Driving 4,950 miles makes for plenty of writing time if you want it to. Best Beloved and I spent a few hours writing smells, sounds, and other sensory whatnots for anodyne, the first Jesse Donovan book.
When I started writing I made a classic beginner’s mistake: my first three male leads were all the same and they were all me. This is where it’s good to have an editor willing to say “Maybe people would like to read about someone else for a change?”
Prompted me to interview Web, Phil, and Jesse to see who they really were.
In Through the Fog and Into the Fog (and eventually From the Fog) Web Martin is a regular joe, guy next door type. If you did, in fact, live next door to him in Los Angeles, the only thing you’d notice about him might be his frequent travel.
The first sentence of A Long, Hard Look that rattled in my head for 25 years made it clear that Phil Brennan was a drinker. The next few sentences make it clear that he’s not happy about that, but he’s moved on and tried to make some kind of life despite the black cloud that seems to own him.
Yeah, yeah, they’re both still me. The external persona and the dark painful stuff I deal with every day.
But there’s at least one more portrait that’s as true as the others; truer, I think: Jesse Donovan is a warm and sensitive guy who notices what people wear, notices the scent of a woman’s hair when he’s holding the door or pulling out a chair for her. Notices, and remembers when it’s time to buy her a gift.
When the diner booths are leather, old and worn, rather than Naugahyde, he leaves a bigger tip. His Beemer is one of the small entry-level 3-Series, but it gives him pleasure to drive it because it’s fast, fun, well-made, and has an exquisite sound system that makes anything from Rimsky-Korsakov to Pat Metheny sound perfect.
Far from being elitist or snobby, he loves the company of a hardworking craftsman and treats the unfortunate homeless who sleep near his favorite library with dignity.
He’s a good man, a kind, thoughtful, intelligent man.
So what happens to him hurts all the more.