•What is the title of your book?
The full title of the book is “When We Were Married – Volume One – The Long Fall.” It’s a mouthful but it’s necessary. This is possibly going to be a million-word story – at least – and it’s written in episodic fashion. That means there is one major element of the story that runs through the entire length of the various volumes that make it up. But there are a host of subplots – in a million-plus novel you’re going to have a lot of major sub-plots and in most books each of the three or four MAJOR MAJOR subplots would be worth a novel of their own. I wrote it this way because it started life as an Internet serial which I never intended to publish in book form, nor did I have any idea it would run as long as it does. When I decided to publish it in novel form I knew that a million-word novel would never sell – anywhere - and I had a hard time envisioning anyone having the stomach to sit down and read it in one big gulp.
So I broke the first nearly 400,000 words into two smaller novels and had to give them titles and tables of contents and a character sheet. There will be a third volume hopefully out this year and a fourth volume that probably will come out in 2014.
“When We Were Married” is the overall title of the uber-novel and anybody that reads it will understand why it has to be the title. In it is encompassed the major theme, the major plot, the element that launches a million-word story
• Where did the idea for the book come from?
The book sprang from four words I heard in conversation one day. It lingered in my head for a day or two and then I sat down and started writing the story. It was originally intended to be a contained story that wound up running 25,000 words to tell what I thought the story was. But after I posted the story on an internet site, I started thinking about what would happen after the last few words in the 25,000-word opener. And that led to a second and third chapter and that opened up into what would become the first and then the second volume and while I was thinking about how I’d bring the novel to the end that I’d seen from early in the writing process – a very rough idea but I knew what it was – I decided I needed three volumes. And when I got into thinking about the third it dawned on me that I’d need a fourth. And Pray to God that I don’t need to go further because I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life writing this. I have other things I want to do.
• What genre does your book fall under?
That’s been the major puzzle and problem facing me since about 30,000 words into it. I started off calling it a romance, but it really isn’t by any modern accepted version of the word. I’ve always considered “Gone With The Wind” a romance, a love story because I think and I think for most readers, that the spine of the story despite all the stuff about the Civil War and Reconstruction is the story of Scarlett Ohara and Rhett Butler. It’s a love story about two people that should have been together and never could make it last. That’s why there has always been such a demand by people who loved the book to find out WHAT HAPPENED and did they ever MAKE IT BACK. But there’s definitely no HEA (Happy Ever After) ending in “When We Were Married”. When I was teaching high school, I used to tell my students that GWTW was a classic example of the truth that a lot of times people don’t know who they love or should love and that causes a lot of the heartache in this world. People don’t know their own hearts. Besides, there are no tall, dark, rippled-ab Adonis types for women readers to lust after. Actually there is, but he’s the bad guy, at least from one perspective.
It’s not a novel of erotica, even though there are some explicit sexual scenes, adult language, and one extremely disturbing sexual assault that should revolt most women – or men – but it’s necessary for the story. Erotica, by my definition, usually involves sexual activity that is pleasurable for the characters in the novel and for the reader. There is definitely some pleasurable sexual activity on the part of the characters and I hope most of it could be pleasurable to readers, but overall sex is associated with a lot of pain and heartbreak and the kind of things that surround it in the real world. The great pleasure of erotica – and porn to a greater degree – is that you take sex out of the realm of the real world and put it into a dreamlike setting where you can just enjoy it without worrying about all the real consequences.
Then things got complicated because my main character- the main male character anyway – is a prosecutor in the court system in Northeast Florida. In the first chapter his job is referred to and plays a part in the drama of his marriage, but it’s only the second and thereafter that you see him in his element and enter the world of crime and the law. For awhile some readers might think that the legal courtroom and cops and crooks element is taking over the book. But I think that I was able to balance those elements against the story of the prosecutor and his wife throughout the novel. But it makes sense to have both elements because the prosecutor’s personal life in a very real sense impacts the courtroom and in the end will have international repercussions and his life in the courtroom always has and always will impact his marriage and divorce and post-divorce life.
So, this is a love story, a story of modern marriage and divorce, a story of life post-marriage, a story of rebuilding your life in middle age, a story of the law, crime and cops and drugs and murder and international crime, assassins and psychiatrists. But more than anything else, it is the story of Bill Maitland and Debbie Bascomb who fell in love in college, had two kids, managed to hang together for two decades, only to lose it all.
• Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It’s self-published. I still send out query letters to agents from time to time as I get inspired, but I honestly have never expected any success in that area. The work is too long, too diffuse, combines too many elements and doesn’t fit any particular genre, is too sexually explicit for most markets and not erotic enough for the erotic market. I almost certainly wouldn’t have done anything with it beyond posting it online if the E-book market had not come into existence. But since it does exist, it seems silly not to make an effort to market it and make a few bucks, especially since I was going to write it anyway and there are people pushing me to finish it – or at least keep releasing new volumes.
• How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It’s open ended since I’m still writing it. I began the story in April 2010, wrote on it until August 2011, took a break while undergoing major changes in my life and rewriting and cleaning up the text of the first novel and posting 220,000 words as the first novel “The Long Fall” on barnes and smashwords and then amazon in late 2011 and early 2012. I then wrote another 30,000 words to complete the second volume – “Second Acts - at 265,000 words.
The third volume – “The Wind Is Rising” - will come out in four to five sections at 75-80,000 words apiece or roughly 350-400,000 words. I expect and hope to finish all of “The Wind Is Rising” by June, or mid-year. I’m probably going to take six months off and start on the fourth volume – “Nobody Gets Out Alive” – in early 2014 and hopefully finish that in another half year. It will be another long volume and I’ll probably release it in sections.
• Give a one-sentence synopsis of your novel
A four-word Freudian slip destroys the 20-year marriage of a work-obsessed prosecutor and his gorgeous college professor wife, resulting in a bitter divorce and painful efforts by both spouses to make new lives away from each other, while ripples from the divorce reach out across continents to influence criminal trials and even an international battle between two rival drug cartels.
• What other works would compare to your story?
I’m not sure what legal or romance novels would be comparable. Few romances would compare because WWWM is a much darker story where the ending will remain in doubt until the final few pages. There are, I’m sure, plenty of stories about prosecutors battling criminal conspiracies, although I think that WWWM while as realistic as I could make it, presents a much more dramatized view of how justice works, with larger than life characters. But I’m not sure there are many, if any, stories out there that meld the personal drama with courtroom theatrics and crime in the way that WWWM does. It sounds presumptuous, but as mentioned earlier, I’ve always compared it in interviews with “Gone With The Wind” because GWTW was a huge novel that examined a major period in the history of our country. But while the novel covered great events, the focus of the novel was always on the lives and loves of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. And while great events occur in WWWM – major criminal trials, black-white racial confrontations , examinations of mercy killing and globally-covered murder cases, international battles between rival criminal/drug cartels – the focus is and will always be on prosecutor Bill Maitland and insanely hot university professor Debbie Maitland-Bascomb. The novel starts in their bedroom and their two interconnected stories will not be resolved until the final page. And in a way, maybe not even then.
• Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve already mentioned four words inspired the writing of WWWM, but in a deeper sense, it was the discovery of – to me – an entirely different genre. I’ve spent most of my life as an avid reader and writer of science fiction/fantasy/horror/sword and sorcery/mysteries. I’ve had one fantasy novel published by mainstream publishers in the U.S. and Britain and had a few sf/horror stories published in books published by mainstream publishers. I’ve had short stories published in ‘small press’ magazines focusing on science fiction/fantasy/horror/mystery in the U.S., England, Canada and Australia.
However, in 2008-2010 I discovered a web site featuring erotic fiction, a lot of which would be characterized simply as pornography in the sense that it was primarily written for sexual stimulation and pleasure. But there was a category called ‘Loving Wives’ which were stories about the infidelity of wives or women in relationships and the effect this had on the men in their lives, as well as stories simply about the problems that can occur in marriages, usually but not always related to sex.
The stories that made the most impact on me were those that examined the feelings and emotions of men whose lives were literally upended by the discovery that their worlds rested on illusions, that the people they’d built their lives around weren’t there, or had changed to the point they didn’t know them anymore. Now, I know there’s always been an entire genre by and for women about women having to deal with the same traumas, but as I said, I’d never read any of it. Perhaps because I’m a man, these stories hit me hard emotionally. And eventually I started writing short stories from the male viewpoint about these kinds of traumas.
• What else might pique the reader’s interest?
Hopefully, before the end of 2013, I’ll have several anthologies and one novel published and available for purchase. “Moment of Clarity” will have already published short stories and one major new piece, all of which deal with female infidelity/and or other problems between men and women that destroy marriages. Another anthology will be “Ghosts and Shadows” which will feature interconnected short stories and short novels with primarily the same revolving cast of characters. Hopefully half of this will feature never-published material. A third anthology will be “The Blue Side of Christmas” which will include an adult novella about love and pain at Christmas, along with at least 10 shorter pieces without any sex but a fair amount of Yuletide angst. The majority of this is already written so I have realistic ambitions of getting these out.
And, I really hope to have a novel unrelated to WWWM and mostly new characters but set in the same North Florida/First Coast universe of the early 21st century finished and out. “Here At The End Of All Things” will be the story of a man leading a stale and unhappy life who decides to kill himself on his 60th birthday. However, on the evening before his 60th, he decides to go out for a last drink at a local bar, runs into a 22-year-old cocktail waitress/college student, winds up taking her home and to bed. The next morning she leaves, but forgets her wallet and returns to find him unconscious. Reviving him with the help of an intern boyfriend, she attempts to convince him that suicide is a bad idea, but he is determined and tells her even if she has him locked up, eventually they’ll have to let him out and he’ll kill himself then. SO, she offers him a deal. If he will hold off for 30 days, she will have sex with him whenever and wherever and however he wants it. And at the end of the 30 days, if he’s still determined, she will wish him luck and walk away. She’s hoping that if she can keep him alive long enough, he’ll see the point of living. And that’s the story.
Who is your “Next Big Thing”?
This is the point where the subject of the Blog Hop gets to pass it on to the next writer, to tag a writer that I feel could be “The Next Big Thing”.
The author I’d like to push is Jennifer Dawn. Besides having a perfect name for a romance author, she’s a good writer. I saw her book, “A Walk Through Hell” online and bought it based on the title. It’s a romance, but with rough edges. It’s a more realistic love story, with more warts and bumps in the road. Which if you’re familiar with what I write and read, is more my speed. She’s recently come out with an interesting short available online and I’m waiting for her next novel-length project
I hope anyone who’s stumbled onto this has enjoyed it. I welcome comments below or contact through my FB page at http://www.facebook.com/danielquentin.steele and either of two websites at http://www.dqsteele.com/index.html , or http://wempublishing.com or you can do it the easy way by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
And as always to any writer, good luck with your own writing projects.
In a lot of ways, this really is the start of a journey. It's a journey into a new writing life for me, and I hope a lot of people I've never met around the world but whom I've come to consider friends, will be taking that journey with me. I'll use this blog to let you know what I'm working on, what I'm planning to do, to answer your questions and just generally comment on anything I'm interested in. This is something new for me and I can't guarantee that I'll be any good at it, but they say starting new things is good for you. I hope it will be good for me and you.