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 contemptible of Britons, 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.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones and Storytelling

Writing is a funny game. You make stuff up and it goes from your head to your fingers, then to a screen via keyboard, or a page via writing implement. But of course, we all know that's not the oldest way of telling stories. Really, stories began with cave drawings and...
attorney

The Power of an Attorney

Last week I missed the deadline to post my Monday blog, then missed any other opportunity through the rest of the week. The reason? I'm power of attorney for my mother, who took a fall and had to be hospitalized. Hence the headline for this week's post. Being power of...
collection

A Free Short Story Collection

Last week I wrote a bit about the upcoming Rides From Strangers short story collection, as I finally got the completed cover design. Today’s post is related, but with a little twist. As I mentioned a week ago, I’m offering this e-book free to anyone who joins the...

It’s A Small World After All

Most of my blog posts are related in one way or another to the business of being an author - expanding your author platform, improving your book marketing, and so on - and not strictly self-promotional. However, every once in a while, I've got a radio interview or...
bridge

21st Century Etiquette (Or the Lack Thereof)

"There are so many unreliable people now that being reliable in and of itself is a valuable rare trait." - Louis Leung I have always thought that certain bare minimum requirements for etiquette are particularly important in business. For example: "do what you said you...
creativity

Can Creativity Be Taught?

Have you ever thought about writing a book? Have you written a book? If the answer to the first question is Yes, but the answer to the second question is No, there might be a few reasons for this. One reason I frequently hear from potential ghostwriting clients is,...
running

“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...

A Vacation Blog Post and a Manross Library Appearance

The following post has been pre-scheduled. I've never tried to pre-schedule a blog post before, so I had to look up how to do it. If you know me well, you won't be surprised by that. Hey, I'm on vacation while you read this. Modern technology! I find it interesting to...
litfic

Leaving The Litfic Category Behind?

Today’s blog is NOT an advertisement for products or services I offer. However, I do want to extend an invitation to join my email newsletter list to get content that’s (mostly) not available elsewhere. One thing about the author life that never fails to entertain is...

Let’s Get Personal: Why Do I Write?

I’ve been on a marketing campaign for the past couple of weeks, and missed my deadline for this blog last Monday…so I just plain skipped a week. Those of you who know me are probably a bit surprised. I’m pretty particular about getting things done on time. I’ve always...