Friday, January 19, 2007

My long lost novel (Or what you find when you clean out your office)

We've only lived in our new Baton Rouge house since July. There is a workshop sort of building which makes a nice little office, and I immediately claimed it for Spain, declaring the room to be man-space. No wives or children. I'm going to put a little dorm-size refrigerator out there, a radio, etc. Going through the boxes of my former office (back in Oklahoma) I found the spiral-bound galleys of the never-published Three On a Light. I paged through it.

Three On a Light is not the triumph I thought/hoped it was at the time. It is genre-blend Private eye meets vampires and werewolves sort of thing. I thought I was really cool and original at the time, but of course, similar things have been done better before and since. Paging through, I discovered some rough spots. I've definitely matured as a writer since turning Three On a Light into my master's thesis in 1998 at the University of West Florida. The novel was meant to be a very aware-of-itself postmodern genre-ish thing, the tropes of the P.I. genre and the elements of the horror genre dueling it out on the page with a pop-culture flavor. I know now I would approach such a project differently than I did then.

Still, there are some nice moments. Under no circumstances do I consider the novel complete trash, and, indeed, I'm sure some folks would consider it a pleasant read. In fact, the novel was originally accepted for publication ... twice. For a variety of reasons, the book never saw the light of day. I have no hard feelings about this, but I must admit to a bit of disappointment. The book seems like the last orphan for which I could not find a home.

I'm not sure the thing could sell to any press today. I think I could take a month and smooth out some of the rough spots, but that would only be half the battle. The novel suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. I say "novel" but it's really more like a series of short stories that lead into one another. The whole thing is maybe 50,000 words long.

So there it is. This novel-ish/collection, genre-blend thing. Homeless. What does one do with such a creature?

How about you guys? Any strange orphans out there?

16 comments:

Karen Olson said...

While cleaning out my basement for demolition last weekend, I found a box that contained a dreadful novel I wrote about 10 years ago. I was trying for a "women's fiction" thing, a little romance, but there was a little "mystery" in it too. Mainly, though, there was a lot of crap. I think I needed to get it out of my system, and I'm glad I did, because now it's done and gone and over and I moved on quite nicely. I didn't throw it out, though. We need to keep stuff like that around to make us realize that there's always more to learn.

Lee Goldberg said...

You might try Five Star...they'd probably go for it. They published my book THE WALK, which also didn't fit into any genre (and was turned down by every publisher with a printing press on planet earth).

Victor Gischler said...

Karen,

The real question is this: Why the heck is your basement being demolished? You've got bodies down there, don't you?

Lee,

Thanks for the tip. My agent and I have some things going with the current novel, but as soon as the dust settles maybe I'll bring up Five Star and see what he thinks.

VG

Karen Olson said...

Victor, my basement is being re-renovated. We've got a huge room down there that was renovated in the early 1970s...dark paneling on the walls, a crappy big built-in bookshelf, that creepy red eagle wallpaper we all remember not-so-fondly, and a huge bar covered with pink formica. Needless to say, it's all been gutted (my dad, who's doing the work, said there was a lot of overkill with nails in that bar, there were nails about 1 inch apart throughout!). I wouldn't have been surprised if there was a body down there; we heard that the folks who originally owned the house actually built a small airplane down there at one point.

Bill Crider said...

I have a novel with Robert E. Howard as the main character that I've tried to sell a couple of times. Part of it finally saw the light of day in Cross Plains Universe, the anthology given out at the World Fantasy Con last fall.

The problem you'd have with Five Star is that they require 65,000 words.

Victor Gischler said...

Bill,

That's always been the problem with this book. Too short, not novel enough, too much like a story collection. I still honestly think some folks would enjoy reading it, but it would give marketing departments the heebee-jeebees.

I should just give the thing away for free to whomever curious.

VG

Neil said...

I haven't yet been able to sell my novle GIRL MISSING, also referred to by my friends and me as the "porno P.I." novel.

But I love this book. Shame to see it sit and get moldy.

Victor Gischler said...

Neil,
I wish there was a good press willing to take a chance on that awesome, crazy book. You'd be a cult figure overnight.

VG

Kent Westmoreland said...

The long lost novel sounds like it could be be a big budget, CGI movie with the follow-up video game. I suggest your agent pursue that angle. I'm sure that's not what you want your legacy to be, but it sounds like a six to seven figure deal. You heirs will like that legacy.

Victor Gischler said...

Hey, Kent!

Glad you found the blog, and I hope you stop in frequently to visit.

And if you know any computer game makers, send 'em my way.

VG

gorjus said...

Victor, have you thought about cutting it up? If you think it's too short-storyish, let it be short stories. That way, you could just cut out the rough bits you don't like.

I'm also reminded of David Schickler's Kissing in Manhattan, which was ostensibly short-stories, even though they all had a common thread and fairly tumbled to a unifying end.

Victor Gischler said...

gorjus,

A perfectly good idea which I have tried in a limited way. Some of the stories went to websites ... which then exploded and vanished. Other stories bleed into 8,000-10,000 word range which make them tougher to place. The story "Smoke" is still available via the sampler on this blog.

I enjoy pretty fakes by the way.

VG

Duane Swierczynski said...

I feel like the exact same thing happened to me... only it was called Secret Dead Men, and it was eventually published by Point Blank.

But before that, it also was an attempt to fuse a PI novel with the supernatural (and a little sci-fi). And it was also written in 1998! What the hell was in the water back then?

The strange thing is, even though it was published, it feels like my long lost novel, because it's pretty different from the stuff I do now.

Anyway... you've got me jonesin' to read Three on a Light. And I know other Gischeraholics would feel the same way.

Duane Swierczynski said...

Um, that was supposed to be Gischleraholics.

Victor Gischler said...

Duane,

I think I can imagine how you feel since I know people sometimes call WHEELMAN a "great debut" and I think I saw one review call THE BLONDE your "sophomore outing." SECRET DEAD MEN sort of gets swept under the rug which is a shame because it's pretty damn cool.

Maybe if we'd written our cross-genre books AFTER Charlie Huston started kicking so much ass things would have been different.

VG

Kat Richardson said...

Damn it. I knew it wasn't me. Drat that Houston man. I shall hunt him down and steal his next book. I was gonna steal yours, Vic, but... you found it before I could convince my trusty turtle to carry me to Florida. (I gotta get this turtle turbo-charged, some day.)