On the Threshold


The Threshold

It’s been a while (and I use that term modestly) since I’ve been on the threshold. And by threshold I’m speaking (writing) figuratively. I don’t mean I’m readying myself to walk into a house or room or medieval castle. I mean I’m on the brink of finally getting a book published. Which is exciting. And after so long, almost foreign.

Attention, David!

Since my last traditionally published book, Epitaph Road, I’ve worked on a number of other stories. But for one reason or another, nothing has clicked. For about the past three years, though, I’ve been concentrating on a young adult alternate-history novel that pretty much demanded my full attention. Forget those other projects, it said. You’ve got me!

Preliminary Stuff

I couldn’t refuse. Once the idea got in my head and expanded and took on story lines and characters and the characters grew and had to deal with conflict, I was hooked. So I wrote a synopsis and an outline and began a rough draft. I did a lot of remote research, spent time on the Internet, visited libraries, read books. Wrote some more.

Road Trip

In October 2015 I visited the Trinity test site in New Mexico. Twice a year, the army holds an open house for people who want to visit the site of the first atomic bomb test, which took place in July, 1945, on what is now the White Sands Missile Base. This event plays a big part in my story. So I went on a low-budget fact-finding trip. Cheap airfare. Cheap rental car. Two nights in a cheap hotel sandwiched around the Saturday open house. Fast food. Cheap beer.

Another Threshold

I didn’t care about the bare-bones itinerary. I had a great time. The weather was good, the drive from Socorro (the nearest town of any size) to the base was short, the soldiers were hospitable and helpful. There was barbecue! Seeing the site, the remaining buildings, the skeletons of structures, the surroundings, was informative and inspiring. There were photos and bios of some of the lead characters in the real-life drama. We got to tour the ranch house where the bomb was assembled.

Up-Close Research

I talked to people who’d lived nearby, bought books from them on the history of the area and the bomb, got some new viewpoints. I took a ton of photos, including photos of photos depicting the “base camp” as it was then, which was very helpful. When I got back to my writing, I no longer had to fill in the blanks with guesswork.

Back to the (Writing) Board

And I did get back to my writing. What I’d envisioned as an 80,000-word novel turned out to be more than 100,000. But that was the first draft. It was time to do another and another, to cut the fat, add detail, compress, expand, imagine. The story got down to 95,000 and eventually close to that 80,000 I’d first imagined. My hope is that all the remaining words are good ones.

Edit Time

But right now I’m waiting for the manuscript to come back from the editor at Koehler Books, the publisher, so there will undoubtedly be more in the way of revision. The important thing, though, is that I’m on that threshold. We’re shooting for a summer publication date, which, in the book business, is practically tomorrow. And as I find out more specifics on timing, I’ll get dates out there. I’ll also be able (soon) to tell you the for-sure title. Right now it’s called Fast Backward, but I haven’t gotten a definite final okay on that.

You Can’t Tell a Book By Its Cover, But…

I also can’t show you a cover yet, but I’ve seen some of the covers Koehler has done for its other books, so I’m confident Fast Backward (or whatever–The Threshold kind of rings a bell) will have a good one. Anyway, I’m ready to take that next step, the one that gets me across to whatever awaits on the other side. I’m hoping you readers out there will give the book a try.

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