Friday, January 23, 2009

Real communication

Finally, real communication requires something to say. When I read a mystery story (or any kind of fiction), I want it to tell me something new. I want to see a different place, a different culture, a unique character. I want to read a compelling story. Anything else becomes the same thing over and over again.

And that leads me to one small point about the Roy Rogers books. I’m writing the last Roy Rogers book. There will have been three of them. I don’t know whether all of them will be commercially published or not, but I will have written three. I decided I didn’t want to do Roy over and over again. I had one more thing to say about the characters.

I will probably write more books with those characters, written not from Roy’s point of view, but from a third person point of view. Those stories will tell what happened to Harry, for example, after the mental hospital.

The characters in my Roy Rogers books are fictional, but the physical institution is loosely based on the place where I grew up. I left the grounds of the mental hospital where I grew up in 1959. I didn’t want to go beyond that time, so the last book is set in 1958. I have telescoped some of the things that happened for that hospital, having a lot of them happen in that one year, but that’s OK. The outcome is the same.

For me to communicate, I had to limit the number of manuscripts my Roy Rogers wrote. After that, it would have just become routine.

In so far as I can tell, a respectable but not huge number of people have read The Body in the Record Room. But that's not something I control. I do control the storytelling.

Telling the story of people whose story needs to be told. That’s the issue for me. That’s where the communication lies.


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