I am pleased to welcome Allan J. Emerson to Escape With Dollycas today! His book
Death of a Bride and Groom was just released on May 20.
Allan J. Emerson: Becoming a storyteller:
From the time I was 7 or 8, I made up stories to tell my younger brother.
I was a very obliging storyteller: if a character died or lost his magic powers and my brother didn’t like that, I usually changed the plot until he was satisfied. Occasionally I resisted, if what he wanted was going to ruin the story. (Turned out to be good practice for dealing with editors later on.) When I grew older, I wanted to be a singer, which seemed like just another type of storytelling to me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sing, so my next idea was to be an actor. Unfortunately … you guessed it.
The one thing that always made sense to me was word spinning–I loved words and the ways they could be put together to make a story. It never occurred to me that this could be for anything other than my own entertainment, or that people actually did this as an occupation. So I got a job to pay the bills and continued to write when I could.
I began by writing literary short stories, which has to be the toughest market for any writer, let alone an unpublished one. They were all rejected, with once in a while an encouraging note sent with a returned manuscript. Although I never got anything published, I did learn a lot by writing those stories.
After collecting a box of rejection slips (and why do writers save those, I wonder) I began to think about writing a novel, but it seemed a gigantic task, akin to the 50-year undertaking to carve a mountain into the likeness of Crazy Horse. Still, one day I sat down and started with one scene: the discovery of a pair of bodies dressed in wedding clothes on top of a parade float. The result wasn’t “literary” but it was fun.
I wish I could say it all came easily after that, but the truth is it took a long time. I wrote off and on, deleted chunks that didn’t work, then figured out how to make them work and put them back, then took them out again and substituted something else. Gradually, the material began to take shape. The characters assumed form, inhabited their world and started to act with purpose.
Eventually I had Death of a Bride and Groom. One day, shuffling through the usual harvest of “no thanks, not quite right for us” rejections, I noticed one that said “we like it and we want to publish it,” or words to that effect. After re-reading it carefully forty or fifty times, I thought hmm … they sound interested. And they were.
Now in the movies, after the book is accepted the writer goes off, has a few drinks and next thing you know, he’s ogling piles of his masterpiece in bookstore windows. That’s not quite how it works in real life, at least not nowadays.
The next stage in the process is the waiting. Waiting to hear anything more from the publisher. Let me repeat that: The … W..a..i..t.i…n…g. (Say it out loud in a hollow voice with a dying fall and you’ll get the idea.) Have they forgotten all about you? Suddenly realized they were out of their mind when they offered to publish and hunkered down hoping you’ll go away? Gone bankrupt?
Then one day, there’s an email with an edited copy of your manuscript. This is where you get the rude awakening that your creation isn’t quite as perfect as it seemed to you when you first sent it off. In spite of the fact you read and revised every single sentence at least a dozen times, and you were the star pupil in your English class, you discover that your mastery of grammar and syntax may not quite be at the level you’ve always thought it was. And that some of your cleverest turns of phrase aren’t comprehensible to anyone but you. And that consistency in spelling some of your characters’ names may not be your strong point. Fortunately, the edit process seems to have something like the seal of the confessional about it–only your editor will know that neither you nor Spell Check had a problem with a car’s “breaks” failing.
After the edits, you’ll need to supply a photo for the dust jacket. Strangely enough, every single one available will make you look like either a shifty-eyed crook or the Creature from the Black Lagoon with a killer migraine.
Think you’re finished? Nope, the publisher wants you to publicize: do press releases, book readings and signings, play up your connections with celebrities. But who’s going to turn out for these events if no one’s ever heard of you, and the closest thing to a celebrity you know is a supermarket cashier who was in the news when her purse was snatched? Beats me, but I’m marching my literary offspring into public view. I hope you’ll feel like keeping us company on the trip and introducing us to a few of your friends.
Death of a Bride and Groom
Honeymoon Falls Mysteries
Publisher: Five Star (May 20, 2015)
E-Book ASIN: B00XK2DURA
When the body of writer Iris Morland is discovered in full bridal array atop a giant wedding cake parade float, the little resort town of Honeymoon Falls is left reeling. Not only is its reputation as “the Romance Capital of the World” at risk, its very survival is threatened. Murder, it seems, has a chilling effect on those considering venues for potential nuptials.
Iris enjoyed betrayal, which makes half the people in town potential suspects. Among them is her husband, Kenneth, enraged after discovering her liaison with television host Arnold Reifel. Arnold’s wife, Marjorie, was seething because Iris had turned Marjorie’s interior decoration schemes into a very public humiliation. Then there’s haughty French film auteur, Pierre Blondin, in town filming Iris’s novel. Did Iris trigger his murderous wrath by opposing a nude scene featuring ninety-five-year-old actress Hermione Hopkins?
Captain Will Halsey, head of Honeymoon Falls’ three-person police force, must find the killer among Iris’s host of enemies. And he’ll have to do it while coping with small-town politics, feuding among his subordinates, and the ferocious attentions of the media.
About The Author
Allan J. Emerson was born in Saskatchewan and grew up in small towns there and in British Columbia. He lived in Australia and New Zealand before marrying and settling on the west coast.
His debut novel, Death of a Bride and Groom, is the first in the new Honeymoon Falls series and has just been released by Five Star Publishing (Cengage). Emerson describes it as “a small-town mystery containing humor, a little sex, and some surprising characters (sort of like the author’s life, except for the murders)”. It’s available from bookstores, libraries, and online. A large print edition will be released November, 2015. Visit Allan at http://www.allanjemerson.com/
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