This week I finished the primary writing on my new book. The working titles now are limited to: Grip of Terror or In the Shadow of Fear. It is my first true crime effort and I’m quite pleased with how the book feels and reads. I saved the footnotes for the last – always a pain. I swore in college I would never write footnotes again. Now here I am, doing it as part of my second career.
|The bomb damage at the Tasty Cafe (author's collection)|
This book is a game-changer for me because it introduces me to a new writing genre. True Crime books have always fascinated me and the chance to write one has been wonderful. It’s one of the genre’s I read quite a bit of. I am already working on two others if you can believe that, another set in my home town too. I’m expecting a bundle of research material in the next two weeks from the Michigan State Police archives which will keep me busy for months. I still plan on writing military history and sci-fi, this simply offers me another area to write in; one I’m passionate about.
This book has me jazzed on a lot of levels. One of the more interesting things I tried with this book is to introduce the town as a character. Marshall Michigan has a distinct personality and culture. I wanted people to feel that the community itself was part of the story. Don’t read too much into this. It’s not a speaking character – but it is one of the key players in the drama that unfolded in 1967. If you’ve ever visited Marshall, chances are you understand what I am talking about. It is a place that is special in my heart and in many ways reflects every small town in America. When people read this book they will find themselves reflecting on how this small town is like ones they are familiar with.
I incorporated a lot of period pieces to transport the reader back to Marshall in 1967. I talked about the headlines, whether it was the Redskins playing the Beavers for football or which movie was playing at the Bogar theater…I used these devices to set the feeling, tone, and time. I did some neat things as well about the passage of time and how it is measured in this little town. It is interesting to read the headlines from 1967 to 1970 and see how things changed, from the font of the newspaper to the stories about a little place called Vietnam which went from being a sidebar to a headline article.
I enjoyed the key characters well. Enoch Chism, the murderer in this case, really was a new kind of evil. The investigators of this crime, men like Fred Ritchie and Detective Kenney really relied on old-fashioned police work to solve the crime. Part gut-instinct, part experience, part skill. I hope that I was able to do “justice” (pun intended) to all parties involved.
You might think there is a moment of celebration when the book is done but that isn’t the case. First, it needs to go for a review read and there may be changes that come out of that. Second, there will be edits from the copy-edit process that I will need to do (hopefully minor). Then there’s a “final pass” edit, what we used to call a blue-line edit, which is a review of the book in its final form. I do get excited a little bit when I see the artist mock up of the cover, mostly because it’s interesting to see how a graphics person interprets what the book is about. Truthfully I don’t get to celebrate until the actual book arrives and is in my little hands. Up until that point, a lot can happen. When I hold the physical book, then I know it’s real.
So…any questions? Which title do you like?