I’ve been catching myself feeling somewhat melancholy lately in terms of the sales of my books. To say that they’ve trickled off some is an understatement. When I first released Twenty-Five at the Lip last November I saw an incredible sales drive that was hardly repeated when I released Tuesday’s Gone. In fact on the first day of Twenty-Five I sold eight copies, whereas on the first day of Tuesday I sold one. I’ve sold less than twenty copies of Tuesday’s Gone in total, so to say that my sophomore effort has become something of a bust is heartbreaking to say the least.
I had never intended to write a sequel to Twenty-Five at the Lip. The reason for that is because the lessons learned by those characters were intended to be life lessons. I’ve had a few people suggest plot lines for a sequel that would effectively undue everything that happens in Twenty-Five at the Lip. I love the characters, and that story with all its apparent faults is still my baby, so I would love more than anything to sit down for a year or so and cut open a few new veins and spill my guts about the ups and downs of privatized EMS. Maybe I could share a few more thoughts on the pitfalls of being a twenty-something who regularly works in the arenas of life and death.
My concern is that I won’t be able to produce The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather Part II. Most sequels fizzle like the last firework on the Fourth of July, barely making a striking impact on what has already been accomplished. I worry about the cursed lament, “He should have left it alone…”
Now what might sound like a contradiction is the fact that all my work is actually related. Twenty-Five at the Lip is related to Tuesday’s Gone, but that connection isn’t going to be realized until you all (hopefully) read Don’t Look Back in Anger. Just Say Maybe is a selfish indulgence on my part to bring more life to Ashley Barnes, the ER nurse who was tragically cut out of most of her glory from Twenty-Five at the Lip. Just Say Maybe is her story, but not even a current era story of her. Rather it deals with her own background in the mid-1990s and how she discovers that she wants to be a nurse.
Valerie LeClaire has a couple of cameos in Don’t Look Back in Anger, as well as Calvin and his mother Joanne. The story itself actually centers around the family of Richard Henry, the Bristol County EMS dispatcher and in particular his nephew Scott. Valerie’s guess that Richard has a daughter in Twenty-Five is totally spot on and we get to see how the story of his sister’s fake wedding ring which inspired Valerie unfolded.
Valerie will never go away, she’s much too important. Mischievous and independent women are the best sort to write about. I couldn’t put her in Tuesday’s Gone because that story takes place in 1924, a full 61 years before Valerie was even born. That’s where Mabel came from and if you read between the lines and look at the dynamics Valerie and Mabel are very similar people. I was able to play around a little with the idea of reincarnation, not that I think that Valerie is a reincarnation of Mabel, but there is a serious concept of energy transfer and I wonder if Valerie would have benefited from having a sister the way Mabel did. Maybe Valerie is who she is because she didn’t have a Sarah to keep her balanced. There’s another version of Valerie/Mabel in Sissy Duncan, but you’ll have to ask Jeremy Brinkett about her…
Writing is an incredible release on the soul. It’s intended to help evict painful experiences from your mind and share some of your best memories. The fact is though that not everyone is going to appreciate what you have to write and your sales are sometimes going to thin out so far that they hardly break one or two in the course of a week. This is the indie way many of us have chosen. I joke to my wife about the yacht we’ll have one day and my own statue beside Hemingway’s down in Key West, but the real reason I write isn’t for a living – I have a job for that. It’s the immortality that I want.
What it all breaks down to though, is that writing a book is hard work. I erase more than I save. I slave over sentences and paragraphs for hours, sometimes barely making progress beyond a few hundred words. If I don’t do that though you’ll never get close to the feeling that I want you to have when you read my work.
I’m not Hemingway or F. Scott and I most likely will never be, but that’s probably a good thing because both of those guys were horribly miserable people whose lives ended much sooner than they should have. They aren’t people we should want to emulate.
I need to keep in mind why I wanted to write in the first place. I had something to say and an interesting way to say it. It’s the Hero’s Journey told over and over since humans began telling stories. Stick to the need to put your feelings and inspirations down on record purely for the purposes of posterity. That is what is truly important.
Abandoned as an infant and adopted into a circus troop, Tuesday longs for a normal life outside the clutches of her cruel and degrading employer. While trained as a tumbler and aerialist, Tuesday’s eight year old body is covered in tattoos that are her trademark act in the sideshow. After a near-death experience, Tuesday sets out with a loyal companion in search of a normal life.
Set in the Prohibition-era American South, Tuesday’s Gone is a reflection of a bygone era, often misunderstood and misrepresented in popular culture. The underlying themes represent the culture of the day, as well as capturing the essence of the American spirit in a post-reconstruction setting.
Twenty-Five at the Lip is a year-long trip through the personal lives of three twenty-something paramedics struggling to navigate their relationships, sanity, and integrity. These young heroes come to find themselves struggling to maintain their sense of self and purpose in a quarter-life story written through the lens of EMS.