do but really stretched my writing chops. I’ve also written some humor/satire fiction and mainstream/literary, as well as crime. For example, a story called Terminal Island was published in the literary journal Weber: The Contemporary West. Another mainstream/literary story, Endless Vacation, received recognition from Glimmer Train and The Lorian Hemingway International Short Story Competition. But writing horror was really a stretch. So when Frank came to me and asked me to do another one I thought, “I can do this…maybe.” Would lightning strike twice? It did. But it truly is a challenge writing outside of your comfortable genre. And I guess I’m just comfortable with gunshots, stabbings, exsanguination, petechiae eyes and death by a sickly sweet green liquid disguised as Gatorade, a.k.a. anti-freeze. But I am getting more comfortable with the horror genre.
So, who knows, maybe one day I will write a sci-fi or romance or YA book. Never say never. What about you?
If you’re in SoCal, I hope you’ll join Laurie Stevens, Connie Archer, Elizabeth Harris and me for Halloween Highjinks...or Lojinks tomorrow (10/29/16), 1:30pm at the Platt Library in Woodland Hills: 23600 Victory Boulevard, Woodland Hills, CA 91367. We’ll be reading from our spooky works, talking writing and having a swell time. And there might even be some Halloween candy. And it’s free and open to the public.
For more info click this link: https://www.lapl.org/whats-on/events/get-ready-halloween-party
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