Folks quite often ask how long it takes for me to write a book. As I’ve just finished the First Draft of DARK HOLLOW ROAD, I thought I’d use that as an example to answer the question. It just so happens I know exactly when the idea, the title at least, came to me, September 22, 2014.
We were driving through the wilds of eastern Pennsylvania just minding our own business, stopping at various junk and antique shops and enjoying the fall foliage when we zoomed by a small side road that led even further and deeper into those wilds. The road sign read, “Dark Hollow Road”. I laughed and said, “If that’s not the title of a book, I don’t know what is.” At the time I had no idea what that future book would be about. I had other things in the works. My Muse, who for some odd reason I envision as a dark, mysterious version of Tinker Bell, would do what she does best and find out what the story deal was and get back to me later.
She did so in June of 2015 by introducing me to Mary Alice Brown and her family. I started out writing exclusively from her first person perspective. I knew I wanted to keep her world, which in the context of the book starts in 1948, very separate from what was going on today so contained all of that to the odd-numbered chapters. I’d written at least five odd-numbered chapters before having a clue what the ones in between would contain.
One day, six-year-old Brandon Evenson showed up. He got me going on what would be happening in the modern even-numbered chapters. By October of 2015 I’d written sixteen chapters. In January 2016 I was forced to draw up a timeline to keep track of the two sections running simultaneously. In April 2016, I was sitting alone at a small campfire I had going in my backyard. As I sat there pondering whatever it was I was pondering, along came this old, slightly grouchy looking man. He introduced himself as Lee Yagar and told me who knew a fair amount about Dark Hollow Road, but had never been too keen on talking about it to anyone. He didn’t live there, but he knew the Brown family. That’s all he had to share. It wasn’t very informative, but it was something.
Then, last night, August 9, almost two years after we drove by that Dark Hollow Road sign, I typed the final, very satisfying sentence that ended it all. So, there’s your answer as far as getting to the end of the first draft to DARK HOLLOW ROAD goes. Of course there’s still a whole lot of editing and proof reading to do on it, but it’s written. It will likely be another year before it sees the like of day.
Normally there are at least two books in progress at the same time. They are at very different stages along the creation process timeline which is why it seems like I’ve come out with two new titles, rewrite and re-release a previous title, and finish a first draft for a fourth all in a year’s time. It really took a lot longer than that, but you get the idea.
I’ll take a break for a while. I’ll try to at least. Sometimes the Muse gets over-zealous and doesn’t allow that break. Sometimes she takes annoyingly long naps. She’s quite unpredictable.
Today after I have the first draft of DHR printed up, I’ll put it aside until after we get back from our honeymoon in September. I’ll give it a once over, make my own corrections, then hand it off to my editor friend who will have it for a few months more. The idea is that once I see it again, my eyes will be fresher and my mind will have maybe forgotten a thing or two. Makes it easier to spot errors that way.
As another example, NO REST FOR THE WICKED which is coming out this September, I started to write the summer of 2011!! It all depends on the book and what’s going on in the rest of my life, I guess.
Last night I was trying to figure out how to explain what it feels like when I type that last sentence in a novel. It never fails that I think, “I like it!” I wish I smoked so I could lean back and savor the moment. Maybe it’s like very satisfying sex, that instant when all is said and done and the parties involved lay back and bask in the afterglow of their passion. It’s definitely a mental high.
Not five minutes later I’m thinking, “What’s next? Now what do I do?”
Indeed, what do I do next? For now, nothing. Focus on the wedding, enjoy the honeymoon, and maybe getting that back deck finished up.
Stretch and breathe before taking a ride on … THE WITCH’S BACKBONE.
<wicked evil grin>