Exactly two years, 351 days, and 12 hours ago, my sister asked if I was ever going to let her read my manuscripts. I told her no, that I wanted her to have the joy of reading the books when they were published. (There is a vast difference between a manuscript and a book.) Back then, off course, it was still wishful thinking; no one had the slightest interest in publishing my books. Well, hell froze over or something equally cataclysmic, and now she owns two of my published books — books, not manuscripts. Here is a transcript of our spate of emails.
SISTER: The weekend was unexpectedly glorious, so I spent most of it outdoors, lots of yard work, digging in the dirt, reworking some landscaping, plus a wonderfully relaxing picnic at a bayside park. Ahhh. I didn’t spend nearly as much time reading More Deaths Than One as I thought I would, but . . . when I left Bob and Kerry on Sunday night, they were on a plane heading to Thailand, and I’m certainly looking forward to hearing all about what they find. I had a fabulous time traipsing around Denver with them — all those familiar sights and sounds. What a kick. What a gift. Thank you.
I’m curious about so many things, and I’m not sure if it’s tacky or tactless to voice these to the author, but . . . Did you ever see tin-hat folks on Colfax Ave?
ME: No, it’s not tacky to ask. Yes, I did see a foil-helmet guy on Colfax once.
SISTER: Bob’s childhood home was on 22nd, not 23rd?
ME: I don’t remember why 22nd Avenue instead of 23rd (where we grew up).
SISTER: Is it OK if I believe I found myself in your book as a two-liner behind-the-scenes character? Because, gosh, a BMW sure would be a nice upgrade for me.
ME: (After checking the manuscript to see what she was talking about) How funny, the BMW character does sound like you. What was I thinking??!!! Maybe . . . thinking of you? To be honest, I don’t have any idea. It’s like the book isn’t a part of me anymore. I don’t know where even a fraction of it came from. I do remember piecing it all together, though, and I remember all the rewrites. It was the first book I wrote, the third, the fifth, so it wasn’t inspired. It was perspired, but still, I don’t remember.
SISTER: Wow — that “Ballad of Reading Gaol” definitely merits closer study, whew. Best critique I read of that Wilde work is: “. . . startling contrasts between light and shade, drawn together with a keen eye and a sense of the beauty in sadness itself.” Lots there. I’m curious how you found the link between your novel and your title . . .?
ME: Originally the book was entitled The Law of the Jungle. Then I decided that title was trite, so I re-titled it The Nature of the Beast. Then I came across that stanza from Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol, and had to have More Deaths Than One. Too perfect.
SISTER: Do you realize this novel would make an awesome movie??
ME: Yes, I do know the book would make an awesome movie. There are some scenes that would be powerful visuals.
SISTER: And I have to say — the first time “hidden shallows” appeared on the page, I heard your voice loud and clear. What a quintessential uniquely clever Pat phrase!
This has been great fun so far. Looking forward to more, that’s for sure.
ME: I take it that you’re not disappointed in me/my writing, or feeling guilty for telling your friends about the book.
SISTER: That would be a resounding enthusiastic “damn straight, Sista!”
ME: Just out of curiosity — was it bizarre reading a sex scene written by your sister?
SISTER: Um, YES. But I was proud at the same time — that was hot, quite frankly, and I learned something new. ;D
ME: Maybe I should interview you for my blog!!! Could be interesting. Though I have purposely left my private life off of it.
SISTER: How about this: you could write out a list of questions for your little sister, I’ll pen my answers — and if you like how it sounds, you can post it on your blog . . . if you think “not”, you don’t.
ME: List of questions? That was my question! A one-question interview.
SISTER: Well then, I’m done for the day! You have my permission to post the “interview” as it actually happened.
ME: I took liberties and posted our whole exchange. It was too good to pass up. So, welcome to my blog!