If you're subscribed to my author mailing list, you've heard about this just a bit, as I announced it in my newsletter last week. But I'd like to talk more about it here now.
This book is called Murder Most Foul, and it's a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet set in 1940s California. If that sounds awfully familiar, yes, I first had this idea ten years ago, and I wrote it up as a fake movie review right here back in 2013.
I have loved that idea ever since, but I was always so busy writing other things, I just never got around to trying to flesh it out. Well, you may recall that I broke my arm back in June. Typing was good therapy for getting my hand and arm muscles back in shape, but at that time, I was revising My Rock and My Refuge, and that involved a lot more using the mouse rather than straight typing. So, I thought, what could I work on a bit now and then that would be typing new words, not fussing with revising already written things?
That's when I remembered Murder Most Foul. I thought, you know, if I tried hard, I could write the whole first draft before Christmas, and I could give it to my friend Cheryl, who was even nuttier about Hamlet than I am... or, at least, just as nutty. Cheryl and I became friends before my oldest kid was born, so at least 16 years ago. Probably closer to 20. We bonded over our shared love of Hamlet and Combat! and Vic Morrow, initially. Although we never met, we corresponded by email and snail mail all that time. We sent each other obscure adaptations of Hamlet on DVD, and lots of other fun little things too, over the years. A retelling of Hamlet as a 1940s murder mystery would tickle her to no end.
So, I started writing, sometime in July, just a paragraph or a two at a time. Slow work, but very satisfying. I loved seeing this world and these characters come to life. I would grin like a little kid whenever I was working on it because everything was gelling so perfectly.
I got about three chapters into it... and Cheryl died.
This wasn't super unexpected -- she'd had cancer about eight years ago, and the treatments for that had taken a hard toll. She'd been living in an assisted living facility for a long time, pretty much ever since she beat cancer. Occasional bouts of pneumonia were the most-serious thing I'd heard of in recent times, but she was in her 70s and not in great health. At the same time, her recent letters had been upbeat. So, her death was a surprise.
I stopped writing Murder Most Foul. I'd had such a great time imagining how much Cheryl would enjoy it that, with her gone, I couldn't work on it anymore.
I finished My Rock and My Refuge and launched it into the world in November, and breathed a sigh of relief because I intended to take a couple of months off from writing and just enjoy watching lots of movies and reading lots of books.
That's when I suddenly felt the need to work on Murder Most Foul again. I realized I loved it too much to abandon it. Even though I couldn't give it to Cheryl for Christmas, I could still finish it. I could dedicate it to her memory. And, maybe I could even write it quickly enough that it would still be finished before Christmas. I could give it to my best friend/writing mentor/editor as a gift instead!
I did not finish it before Christmas.
In fact, I finished it at the verrrrrrrry end of February, with two days to spare before a planned trip out to see my bestie. I really wanted to surprise her with a new book to read when I got to her place, and I did it!
So, yes, I will have a new book coming out later this year that is NOT part of my Once Upon a Western series. It's not a western at all, or a fairy tale retelling. It's not even exactly the same as that fake movie review I wrote ten years ago, though it does have the same basic cast in mind. But I love it a lot, and I hope a lot of you will too.
I’m sorry to hear about your friend. But excited for your accomplishment!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Anonymous :-)Delete
A NEW BOOK! And one set in the 1940s, no less! This is so exciting! :DReplyDelete
I'm sorry to hear about your friend's passing. That is always hard. *sends hugs* I know she would be proud and happy for you finishing the book anyway, though.
Katie, yes, indeedy! I am absolutely enamored of it right now, so I have to set it aside until I can get some distance from it. I know it needs a lot of fleshing out toward the end, as I got kinda rushed and just hurried to finish the first draft, hee.Delete
Yes, losing a friend is hard, even when you've never met them face to face. I found out she died in kind of an odd way (I sent her a care package, and it got returned with "deceased" marked on it), and it kind of... stunned me. Like, I wasn't quite sure HOW to grieve for her, for a while. But I think writing MMF really helped me work through her loss.
Buckle up, kiddos!! This is gonna be fantastic. :D :DReplyDelete
Olivia, heh heh, well, you would know! ;-) Thanks so much for your support!Delete
Congratulations! Dedicating it to Cheryl's memory is most fitting.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Antoinette! I think so too.Delete
Oh that's a great story. I wish Cheryl could have read it but I'm glad others can!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Lisa! Yeah, I'm sad I didn't start it much earlier, but at least I am not abandoning it forever.Delete
Oooooo, I adore the Noir genre, both in literature and film! I look forward to reading your "Murder Most Foul" when you publish it in due course. I dabble a bit in Noir myself. You can read my various posts here, including my satirical short story full of Noir tropes (and cats) "The Big Sleazy" --ReplyDelete
Thanks, Debra! I do too -- Raymond Chandler is my favorite author for a reason ;-) That's cool you've dabbled in it a bit too!!!Delete
This is incredible! You're an amazingly productive writer and an inspiration, congratulations!ReplyDelete
Thank you, VT! It seems I enjoy writing so much, I just can't help doing it even when I told myself I didn't have to :-o Lol!Delete
Congratulations, Rachel. This sounds so interesting. I love how you manage to take classic established stories and characters and transform them into something new. So sorry about, Cheryl. MaddyReplyDelete
Thank you, Maddy! I do enjoy building a new story on an old framework, so to speak.Delete
Thanks for your condolences. I still forget sometimes she's gone.
I'm so sorry about your friend. Losing someone is always hard. <3ReplyDelete
Congrats on your book though. That's a lovely accomplishment and fun thing to anticipate.
Thanks, Rissi. Yeah, it is.Delete
I'm really eager to dig back into it in a couple of months and revise it!
Sorry to hear about your friend, Cheryl. On the other hand, congrats about the book. Glad to hear that you went back and finished it.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Maniac. It's been a little tricky figuring out how to mourn a friend I haven't met, but knew quite well. Writing the book was really cathartic in that way. And I love how it's turning out :-)Delete