I wrote my third novel between about 2007 and 2015. I can’t say it took a full eight years to write – I got stuck in the final third for a couple years – but it was an ambitious project. I’d gone from a third person novel to a first person novel, and now I was going back to third person again.

For Miles of Files, I wanted to paint with a broader palette than ever before, and I actually had a few things in mind. For one, I wanted to have tiers of characters like Charles Dickens did in Dombey and Son: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The tertiary characters are mainly commentators, who pass on information about primary and/or secondary characters. I wanted to make sure each character was unique and different enough from the others that the reader could easily identify them. So I went through the Myers-Briggs personality types and assigned them accordingly.

Miles started with the germ of an idea. Paul Panepinto works as a low-level employee in an insurance corporation. He finds out that his boss, the second-in-command, is stealing from the company retirement plan. Paul fears that he’ll lose his job if the owner doesn’t believe him, but he can’t just stick his head in the sand either. Talk about a highly uncomfortable dilemma.

Said boss, Graham Woodcock, is a Brit transplant who shows blatant contempt for Americans right from the first chapter. Now, I’ve been a diehard Anglophile for years, so you may wonder why I would create such a contemptible British character as Graham.

The roots of the Graham character probably go back to my twelve-year-old self discovering the magic of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Some of the ensemble – notably, Graham Chapman and John Cleese – had the pompous fool character down pat. The love-hate relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. came through for me even louder and clearer in another Cleese showcase, the 1980s film A Fish Called Wanda.

In that film, Cleese plays an amiable attorney (barrister, in British parlance) enamored with all things America…in particular, with Jamie Lee Curtis. I consider Kevin Kline, who plays Jamie’s fake brother, Otto, a kind of American prototype of Graham Woodcock (but not nearly as smart as Graham). Otto is especially contemptuous of Brits, whom he sees as pompous, condescending, etc.

Graham arrived fully formed, and I’ll be honest: I had a hard time letting him go. I actually had a hard time reining him in and keeping him from taking over the book! By turns ruthless, greedy, misogynistic, and pompous, I also think of Graham as reflective, a fan of classic American jazz, and very, very funny. I might have to make him the main character in another book somewhere down the line.

remember 80s

Remember The 80s? Placing Scenes in History in My Upcoming Novel

Remember the 80s? How about the 70s, or even the 60s? Of course, I know the old expression: if you remember the 60s, you weren't there. But in my house, it was different. I was born in the 60s, but in my house it was pretty much like the 50s. No discussion of the war...

Cover Reveal: Rides From Strangers

Rides From Strangers is coming! Today’s post is a reminder about the upcoming publication of my new short story collection, which is indeed called Rides From Strangers, after the first story in the book. For those of you already on my email newsletter list, I will be...
coding

You Can’t Do It All—And You Don’t Have To!

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago called What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. One of the points ran as follows: Even if you're traditionally published, you still have to do a lot of the heavy marketing lifting. As an indie, be prepared...

Goin’ Home

About a million years ago, I read a Peanuts cartoon quoting Thomas Wolfe: "You can't go home again." Perhaps fifteen years later, I discovered Wolfe in a lit class, and read Look Homeward, Angel. Eventually, I also got through You Can't Go Home Again, along with a few...
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Adventures In Southeast Asia

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” ― Eugene Ionesco I first began visiting Southeast Asia over twenty years ago, so it probably comes as a surprise to readers that I haven't written about my...
no more for the road

No More For The Road

I took my last drink 32 years ago. Hard to believe I’ve reached that many years of continuous sobriety. If you’d asked me the day before I stopped drinking whether I had an alcohol problem, I would have said No. Mainly because I didn’t think I did. What I had was an...
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“When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around”

Like most Americans who grew up in the 70s and 80s, I've got a fair amount of song lyrics floating around my head. Today's post is entitled "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around" after the Police song of that name. And I'll admit, I...

Memorial Day 2019

I don't have a special message for Memorial Day. I never do.In fact, looking back through the archives for previous years' messages, I see I don't have any. Maybe I deleted them to save space on the server. Perhaps I deleted something in an effort to avoid courting...
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Another Monday Blog Post – And a Special Offer

One of the great things about WordPress websites is the ability to schedule blog posts. So Happy Monday to you, but you're probably reading this while I'm taking my wife to DisneyWorld! Last week was "Happy New Year" time, so now we're into good old regular blog...
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Working on Novels

This week I’m back to blogging about the love of my life – no, not my lovely wife, Sunny, although I must admit she’s the true love of my life. I mean I’m blogging about my fiction again. People know me for a few different things: author, speaker, publisher. And since...