All of us who profess to be writers have boxes of stories, half done. Computer files of ideas and notes. Sticky-notes on calendars and walls holding possible titles and seven-word ideas.
Until it doesn’t.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have “The Swamps of Jersey,” the first Frank Nagler mystery published by Imzadi Publishing. And even more fortunate to have the second book in the series, “A Game Called Dead,” planned for release in January.
In a sense, those books are like children who left home: They’ll call occasionally and maybe visit. But they are gone.
At the end of a writing jag that produces a manuscript, there is a letdown, filled with doubt: Can I do it again? Do I want to do it again?
I’ll never get on that horse again.
And then you do.
That’s what I felt the other day when I knocked off the first 1,400 words of the opening scene in the third Frank Nagler book, “The Weight of Living.”
I stared at the computer screen and thought, “I started the third one.”
It was a “wow” moment, some affirmation that I can really do this. Suddenly the story in my head was real: It was just a title before, an idea, now it has a place to go.
So on we go, more Frank Nagler, more Lauren Fox, Jimmy Dawson, and more of some of the characters who showed up in “A Game Called Dead.”
And maybe the reason that that was such a moment is that “The Weight of Living” is going to send Nagler into a dark world of power, deprivation and depravity.
It is a different story than the others in the series, and I guess that is the challenge. This is a world unfamiliar to my characters and to me as a writer.
So here it is: Walk to the edge and jump.
“The Swamps of Jersey” is at:
“The Swamps of Jersey” was published by Imzadi Publishing LLC on Nov. 1.
Also available at Barnes and Noble stores through their website and online at http://www.barnesandnoble.com
The summary of “A Game Called Dead” :
The story of Frank Nagler picks up two years after “Swamps.” Ironton, N.J., is still a city struggling with its economic and rebuilding troubles, but new heroes emerge. Meanwhile a break-in at the local college leaves two women badly beaten, and one later dies. Following a series of criminal acts in the city, including several that damage the book store owned by Leonard, Nagler’s friend, the story takes on a sinister twist. The title comes from the students’ name for a video game that has taken on a real-world life. They call it “A Game Called Dead.”
And this (so far) is how “The Weight of Living” opens:
“The girl had impossibly dull eyes for someone so young, small, dark dots sunk into an ashen blank face that stared straight ahead at the light green wall. Hard eyes that did not seem to register the color of the wall, the brown of the tabletop, the light bulb above her head or the presence of anyone else. She was not blind, because she walked, albeit robotically, from the police car to the police station and into the back office without assistance, and once in the room without being told, she slipped sideways into the chair, which engulfed her, faced the wall, folded her hands on the table and sat upright.
Her eyes were not colorless – they seemed to be green – but they held no light; expressionless, passages not to a dark soul, but to one seemingly hidden or removed; spaces missing life; not filled with pain, but absence.
Her hair was raggedly cut, and filthy, as was her thin, damaged body. Grime lived in her skin folds, under her finger nails, on and in her skin so deeply its color changed from white to brown-gray; dirt so thick her skin shed water like plastic.”
This little girl holds the key to the story that Frank Nagler will be forced to uncover.