A friend of mine, Leigh Evans, just told me that she was holding the Arc of her first book in her hand. “There’s my brain, out there for everyone to see,” she told me. It was both terrifying and intensely exciting, like going over Niagara Falls – with or without a barrel.
Even after three decades, I can remember the moment I experienced that thrill for myself. But I never thought of my first book, “Sweet and Deadly,” as a piece of my brain; I used the more conventional image of a baby, my baby. Leigh’s “brain” simile is much more interesting.
Nothing is closer to psychoanalysis than writing a book. There are your foibles and your fears, your persistent unfinished business, your pictures of what constitute happiness.
Since I’ve written quite a few novels (now that I’m thinking about it), I wonder what people know about me that I don’t know. I’ve gotten surprised a time or two. At one signing, a reader said, “You really have a problem with brothers, don’t you?” I was surprised and started to deny it, when I realized that all the brothers in my book were problematical in some respect. Some loved their sisters too much, some were so self-involved their sisters hardly registered . . . huh. I felt uncomfortable as I wondered what I’d been saying about the distant relationship I had with my older brother, who’s been dead and gone for many years.
There’ve been occasions I changed the plotline or characters in a book because I realized I was building them according to a pattern that was pleasing to my brain; a recurring pattern, that echoed somewhere in my psyche.
So thanks, Leigh, for giving a different way to look at my work. There are my brains, people!
As I told Leigh, “Let’s hope members of the reading public are all zombies.”
P.S. Since I stole Leigh’s line, let me just tell you all that her book, out in December 2012, is “The Trouble With Fate.”