For such a happy-go-lucky guy, why do I feel the need to make my novels explore the darker side of humanity? I’ve never personally felt the desire nor inclination to do any of the things my antagonists do, but the depth of their depravity fascinates me.
Malefactor was darker beyond my wildest expectations with its depiction of human cruelty towards animals—and people. The story virtually wrote itself in a matter of three weeks in Feb/Mar 2016. Rewrites and editing took almost 7 times that long, but it was eventually released in late August that same year.
While writing the sequel, Transgressor, I had to put it away for several months after the first four to six chapters, before I could take up the story again. It was also too dark and twisted. The result was a better product compared to Malefactor, or so I’ve been told. Unfortunately, sales indicate otherwise.
So here I am, working on Underhanded, the third book in the Ren Gifford Mysteries. I had great intentions of making this book less gruesome and more lighthearted. First lesson learned: Great intentions get upstaged by harsh reality.
When only a couple of chapters in, I found fault in some of my story assumptions which resulted in a lot of internet research. That, in turn, led to significant rewrites. Now I’m closing in on chapter five, having removed at least two characters and reduced the presence of two more. It was getting crowded in there!
However, I’m going to resist the urge to rush the process and plod along at my own pace. I’m not as prolific as some authors we love. (Not to mention any names, but Connie Suttle, Connie Suttle, Connie Suttle—to name a few of my favorites).
Thus, the second lesson learned: Detective fiction requires facts that can be corroborated; fantasy does not.
That bears repeating. Detective fiction requires facts that can be proven, which means I have to research what I’m writing about to avoid looking like an idiot. Fantasy, on the other hand, is at the complete mercy of its creator. I’m not saying fantasy is any easier to write, because it certainly takes a much more vivid imagination than I have.
Third lesson learned: There may be a change in genres (and writing styles) in my future… Just sayin’. (Call me lame, call me lazy, just don’t call me late for dinner.)
In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed the first two books and will be patient for the third. It’s a time-consuming process for me, but I want it to be the best story I can produce, for me—and you.