That headline is an actual sentence from my novel The Rocky Orchard, which releases from Amika Press on May 12, 2020.
I began writing the book in December, 2019, when no one had an inkling of how profoundly the world, and each one of its citizens, would be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Rocky Orchard — as many of the early reviewers have found — is a difficult book to describe without giving too much away. I do believe the book has profound implications for our current time. In the wonderful words of Chicago writer/reviewer David Berner, this book is ultimately “A contemplative and deeply expressed story of human connection, loss, love, heaven and earth, and how we choose to define the mark we leave on the world. ”
Please take a look at my publisher’s pre-order page for a synopsis, sample chapter, and some of the early reviews.
We live in uncertain times. Probably a good idea to PRE-ORDER NOW.
Artwork: Sandra Dawson
Suicide was just a word, a vague concept. Something whispered, read about in books. Nothing that had ever come near my own world, but rather a specter keeping itself hidden and far away. I had not even read The Bell Jar, hadn’t thought of Sylvia Plath turning on the stove in the apartment where she lived every day. Had not been stuck with the picture of her putting her head into the oven with the gas jet running, her two young children sleeping in their beds on the other side of the wall.
Daddy Daddy, I said. Daddy, I don’t know what Tim is going to do. I’m scared. I think he’s going to do something to himself. Help me, Daddy. I need your help, Daddy. I said.
As I work on getting my third completed novel Out There, I have been playing around with several new ideas, and it’s possible that one has taken hold! I have long been intrigued by writing a full-length work that takes place within a time frame that is less than 24 hours (think Mrs. Dalloway, Ulysses, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, etc.). I have become intrigued by the possibility of telling the entire story in separate pieces of flash fiction — each of which would be entirely free standing, but all of which together would tell the tale. Stay tuned!
photos of Sylvia Plath
“Before they moved the TV down here I was pretty much all alone by my lonesome a good deal of the time. People was in and out, but for the most part didn’t really pay me no never mind. Course I was in better shape back then, younger, chugging along pretty good even if I was getting up in years. And don’t think that I’m complaining cause I ain’t. I like my own company just fine; it gives you time to think.
But then they fixed up the room right next to my own so the whole family could have a place to assemble, and they made it real nice and cozy, too. And what with the TV down here, well suddenly I had me a whole lot of company, and these folks who had breezed in and out of my room for all that time before was living their lives right in front of my eyes, so to speak.
I had me a family, for the first time ever.”
Those two paragraphs + 1 sentence = the majority of the writing that I have done on my 3rd novel in the past several days. The good news is: I like those paragraphs. The bad news is: obvious. It’s two paragraphs.
I have to make some decisions about the structure of this work before I can go much further. In the meantime, I keep tinkering around with the beginning, the part that I know, the part of the creative picture that is clear, while I continue to grope around in the near-darkness pursuing other parts of the picture — the ones that have blurred, the ones that I am trying to stare at, the ones I am trying to sneak up on while they least expect it.
Agony. Ecstasy. Repeat.