Breathing life into my first novel: FATAL INDEMNITY
The birth of a novel
In the mid-90's, after I turned 30, had married, bought two houses and had my first child on the way, I embarked on one of my lifelong ambitions - to write a novel. To my recollection it originated with my first grade teacher, and was nurtured and supported by my parents: the notion that I could be a writer. It's funny how you don't recognize these things in yourself when you're younger, but as you get older, you begin to reflect on your particular set of talents, and how you can use them to effect the world in positive ways. By my parents description, I began reading voraciously right after I learned to walk. Of course, that could be an exaggeration, but I did devour books, and found myself lost in story after story.
So back to the mid-90's. Around this time, some of the genres I was reading were mysteries. One day, I learned that a former neighbor and teammate on my high school track and cross country teams had published a pretty successful little novel, which came with a million-dollar advance, and I took notice.
You may have heard of the book: The Notebook , written by Nicholas Sparks.
In any event, it made me realize - you know, that synaptic connection - that I could get there from here. That someone with my particular set of talents, skills, who grew up in the same place I did, could achieve something significant in life. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
I didn't think I had skills in writing romantic or sentimental material like Nick Sparks, but I did enjoy the process of creating, of feeling words and images flow through my fingers on to the paper. So I grabbed my pen and notepad, and started spending a few minutes each day scoping out a plot line, creating multi-dimensional characters, and fleshing out a novel.
That novel became Fatal Indemnity. Available at:
Write what you know
When I embark on a new project, I tend to do a lot of research, and one of the more compelling pieces of advice I read was to write about what you know. I remember thinking, "I don't do anything that would be interesting to someone else." Little did I know that the growth of reality TV was just around the corner!
At the time I was an insurance claims adjuster, and worked with a lot of investigators, so I started playing with this idea of my protagonist being an insurance investigator. Through the crazy business of handling workers compensation claims for many years, I was exposed to a boatload of stories, which I massaged a little to imbed into the story, with maybe just a little dramatization for effect.
I finished around the time my daughter was born, and launched the novel by sending it to a number of agents, one of whom agreed to try to sell my novel to book publishers. When that didn't pan out, I started working on my second novel. Eventually, Fatal Indemnity became relegated to being on computer disk, with scores of printed and marked-up versions of the book in file drawers at home.
And then crickets...
Every year, I like to have at least one notable goal before me - last year, it was to complete my first marathon. After talking with a friend about how computer technology becomes obsolete after time, and about how easy it is now to self-publish, and I found myself digging this little novel from the archives. I dusted it off, re-read it, did just a few minor edits, and sent it off!
Here's how I crafted the blurb for the back of the book:
"In the insurance investigation business, it’s not often that I deal with weighty issues from the criminal justice system. Most of my time is spent conducting lightweight investigations, hoping to find someone with a drunken driving record, which I’m embarrassed to say I dive into with palpable zeal.
Until I met Verna Lawton.
My insatiable curiosity - the same that got me sent home in third grade for putting hot sauce in my teacher’s coffee - has led me into a world of yard gnomes, muddy river baths and shadowy homeless camps. All because I had to find out what happened to a cranky old woman whose life of misfortune ended shortly after I met her.
As I hide in the corner of the darkened office of my former boss late at night, I peer through the fish tank as a roomful of thugs walks in. I don’t think they can spot me in the dimly-lit room, but I didn’t have time to escape. I think the Chinese Algae Eater is on to me.
A man pulls a cigarette from his breast pocket, removes a match from between his teeth and lights it. I notice his eyes are closed as he inhales. When he opens them, he stares straight at me. I feel a chill run down my body as I duck my head.
I wonder whether Verna knew what she was doing when she came to our offices that morning.
I wonder whether I know what I’m doing now."
I still wonder, but I'm happy to say - 14 years after it was created, Fatal Indemnity has been officially released into the ether. You will soon find versions on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and there will even be a Kindle version.
Later this summer, expect to see my second novel, Dominic Graves, to also be released.
As I state in my Hub profile, "It's an amazing world where we can jot down our observations and have another reader, often on the other side of the planet, read and relate."
I hope you do, and I sincerely thank you for your support.
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