Tell us about the road you took, to publish your first novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
Imagine THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy––a dark, devastated wasteland (the publishing world), wandering (querying), starving, being stalked by hungry survivors with cannibalistic intentions (agents), but somehow making it to a stronghold of resisters (Random House). That pretty much sums it up.
How do you approach writing historical fiction?
I always start with a premise then dive into the research. The book I’m working on now is set between the two worlds fairs in Seattle (1909 and 1962), so my office is littered with old newspapers, books, yearbooks, maps, programs, sheet music, photos—you name it. I tend to hoard “stuff” and then notate it all for reference. Then once I feel immersed in that world (I stop just shy of wearing a vintage suit and banging away on a manual typewriter), the writing begins…
What are you working on now?
I don’t have a title yet, but it’s a novel about a boy who was raffled off at the 1909 worlds fair in Seattle (true story). And no one knows what happened to him. So I’m telling his tale. Also, it’s a love story. I even start the book by saying that. Here’s the opening paragraph in all its unedited glory:
This is a love story. Those are the words Ernest Young read aloud to no one in the dusty, single-volume library of his mind. As he sat alone, perched on the corner of his crisply-made twin bed, waiting for a reporter to show up, he thought about what to tell this curious stranger—what to leave in, what to leave out, and what bits he could stitch together to hide the details of his peculiar childhood. Ernest straightened his tie. He’d never been good at distorting the truth, except once, when he told a perfect, one-carat lie to the person he’d loved the most––a deception that’s lasted more than forty years.
Check Back June 15 for Part II