Wednesday, March 09, 2011
New Books: Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey; Behold The Child Harry Shannon
New Books: Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey
Lake Charles is my new title. This is its story. Like a slew of other writers’ books, mine has bounced around over the past eight years. Agents, publishers, editors, and readers have had their fingerprints on it. Recounting its exact history is almost impossible. One vivid memory stands out. I sat editing the early manuscript while my wife underwent a gall bladder operation. I had to do something to distract me.
The waiting area was one of those dim bullpens in a big city hospital smelling of Pine Sol. Later I ate lunch—egg salad sandwich with Dr. Pepper—still cranking away on Lake Charles in the renovated cafeteria. Her surgeon was an intense cuss who sketched me a diagram of the nifty procedure he’d used. I thanked him. She did fine. And Lake Charles moved on to its next gestation period.
One publisher paying real money up front turned down looking at Lake Charles because the characters smoked joints. On the other hand, gory homicides seemed to be okay with them. The manuscript, my records show, was also mailed out to a dozen literary agents requesting to see it. Years later, they’ve yet to get back to me. Hey, I know. Things get busy. Life intrudes. But we all carry on.
Tired of seeing cell phones used everywhere (remember party lines?), I anchored Lake Charles in the 1970s. That time period didn’t vary through the revisions. As for the setting in the Great Smoky Mountains , I drew on a few of my experiences hiking 150 miles through the Smokies as a kid. It was a golden age to be young. I can recall the songs, the vibes, and the hopes. Then Nixon was elected, but I digress. This is about Lake Charles , after all.
Somebody tipped me off literary novels are supposed to use dreams, and I dig the literary stuff, so I wove a dream sequence into Lake Charles . My main character Brendan Fishback is in the throes of a marijuana detox, so he’s endowed with a rich dream life. That’s one of the side effects, I researched. I also heard literary novels include letters, so I used a key letter that Brendan receives near Lake Charles ’s ending.
People have pointed out Lake Charles is already located in Louisiana . Is it? At the time of my writing, I didn’t realize that. A manmade lake becomes my novel’s setting, and I needed a name fast, so I cribbed my middle name. I have a first cousin Charles, as was my grandfather’s younger brother, so we’ve got a family legacy there to lay claim to.
Ed invited me to write this post for his great blog. I love reading about the older noirs and hardboiled titles (Charles Williams, Ed Lacy, etc.). Lake Charles has been called “Appalachian noir,” a term John Lescroart coined when blurbing my previous book, The Blue Cheer, set in the wilds of West Virginia . If any of my books provides any entertainment bang for the reader’s buck, I’m humbled and thrilled at the same time. So, I’ll close by saying my thanks.
Lake Charles is now up for pre-orders at Amazon. The publication date is set for June 15, 2011.
----------------------TOP SUSPENSE GROUP, HARRY SHANNON
Behild the Child .99 on Kindle
"BEHOLD THE CHILD" first appeared in the Cemetery Dance anthology "Brimstone Turnpike." Sam Kenzie is an LAPD cop who can't escape his obsession with a serial killer due to demons of his own...
"Behold the Child", by Harry Shannon, is the perfect mix of classic Noir and the supernatural. A maverick, burned-out cop haunted by his last city case ignores advice and a "wrong" turn en route to his retirement gig in the isolated desert town of his youth. It's dark, brooding, and reminds us that unfortunately, not everyone takes advantage of divine second chances."