Looking back over this past year’s events — worldwide and more specifically here in the United States — “storm” is a pretty good word to include in a book title — uh, metaphorically speaking.
Last night it occurred to me that probably four or five years from now I would look back on this book and understand it better in hindsight. So much has happened in the past year I honestly don’t think I’ve begun to process it all. I suspect a lot of what I’ve been feeling and dealing with subconsciously came out in this new book. Well, if that is case, writing is indeed good therapy. I just wish to hell I knew what I meant by it all.
This book runs just over 100,000 words, and came in at 292 pages when formatted for publication. It is a good deal shorter than I anticipated. I think that’s because there is so much I left out. Not the plot; the entire plot plays out, but I do believe a lot is left unsaid, and if I had included everything that was going through my mind it would have been twice as long. So why did I leave it out? I’m not entirely sure, but the whole time I was writing I had a feeling that whoever read it would understand all of the under-the-surface emotions without having to have it explained to them. That’s a bold thing for a writer to do. Oh, writers have been doing that for years, of course, but one runs the risk of being misunderstood. No one wants to send their child out into the world to be mocked or misunderstood. Trust me, it is the same with books, especially when the characters are as dear to one as the HANDYMAN characters are to me. Funny thing, though; I’m not too worried about it. If nothing else, this book, although part of a series conceived many years ago and set thirty years in the past, is a pandemic child. I believe anyone who has survived this past year will somehow understand what this child is and how it was shaped by the turbulent times in which we now live.
As for the story itself, I’m reluctant to reveal much about it. I really want people who have read the first five books to read this one with no preconceived notions from me. I will say this much, though. The original plot came to me more than ten years ago. What hit the page is a good deal different from that idea. The actions in books four and five had a lot to do with the subtle changes. And again, I’m somehow convinced it would have been a different book if written in a different time. Ah, who knows? I could be full of insight or full of shit. I’ve been full up on both many times in my life. We’ll see. The most important thing any reader needs to know when beginning their journey with THE HANDYMAN’S STORM is that the characters are true to themselves and Porterfield, Indiana, is still a beautiful but occasionally ugly place. Penfield Manor stands strong upon the earth on which it was built in 1898, and it’s still an oasis from a world than can be very cruel. And I’ll tell you, no matter how much musing or analysis I may indulge in, that’s exactly what I set out to do with this book; continue the story of Ed, his partner, his family, and his friends; indulge in the minutiae of their lives, and give readers a chance to hang out in a place that is comfortable, familiar — even safe. The concept of a “safe space” is mocked a lot these days, but whether anyone wants to admit it or not, we’ve all been in a need of a least one during this dark time. I am proud, pleased, and humbled to provide one in this fictional world I’ve created. So…relax, read, enjoy…and be safe.
And enjoy the record I share below, ’cause we all can use shelter from our storms.