Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Book Deal!

As the next turn on my long, winding road as a writer, I’ve hit a much hoped for milestone: a deal has been struck to publish my mystery novel. Just this afternoon, my agent reached an agreement with a major publisher – St. Martin’s Press – for a two book contract. The first manuscript is in the editor’s hands; the second is to come. (These novels will feature my detective team of O’Nelligan and Plunkett whom I’ve grown quite fond of after having written and published three of their shorter tales already.) This all came to pass in a rather intriguing way. Last November, I was attending the mystery writer’s conference Crime Bake in Massachusetts. I was there as a panelist, but also as one of many writers trying to find representation for his manuscript. I pitched to a couple of literary agents there, who, in the end, chose not to take on the project. However, one night I ended up by chance dining next to Susan Gleason, an agent who I had not pitched to. Between the entrée and dessert, she told me that if I had something I wanted her to look over, I should feel free to contact her. I accepted her card and filed it in my breast pocket. Jump ahead to a year later, almost to the day. I’m driving down to this year’s Crime Bake, when I get a call from Susan (who by now has become my agent) to say that St. Martin’s has made an offer on the book. Ah yes! The whole cycle of this story begins and ends with Crime Bake – for which I tender an immense shout out. So that, my friends, is today’s tale…

 become a travel writer

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Myth in the Forest

Like Odysseus returning to Ithaca after his eponymous adventure, I come back to this my blog after a bout of worldly activity and cyber absence. (A grandiose comparison, I know.) The center of my autumn doings was the Forest of Mystery, a large-scale outdoor theatrical event which I write and direct. With a cast of thirty and many support folk, it’s quite the production and became the center of my creative world for the fall months. This year, I wrote the script based on the old Irish myth of Sive (Irish spelling: Saidbhin) which I came upon in a roundabout way. Wearing another of my hats, I write traditional whodunits set in the 1950s, my detective being Mr. O’Nelligan, an Irish immigrant originally from County Kerry where my mother’s parents were born. This summer, while preparing for my next story, I was doing some research on Cahirciveen, my grandmother's hometown. I discovered that Cahirciveen translates as Cathair Saidbhín, meaning "little Sive's stone fort" derived from the old Celtic legend of Sive, a maiden turned into a deer through dark sorcery. I located the myth, read it, and had an aha! moment when I realized that here could well be this year's Forest of Mystery tale. Using the basic structure of the legend, I added a few other traditional Irish folk characters and expanded on the idea of a human emerged in a world of meadow and woodland. As the production came together, some of my actors provided various items that come from Ireland itself--here a shawl, there a walking stick, here a tapestry--which found their way into the performance. So, there was indeed a bit of the old country out there in the forest those nights. The shows went grandly and I was much content to have reached back to my Irish roots for an ancient tale. As for Mr. O’Nelligan, he’ll be seeing the light o’ day himself again in December in the upcoming issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. So, all told, it’s been a rather Celtic season for me. All to the good.