Welcome to my Fiction Pages…
Below are descriptions of four novels (two finished, two in process). I have linked excerpts, and I hope you will explore them. Additionally, I write short fiction, including: Mattie Hornbecker’s Other Bag and Ghost Pine Lake, which will appear in Hauntings (Hic Dragones Press, 2014).
I have been writing storied since I was about twelve years old. I have written other novels, short stories and poetry between–but me young-adult Gothic story is the first, and the one I keep returning to. It may be that the locale is near and dear to me (sort of). It might be that the main character reminds me of a certain rash and brassy young woman of my, er, “acquaintance.” But in the years post MA work, during those tortured eviscerations they call dissertation-writing, I picked it back up. The text is now complete and has been making the rounds with agencies while I work on the sequel. See the corresponding page for an excerpt.
I made Jake’s acquaintance a few years ago, when I was a graduate student. I disagree with his sister’s pronouncement, of course, as there are no such things as vampires. However, Jake has a lot of explaining to do… and he does it best for himself. He’s written up three chronicles, covering his high school years which amounts to a novel-length manuscript. He has since moved on to college, and I understand that he’s kept up his journalism and his journaling. I am sure we will hear more from him. The Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles book one, High Stakes, is available from Cooperative Trade Press (release date April 2014). Excerpt here.
I have spoken at length about the way experience feeds writing (and my author interviews confirm it)–but often our experiences don’t translate point for point into fiction. To explain: I am a vivid dreamer. Really. I rarely go a night without some concoction of aliens, dragons, flying babies, talking bats and–my favorite–hot-air-balloons navigated by animated egg noodles (white and wheat varieties). Dreams are great siphons, translating our lived experience into strange polyglots of imaginative material. The Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles came from a dream (I thought I was watching the story on television). The main event sequence of Here Comes Troubelle also came from dream material. It’s hard to say what exactly from life caused me to imagine the complicated murder of a network producer, but there you have it.
The Here Comes Troubelle narrative is intended to be part of an ongoing series of semi-serious (partly “cozy”) mysteries, so I needed to create a team of characters that 1) would be easy to imagine and easy to draw from and 2) would be funny and compelling. Fiction, like charity, begins at home…so the husband and wife team are loosely based on myself and my husband, Mark. He’s the engineer. I’m the professor. But the characters depart pretty widely from the real after that: starting with home-base provided containers; since then, I have let the characters take root and flourish in the direction of the story. My husband has some investment in this one, though (of course), and so he is actually helping with the brain-storming process. For more, see Chapter One.
A few years ago, when I was facing down the Apollyon of PhD exams, I hatched a cunning plan. Why not give up on the intellectual evisceration and start an organic goat farm? You would be suprized how many grad students (and tenured faculty, for that matter) were ready to jump on board. We could make cheese. We could write intellectual sayings on the wrappers. A friend suggested she could bake bread–another volunteered to knit wool sweaters–still more suggested we could brew our own beer, monastery style.Why not? A pack of rogue intellectuals, forsaking the academy and trusting to luck, to courage, to collective knowledge about book history and comma splices… What could possibly go wrong?
Well. I passed the exams, and so never made the goat-herding plunge. I did, however, hatch a different kind of plan. I started work on the second of my novels for adults (rather than YA): Failed Intellectuals, Inc. Three young women from three fields (English, Sociology and Anthropology) escape the confines of the university to try their luck at farming. Knowing nothing abut making cheese, and still less about milking goats (who will always, always, always kick the milk pail over), they embark on a journey of rediscovering what matters. Everything goes wrong. Everything goes right. Hilarity ensures. An excerpt appears here.