Before 2011, penning a novel was something I never thought I could do. Dreamspinner Press will release Whippersnapper, my fourth novel, on January 29th. I’m proud of all my stories, but I have to admit, Whippersnapper is a sentimental favorite.
Each of my four novels has challenged my writing ability and pushed me out of my comfort zone. In every case, writing the story from beginning to end came down to three essential elements: inspiration, motivation, and challenges.
Everything about writing Until Thanksgiving was a challenge. My motivation was to write a novel. Inspiration came from when I lived in DC. Before the end of my first draft, the story changed direction and even genre several times. Be that as it may, I wrote a novel.
The first time is the hardest. Getting a publishing contract for Until Thanksgiving was a huge confidence builder. I can do this!
A comment Philip Potter makes in Until Thanksgiving about a lover who’d committed suicide thirty years earlier was the inspiration for my second novel, After Christmas Eve (to be re-released by Dreamspinner Press Publications in April as No Good Deed). The challenge was writing a story that takes place in the 1960s. What I learned through my research motivated me to show how much gay life has changed in the last fifty years.
Happy Independence Day was inspired by the 1969 Stonewall riots. Much of what I thought I knew about this historic event turned out to be wrong. A desire to tell the story behind the riots was my motivation. Getting things right was a priority and a challenge. Building a character-driven story around an actual historical event was a huge challenge.
Parts of my first three books are dark and gritty. Some characters experience abuse. People get killed. Serial killers and Mafia hit men keep the suspense level high. Readers keep reading to see if the hero lives or dies.
Before I started working on Whippersnapper, I had no idea how hard my first three novels had been to write. Rather than educating readers, my motivation for writing Whippersnapper was simply to entertain.The story takes place in Fallisville — a fictional central Kentucky town. I got to make up everything and had no need to worry about getting the details right.
Inspiration came from Charlie Cochet, who suggested I write a contemporary story about a May-September romance. My motivation was a desire to write a funny, heart-warming story. The challenge was to keep the reader turning the page without a serial killer or the Mafia lurking in the background.
Tellumo Magnamater is overwhelmed by the demands of his first teaching job. Exercising at the Fit as a Fiddle gym every day is part of his healthy lifestyle. He has a thing for older men and has been admiring a handsome older man he sees at the gym for months.
That man is retired history teacher Oliver Crumbly. Single again after a string of failed relationships, he has no use for anything — or anyone — less than 30 years old. He vents his anger at the world by exercising at the gym and writing letters of complaint to corporations, government offices, and elected officials. You might say he’s a crotchety old man.
Middle-aged Peggy Tucker is a widow, a long-time employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles, and an active member of the Trinity Baptist Church altar society. Motivated by her desire to land another husband, she joins the gym to lose twenty pounds and sets her sites on Mr. Crumbly, the handsome man she sees there.
I love the story. The ending was clear to me from the very beginning, but the journey to get there involved a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Genre lines were crossed. In the end, Whippersnapper is a feel-god story about relationships–with family, friends, and love.