The bookstore in Binghamton, N.Y. was dark, dusty and overstuffed with books; books on tables in awkward piles, on the floor in uneven stacks and laid haphazardly on walls of shelves. Hazy, dusty windows filtered the sunlight.
Behind a desk, in deeper dark, sat the owner, fat, red suspenders, glasses, leaning back in his chair. He spoke little, barely said thanks when he handed back the change from a dollar.
I had purchased a run-of-the-mill copy of John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” for forty-five cents.
More important, I walked out of the store with Leonard, a new character for the story I would write, called “A Game Called Dead.”
That story is the first Frank Nagler story.
Nagler, a Ironton, N.J. detective, is the central character in “The Swamps of Jersey,” my novel that will be released Nov. 1 by Izmadi Publishing.
It will be available electronically on Amazon and Barnes & Noble sites, with other versions to follow.
Leonard didn’t make it into “The Swamps of Jersey,” but is waiting for me as I rewrite “A Game Called Dead.”
“Swamps” isn’t set in New York, either – The title is a dead giveway.
I had planned to take one part of “Game” and expand it to make the story deeper and richer; instead, working on that piece opened up a new story and the new location.
Morris County, N.J. readers may recognize some names and references to familiar locations.
To make that location work, Frank Nalger had to be more than a native of Ironton, but hip-deep in its work history, economic ups and downs and make real the narrator’s description: “Ironton was a city of alleys.”
Leonard is not the only character in Nagler’s universe who came out of an actual incident.
Lauren Fox, Nagler’s love interest whose disappearance is questioned throughout the story, came to life one day when I was sitting in JFK Park in Dover, N.J. I was watching kids play and traffic stop and go when the phrase “There is more here than meets the eye” popped into my head.
As soon as I thought of that phrase, Lauren Fox became a whole character and the plot of the book made sense.
One more real-life instance.
I had written a lot of social commentary into the story. First, I had the narrator explain it, but that didn’t work, Next I had outspoken newspaper reporter Jimmy Dawson explain it, but that changed his role in the story too much.
Then at an actual town planning board meeting, the application was being presented by a lawyer named Bartholomew.
The name was perfect: Bartholomew Harrington was born and became the distinctive voice of the social unrest that underlies the mystery in “Swamps” and tied it more directly to the plot of the story.
Watch this site for full release details.