Monday, April 12, 2010

By the dawn's early light

By David Heinzmann

The last couple times I’ve posted I’ve written about recent mob stories in the news. I don’t want to sound like too much of a broken record so I’ll just mention that there was another good one that broke on Friday. A trio of 70-year-old mob jewel thieves caught casing a bank and the house of another dead mobster. Read about it here, and follow the link to read the FBI affidavit for a search warrant. It’s pretty entertaining. And crime writers will find the details of the affidavit intriguing, and maybe even useful.

Anyway, I’ve started writing a new book while I wait to see what’s going to happen to Book 2, which is a sequel to A Word To The Wise. If it sounds like I’m overly productive, don’t be misled. This second book had been mostly written a few years ago, but I set the revisions and rewriting aside for a loooong time once A Word To The Wise was picked up for publication and I had all sorts of editing and other stuff to do.

Over the last few months, I’ve finally gotten the revisions done, and I’m on to the next one. I’ve been messing around with a plot line and a few characters, and have the arc of the plot lined up solidly enough to start writing. I’m half way through the second chapter.

But moving directly into a new book has some special challenges this time around.

The first two books are both about a character named Augustine Flood, and writing about him had grown to feel pretty comfortable and familiar. But this next book is a departure. It is still set in Chicago, but there is no Flood. Most of the characters are Chicago cops, including the protagonist. I’m still finding my way with this character and fighting the urge to throw Flood’s name in there somewhere.

I have faith that once I’m a few more chapters into it the new story will take over and pull me along. But at the moment I’m still laboring to get out of the Augustine Flood mindset and into the new guy. I’m guessing some of you have had the same struggles, especially if you have written a standalone book or started a new character after a few in a series. Thoughts, experiences, advice?

Part of my problem is that I haven’t managed to string together a big block of time to write yet to get the pump primed for this book. I haven’t quite found the writing schedule that’s going to work for me this time around. I was originally a morning writer, but switched to a nighttime writer after we had a baby. Now my second kid is sleeping a little later some mornings, making me flirt with the idea of going back to being a morning writer. If I can keep everybody else in the house in bed until seven, I’ll gladly starting getting up at five to write.

Nights just aren’t working. Lately, I’ve just been too beat in the evenings to do much other than pour a drink and sit down with my wife to watch Damages and Justified. Speaking of which, Justified is sort of a delight if you like Elmore Leonard. It’s an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s character, Raylan Givens. Some of the dialogue and story lines are lifted from his books, but Leonard is also a producer of the show and the episodes feel a little like reading his books. (I shouldn’t be shilling for FX, but both of those shows are pretty good.)

Anyway, it’s 5:25 a.m. as I finish this and I’m about to start Chapter 3. Keep your fingers crossed for me that nobody under four feet tall wakes up in the next two hours.

And P.S., I wish I would have been more on top of the blog last week so I could have been the first person to comment on Bryan's blog about the powers that be evaluating stories by how well they're doing online. The tyranny of the clicks is reshaping the news. It's a frightening trend as media companies get more and more desperate waging a losing battle for online market share.

19 comments:

Dana King said...

I wrote four fist-person PI stories of what I hoped would become a series, then switched to a multi-POV standalone. I had less trouble switching gears for a different main character than I did with the overall voice. First-person PI can be introspective, the PI characterizing himself through his descriptions and reactions to what happens. The standalone required a whole different way of telling the story Took me several launches of the first few chapters before i was happy with it.

JUSTIFIED is a great show. I haven't watched any series regularly since THE WIRE went off the air, but the Beloved Spouse and I record JUSTIFIED every week and watch it over Wednesday's supper.

Kevin Guilfoile said...

That complaint is a great read, David, especially the part where they seem to be plotting to track down an alleged mob snitch by friending the snitch's kids on Facebook.

This is Scalise's second appearance here at The Outfit, incidentally. Just a few months before the Harris Bank heist in 2007, his name came up in relation to the discovery of the body of Bobby Cruz. I had information then that Scalise was in prison in Arizona, but that might have been wrong.

Thanks for the update.

David Heinzmann said...

Dana, glad we agree on Justified. I hope it develops into something consistently good.

Kevin, I thought you might like that most of that tale unfolded in a certain near-western suburb not unknown to you.

I love the image of these guys trying to drill their way into The Hook's house in Bridgeport and then telling the FBI agents who showed up that they were just walking to their jobs at McCormick Place.

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