Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Every story has a story.

More than twenty years ago, one of my co-workers at the Florida Department of Education showed me a photo she had taken of an old, abandoned church she had discovered in a wooded area near her home. It was a creepy picture, dark and viney, like something you might find in an Edgar Allan Poe story. You could almost feel the dried bat dung on the rope in the creaking bell tower. I remember her saying, "This would make a good setting for a horror novel, wouldn't it?"

For the rest of the day, I thought about that question, and that night I sat down and wrote part of the first chapter and a few ideas for characters and future chapters. I gave them to her the next day.

My co-worker was Anne Petty, who is now an established writer of dark fantasy novels and stories, a world-renowned J. R. R. Tolkien scholar, and the publisher of Kitsune Press. The book would be called Hell and High Water.

For the next six months or more, the two of us wrote on the book, little by little, meeting often in the conference room where we would spread out our chapters and notebooks and discuss motivation, direction, description, characterization. and all the other intricacies that make up a well-told story. We generally wrote alternating chapters, then discussed them and made constructive criticism. We didn't always see eye to eye but were always able to compromise on the language. And most of the time the compromise turned out to be better than either of our original suggestions.

The rigors of sending to literary agents and publishers got the best of us quickly, and the book went into our respective desk drawers and computer files (floppy disks, then). But that didn't stop us from continuing to write together. Over the next two years we planned and completed two additional novels connected to the first not so much by character, but by locale--the north Florida Gulf Coast, with all its myths and legends. The two additional novels in what we have always called "The North Florida Trilogy" are titled Museum Piece and Time Piece. They too, after brief tussles with agents, were consigned to invisible segments on a floppy.

Until now. With the increasing popularity of the e-book--and the fact that we're not as young as we once were--Anne and I realize that we finally have a chance to get these three novels out to readers. All three have been fiercely edited and rewritten over the years into a form we both are excited about. Hell and High Water is the first of the novels to appear in e-book form, and is available on Amazon and (where, when you purchase it, you own it (and all revisions) forever, in all formats. It is inexpensive (about a quarter of what you'd pay for a new paperback) and readable not only on e-book reading devices such as Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks, but on your computer screen as well.

Oddly, Hell and High Water did not end up as a horror novel. We call it, instead, literary suspense, as are Museum Piece and Time Piece, which are currently undergoing Anne's final review. They will appear at intervals in the upcoming months. We will, of course, let you know in our blogs and facebook pages, so stay tuned.

I think that, after so much waiting, the books deserve to be read.

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