Tomorrow I take another stab at this self-publishing thing with the release of my new novel, The Servant. Here’s the blurb:
Private investigator Steve Bennett is having the worst day of his life. A violent sex trafficker wants him dead, a police captain is pulling out all the stops to send him to prison, and one of his best friends has just been murdered.
Enraged by his friend’s death, Bennett swears revenge. The trail leads him to a psychopath who calls himself ‘The Servant of the Lord.’ The killer’s targets: the leaders of a movement to legalize same-sex marriage.
He strikes without remorse, leaving bloody messages of biblical vengeance with each victim. He taunts the public by announcing each murder. He comes and goes at will. No one knows who he is or how far he’s willing to go.
It’s a race against time as Bennett and reporter Amanda Clark find themselves on course for a deadly confrontation with ‘The Servant’.
My friend and cover artist, Edward Howell, said that this book is ‘ripped from the headlines.’ I suppose he’s right, given the dramatic events of the last year or so in terms of same-sex marriage, but what’s interesting is that I actually conceived this idea about ten years ago.
It’s been my observation that over the last twenty years or so the public debate over same-sex marriage and LGBT rights tends to come and go. In 2004 it had come up again and, predictably, opinions from all sides were flying.
I was reading the paper one day and saw something in the ‘letters to the editor’ section that caught my eye. The letter writer had cited a bible verse, Lev 20:13, that forbids homosexuality. Curious, I opened my grandmother’s old bible and read the entire verse, which ends with the command that those who commit homosexual acts be put to death.
I was chilled by it and to this day am conflicted. I count myself a Christian but I have very dear friends who are gay. I will not condemn them. I express this conflict in the novel through one of my characters. To this day I haven’t resolved the issue.
Anyway, reading that passage put me into ‘what if’ mode. What if some lunatic took it upon himself to enforce that particular command, becoming, in essence, a ‘biblical vigilante?’ I started playing with ideas and even did some writing.
Then I entered my ‘wilderness’ period as a writer. I was busy with work and kids and didn’t find much, if any, time to do what I loved the most. As thrilled and happy as I was raising my kids, the lack of energy and time to write always bothered me. The project went by the wayside.
I never really stopped writing, but I couldn’t seem to get any momentum going, either. Then, in 2012, I had the idea for The Inheritance and everything changed. I started carrying a laptop with me and would write whenever I had a chance. The ideas flowed and I found myself back in the groove.
I credit this to God because nothing else about my circumstances had really changed. I was still in a job I hated, the kids still kept me busy and so forth. Nothing was different, yet I was back in the game. The only explanation that makes any sense is that it was ‘my time.’
While I was working on that book it occurred to me that maybe it was time to resurrect my old ‘Leviticus Enforcer’ idea. One thing led to another and suddenly I had plans for an entire series of novels in my ‘Port Mason’ universe.
I’ve talked about the issues with The Inheritance in earlier blog posts so I’m not going to get into those again. What matters is taht despite the problems with that book, I found myself determined to keep at it. I finally had the drive and endurance I’d always wanted. I wasn’t getting bored with material after a first draft. Like I said before, it was finally ‘my time.’
The new book grew through seven drafts (no rushing this time) and the title changed to The Servant. I hired an editor this time and it was worth every penny. Josephine Henke did amazing stuff with my book, making it better while preserving my style and voice. My best friend, Edward Howell, agreed to do the cover and it is simply amazing.
I have to shout out to my wife, Angela, for her love, support, and sharp eyes for proofreading. She found little stuff no one else did. As I learned with The Inheritance, it’s the little stuff that can sink you.
My only regret in this journey is that my mom and dad aren’t here to see it. They were always my first readers. Though I’m sure they looked at my early work through rose-colored glasses, their support meant the world to me. Mom especially enjoyed crime thrillers and I would loved to have heard her thoughts on The Servant, I like to think Dad would have enjoyed it, too.
The momentum is still going strong. Even as I publish The Servant tomorrow, I’ve already completed three drafts of my next novel, Sniper. This book is coming together very quickly, though I have learned not to commit to a publication date until I’m really sure it’s ready. Stay tuned for that one.
The Servant will be available tomorrow (7/1/2014) as a Kindle eBook, in paperback from Amazon, and in a variety of eBook formats from http://www.smashwords.com. It should also soon be available as an eBook from Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and other e-reading platforms but that might take a few days.