Draft 16, more than a year in, and still not quite there. This novel is a big leap forward for me in complexity of the plot, depth of the characters, and size of the world, so it’s taking me some time to wrap it up. Still, it’s far enough along that I think a final draft will be in the hands of beta readers by end of August.
“His parents had fought a war before he was born, a war that had ended in a peace so fragile that to acknowledge its existence could cause it to shatter, so no one ever discussed it. But the battlefield had still lain between them; she sat on her side, he sat on his. And Joe sat out in the middle, between the trenches, in the scorched dirt. The hole at the center of his house had been a hole at the center of his parents and one day the hole had found the center of Joe.”
From Live By Night by Dennis Lehane, a novel about Boston gangsters in the 1920s. Dennis Lehane’s next book, World Gone By, comes out on March 10.
My friends, I am proud to present to you my first new release since Bonding Ritual. As has been hinted at on this web site for months, this new release is not a novel, but instead, is a transmedia form of storytelling that makes you the protagonist in a story about someone running for his life!
The story is titled The Tetradome Run, and it is available as an in-app purchase through the Runtastic app. Watch the video below to learn more about what this is and how it works!
Here’s more information on The Tetradome Run, courtesy of a Q&A on the Runtastic blog.
Q: What is “The Tetradome Run” Story Run about?
A: The Tetradome Run is a series of three Runtastic Story Runs where you become a contestant who must run for your life in a giant arena where death is a spectator sport.
Q: Death? Is someone trying to kill me in these Story Runs?
A: Not someone so much as something. The Tetradome Run takes place in a universe where prisoners run from all sorts of terrible monsters in a spectacle put on for the amusement of the masses. When you put on your headphones and start these Story Runs, you become a prisoner in the Tetradome, and can expect to be chased.
Q: What kind of monsters will chase me?
A: In Episode 1, you will face three distinct challenges in the Tetradome. In the first challenge, you and other prisoners race to stay ahead of a pack of genetically enhanced wolves. In the second challenge, you run through a forest, where mysterious creatures lurk out in the distance. The third challenge has the most hideous monsters of all. You’ll have to listen, and run, to find out what they are.
Q: If I outrun these monsters, do I win The Tetradome Run?
A: Yes, but as you’ll find out in Episode 1, you’ve got more on your mind than simply winning. You aren’t just any contestant in this race. You are a contestant who is working with a group of rebels to accomplish something much greater than victory in the Tetradome.
Q: Are these Story Runs designed to make me do an interval training run, like the other story runs?
A: Yes. If you run to these stories, you will naturally complete a nearly 40-minute interval training run. Without even trying, you will find yourself running faster when the story gets more intense, and relaxing a bit when the story lets up. You’ll also find the narration giving you the encouragement you need to keep going at all the critical moments. When you’re most tired, the Story Run will act as a coach for you, telling you to dig deeper and find the energy to keep going. And if you make it to the end, the music and story will match your feeling of accomplishment.
Q: How do I begin?
A: Step one, of course, is to put the Runtastic app on your phone. Story Runs are available in both the free version of Runtastic and the PRO version. Once you bring up the Runtastic app, select the Story Running tab in your drawer, then download “The Tetradome Run”. When the audio starts playing in your headphones, you start running. The Runtastic app will do the rest for you.
Those of you who follow my Facebook page know that I, like millions of other readers, have been reading The Girl on the Train this week.
I just finished. I thought it was a fun read with a well-constructed plot, but I also think the frequent comparisons in the media to Gone Girl are a little much. That book gave us two misanthropes in a nasty fight that started at the beginning and accelerated all the way to the end. This novel is completely different.
Yes, The Girl on The Train is a dark, suspenseful mystery about domestic angst, and the plot is built on surprises and big twists, much like Gone Girl. But really, the more apt comparison for this novel is Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Like that movie, this story is about a depressed loner whose unhealthy interest in other people’s lives gets her wrapped up in something much bigger than her.
Here’s the book blurb:
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
The story is intertwining first person narration, and our primary narrator (Rachel) isn’t entirely reliable. An alcoholic with a history of drunken blackouts, Rachel doesn’t trust her own memory, so we don’t either. Author Paula Hawkins has fun dancing around the big reveal in this story, and I enjoyed the way she teased at it until the end. Things we need to know are locked away in the memories of several characters. Some get revealed late because our narrator can’t remember them. Some get revealed late just because the author’s having fun.
I had fun too. I can see why so many readers stayed up late finishing this novel. I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who likes a good thriller or a good mystery.
“Gulls wheel through spokes of sunlight over gracious roofs and dowdy thatch, snatching entrails at the marketplace and escaping over cloistered gardens, spike-topped walls, and triple-bolted doors. Gulls alight on whitewashed gables, creaking pagodas, and dung-ripe stables; circle over towers and cavernous bells and over hidden squares where urns of urine sit by covered wells, watched by mule drivers, mules, and wolf-snouted dogs, ignored by hunchbacked makers of clogs; gather speed up the stoned-in Nakashima River and fly beneath the arches of its bridges, glimpsed from kitchen doors, watched by farmers walking high, stony ridges. Gulls fly through clouds of steam from laundries’ vats; over kites unthreading corpses of cats; over scholars glimpsing truth in fragile patterns; over bathhouse adulterers; heartbroken slatterns; fishwives dismembering lobsters and crabs; their husbands gutting mackeral on slabs; woodcutters’ sons sharpening axes; candlemakers rolling waxes; flint-eyed officials milking taxes; etiolated lacquerers; mottled-skinned dyers; imprecise soothsayers; unblinking liars..”
From page 451 of the hardback edition of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell, who is so damned good that if he wants to describe 18th century Japan in beautiful verse, right in the middle of a rip-roaring novel, he does. “Over kites unthreading corpses of cats” in particular is a line that is at once, amazing and a little disheartening to someone like me, who’s been writing fiction for more than twenty years. I think for most any of us writing books, reading a David Mitchell novel is simultaneously a breathtaking experience and a reminder that there is at least one person out there who is a hell of a lot better at writing books than we are.
David Mitchell’s latest novel, The Bone Clocks, is the most highly praised novel of 2014. It’s on my TBR pile. I’m sure I’ll be saying something about it here when I get to it.
Hi Friends. The smart phone release I’ve been talking about in previous posts is inching closer to an official release date. Might be as soon as next month. Check back for updates. Once I’m certain the date is set, I’ll give more details here and on the Facebook page. In a nutshell…my next story isn’t for your eyes, but for your ears, with professionally produced sound effects and original music. I’m excited to tell you more in the very near future.
Until then, here’s a book you might like.
I remember making a mental note about Bird Box after the initial announcement of its sale to Harper Collins at auction. This one just sounded interesting. A world where looking outside makes you go insane? How wonderfully frightening and weird!
The novel was released earlier this year to good reviews and with news about a movie deal. I put it on my Kindle…and then promptly lost track of it amidst my bloated and bulging to-be-read pile.
Last month I saw that the Bird Box screenplay made The Black List, an annual Hollywood compilation of not-yet-produced screenplays that producers really love. Seeing it there reminded me that I hadn’t read the book yet. I started and finished it on the same day. Don’t you love that?
Bird Box is a clever, fun horror novel I recommend to people who liked Wool or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Post-apocalyptic, mysterious, unique, very original, suspenseful, and well-written. If you like horror novels, download the sample on this one. $1.99 for Kindle right now.
In the last post I hinted at some possible news about an upcoming release. Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet. My next release will start not as an eBook, but as an in-app purchase for a popular smart phone app. We have elected to hold off on that release until 2015, so look for news here after Christmas.
Until then, here are two quick book recommendations. Of the many books that came and went off my nightstand this winter, these two were my favorite.
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes. A detective novel that explores the relationship between the decay of our urban life and our thriving online sphere, with a very original supernatural twist. Set in Detroit, the book explores the beauty and darkness of the broken-down, partially abandoned cities of old industrial America, treating them both as art and (to use a phrase from the book) ‘ruin porn.’ Recommended for people who like smart, literary thrillers.
The Drop by Dennis Lehane. Lehane’s newest, published last September, had an interesting path to publication. It started as a failed novel about a man who stumbles into a mob plot when he rescues a dog. Unable to make the story work as a novel the first time, Lehane turned the first chapter into a short story for a magazine. That short story got some people in Hollywood so excited they pushed him to make it into a screenplay, which eventually became a movie starring James Gandolfini and Tom Hardy. This novel is an adapted version of that screenplay.
With all that roundabout, I might have left this one on the shelf, except for the fact that Lehane is one of my favorite writers. I picked this up last week and tore through it. It’s one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. Short, concise, intense, and beautiful, this story focuses on a small group of people in Boston whose stale lives grow more intense after one of them makes the decision to pull a nearly dead pit bull puppy out of a trash can. This is a must for people who like Denis Lehane, and highly recommended to anyone who likes crime fiction and mob stories.
A new Stephen King novel is out this week. I’ll be reading it…eventually. I love that guy. He’s so much a part of my childhood, and I’m impressed and inspired that over the past 10 years, he’s really been in a sort of renaissance. Mr. Mercedes and 11/22/63 (the JFK novel) were both Top 10 King books for me…I think. Maybe that’s a future post — a full ranking of the King books, or at least best and worst. Anyway, if you read this new one, email me or comment here to tell me what you thought.
Amazon and Hachette have ended their dispute. Amazon will allow Hachette to control their pricing on Amazon, but will reward them with more margin for books that sell at lower prices.
The title and jacket have been announced on the new book by Brian Selznick, author and illustrator of the amazing book Hugo. Due out next year, it will be called The Marvels.
This week or next, I might have some news of my own on an upcoming release. Watch this space, or like the Facebook page. I’ll put it in both spots. Until then, have a great weekend everyone!