Tuesday, January 12, 2021

January 12, 2021



I suspect for most writers, there is an incubation period preceding the actual penning (gives you an idea of my age, doesn’t it) of a work. During this warm-up period (months for me), several exercises are part of the process. Crucial among them: 1) thinking – of plot, characters, scenes, possible story progression from beginning to end. I’m one who prefers to have an ending at least roughly in mind. 2) jotting – ideas, possible dialogue, story development – jotted immediately. 3) for my Quarry crime fiction series – re-reading previous work to re-establish a feel for characters, chronology and continuity of facts, i.e. getting into Quarry’s skin once more. Rather then re-imagining my protagonist, I’m recalling him. 4) for new work – research.

As an example of the latter, my most recent effort, The Matchmaker: A Love Story in a Technological Age, two lonely adults are connected by a drone equipped with artificial intelligence (AI). Though the story might be classified under the rubric of science fiction (SciFi), I don't think of it as such. My research focused on cutting-edge scientific developments of drones, materials, battery life development, flight mechanics and electro-physical laboratory essentials. In other words, for me at least, the story is contemporary, not futuristic.

Though The Matchmaker is foremost a love story framed by science, I have little doubt that a lover of science (or even a scientist) somewhere will find questionable any event in the story as of yet scientifically untenable. In anticipation of this, I will say that though my imagination traveled along the edge of current drone development, even if I’m a bit pre-mature in my imagining of what is, it won’t be by much. It’s only a matter of time until the imagined becomes historical. That said, readers, please know I sought to be as accurate as possible with the science up to where data ended and my imagination assumed control.

 

Monday, January 11, 2021

 


 

 

Blog 17 November 22, 2020

I’ve always been an omnivorous reader. In the aftermath of a bitterly contested Presidential race and the increasing concerns that have infiltrated my thoughts over the past four years, I’ve found myself pondering the impact of daily political reality in my reading and writing habits. Have they changed? Have yours?

Since my reading intertwines with my writing (how could it not?), I believe there has been a narrowing in the scope of my reading. Living for four years with the daily task of tamping down anxiety per political developments and an unrelenting assault on truth, I no longer read thrillers, particularly political thrillers. The tension deflects my interest.

Though I still read crime fiction, per the bulk of my novelistic efforts, I need more than ever to believe in the credibility of the protagonists. While their morality remains a defining factor for me, I need to believe they could really exist. With apologies to Lee Child, I no longer look to Jack Reacher-like heroes for reading entertainment. His character, approaching comic book superhero dimensions, landed somewhere beyond my ability to suspend my disbelief. In what I believe is a pervading quest for believability, I’m drawn more to a Jack Taylor (Ken Bruen) or a Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly), normal-sized characters, their flawed humanity rescued by unfailing ethics and commitment.

I believe, also, that I approach non-fiction with a more cautious selectivity. My dietary hunger for books that examine socio-economic-political issues, particularly in the United States, is now more restrictive. Please don’t misunderstand, I still read Matt Taibbi, for example, as he explores the inhumane ways that some Americans use American institutions to exploit so many of their countrymen – and women. If anything, I read Taibbi and his ilk out of a sense of duty and responsibility to my country as well as a need to know. That said, uncontrolled indulgence in the spate of books spawned by the corruption of truth over the last four years could leave me immobilized to purpose, something I will never live without.

Finally, three to four times per year I deliberately choose a piece of what critics regard as literature, classic or contemporary. Even there, I’m guarded, more so currently. Sadly, since so much of it tends to bore me or leave me scrambling to comprehend (always a lousy feeling as it batters my belief in my own intelligence), I carefully pick over the story suggested by the flyleaf. If I see it described as the author’s intent to “explore…” (fill in the blank), I tend to tighten. If the story doesn’t intrigue me, I move on, regardless of author. For me, it’s always about the story, an intended message secondary. How about you?

In editing this piece, I noticed a repetitive use of some form of “belief” (belief, believe, disbelief). More than merely suggest, it underscored how critical believability is in my reading and writing. Even if it’s fiction, I need to believe it in order to believe in it.

January 12, 2021 I suspect for most writers, there is an incubation period preceding the actual penning (gives you an idea of my age, do...