Monday, April 29, 2013

Me and Teddy

Yes, another long blog silence. All apologies.

See, I’ve been working on this book. And when I say working – let me now take a moment to lower the Cone of Self-Pity – I mean work!

 There are days I wish I had the writer’s equivalent of a taxicab meter. Something that would publicly state: “Here’s how many miles he’s traveled … how many words he’s logged….” I’ve been self-employed for a LONG time, but I still labor under the aegis of an invisible boss, who’s watching my comings and goings, filing away observations for my next performance review.

And if this invisible boss really does exist, he/she knows: I’ve been working.

The book I’ve just finished is called ROOSEVELT’S BEAST. It’s slated to come out next winter with Henry Holt. It takes place in 1914, and it’s about what happens when a certain ex-president (we’ll call him Teddy) decides to take his grown son down an uncharted river through the heart of the Amazonian jungle.

So far we’re squarely in the realm of fact: Teddy Roosevelt really did embark on such a journey with his son Kermit. But my book quickly diverges into some combination of alternative history, mystery, horror and psychological thriller … before hightailing it back to reality.

 I don’t honestly know what genre to call it. I just know it’s not quite like anything I’ve ever done before. And that excites and terrifies me in equal measure.

Which, in my experience, is a sign it was worth writing.

Indeed, the thrill of the unknown is one of the main reasons I don’t write series (series-es, I desperately want to say, but the damn word is its own plural). I’ve had lovely requests from readers to furnish new adventures for Vidocq and Tim Cratchit and Henry Cavendish and even Gus Landor. And never say never, and who knows what might happen? But, odd as it sounds, what wakes me up in the morning is the possibility that I might fail.

Is that weird? What I mean, I guess, is I love going somewhere I haven’t been – and, with luck, taking readers with me.

So I sincerely hope you’ll follow me down the Rio da Dúvida (aka the River of Doubt) to see just what happens to Teddy and Kermit.

I’ll have more information to share as the book crawls closer to its pub date. But I did want to thank all of you friends and readers (I don’t separate the two categories) who’ve taken the time to drop me nice notes along the way. Writing a book is always a shot in the dark, so to know that something I’ve written has actually landed — with someone somewhere — is very close to being the best feeling in the world and buoys me up through those long, long, long days when it’s just me and the invisible boss.

More soon! And thanks for sticking with me.