September 2, 2018
Iíve been thinking: what does a story mean?
Itís because I just published a new novel, Caliban Risingóitís a thriller, and I hope it means: ďKeep turning those pages!Ē
You sneak onto a mysterious Caribbean island. Nice beaches, but nasty murders. Maybe you get hurled out of a Black Hawk helicopter, or fed to the islandís feral Bengal tiger. Also, there are creepy robotsÖ.
Will you survive?
Every thriller, I think, underneath, means just that: danger besets us.
We lead thriller lives.
A young physician we knew walked out of a movie theater, with a bag of popcorn, and collapsed on the sidewalk, deadópeanut allergy. Somehow, that popcorn came in contact with peanut dust.
An SUV (inattentive driver) struck a woman we knew, and killed her, as she crossed a small townís Main Street. Weíve known decent people, living enthusiastically, brought down by cancer, or Parkinsonís, or ventricular fibrillation.
Sometimes itís your well-being thatís endangered. We know a hard-working man whose corporation (think Enron) abruptly collapsed. No job. No pension. At age fifty-something, start over, from zero.
Hereís another executive thriller tale: a friend of ours discovered a colleague got hold of his resume, then secretly mailed it to other corporations. This corporate Iago wanted our friend hired away.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Whatís lurking along your own path, or in your blood stream? Every thriller whispers that question. Every thriller asks: how will you cope?
In a novel, at least, courage saves the day, and doing right. Usually. Sort of.
So that feels good.
August 4, 2017
This Caribbean island looks serene, but don't kid yourself
Lately I worry a lot about who to kill off.
Donít call the policeóIím talking about characters in the thriller Iím currently writing.
I donít mind offing bad guys, because they fully deserve it. Every one of them, believe me. Itís the good characters who trouble me, imaginary people Iíve come to like and respect.
Iím writing this novel, so I suppose Iím Zeus, and I get to decide who dies and who lives. However, the truth is that the story itself is king of the gods, with its own wishes and demands and requirements. Authors are soothsayers. All we can do, really, is divine what the story wants and do its bidding.
For instance, this novel started as a pure thriller, set on a Caribbean island, but Iím about midway through now andóall on its ownóitís taken on a faint sci-fi tinge, although nothing that couldnít actually happen in the world today. Letís just hope it doesnít.
is the novelís title. So far, at least. Even in titles, the story will have its way, so weíll see.
Anyway, back to the question of good characters dying. For some reason, in our real world, weíve lately had a rash of people we know dying. People not yet in their fullness of years. Brain cancers, heart attacks, prostate cancer, rare disorders with unpronounceable namesÖ.
I suppose that what determines who dies too young is not goodness, not badness. Itís just how our story wants to be told.
May 8, 2017
This tableau of dinosaurs partially inspired one of Richardís fantasy stories, ďLast Days of the Cretaceous,Ē in his anthology, Frankie & Johnny, & Nellie Bly
Itís set in Atlantis, where aristocratic sportsmen hunt the tyrannosaurus rex.
Yes, dinosaurs disappeared long before humans showed up. We all know that.
Yet, hereís this convivial family, grazing at Floridaís Dinosaur World. It shows the huge reptiles and humans can co-exist, if the dinosaurs are made of concrete.
--Richard & Joyce
January 5, 2017
Richard Tries Out A Bike
In "Spider's Web in the Green Mountains," just published, why do mysterious motorcycles roar past the heroine's house in the night?
Why is a biker threatening her corgi, Henry?
Generally, what's with all these Harleys and Hondas?
In this photo, we see the author doing serious, in-depth research for his mystery, sitting on a parked motorcycle to get the feel of the thing.
It felt pretty good.
November 17, 2016
Vermont's mountains--just right for a murder mystery
I took this photograph in the Vermont mountains and it led to the novel Iíve just published, a mystery.
Itís about the people living in a small town, tucked away in these Green Mountains.
Everyone is connected. Itís as if an invisible spider web crisscrosses the town, every resident touched by its strands: loves, grievances, envies, kindnesses, marriages, divorces, business dealsÖ.
Spiderís Web in the Green Mountains
is the bookís title.
A murder perturbs the web.
It even affects a Pembroke Welsh corgi, Henry.
Another major character is Dill, Vermont, the town itself.
I know something about small towns, because I grew up in one, along the Hudson River. We live near a small town now. Itís just a five-minute drive down the mountainside.
Itís interesting to read the police report in the daily paper, lost wallets and domestics and hypodermic needles found in alleyways and wandering dogs.
No murders lately, but you never know.
Check out our published books
Stories published in literary journals
A "Pleistocene western," published in Reflections Edge
A nonfiction book of stories about disappearing animals, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An award-winning chronicle of life and caring in a small hospital, published in Smithsonian Magazine
Just when a terrifying illness strikes, a self-confident corgi appears on our deck, seeking a new home, and he becomes our guide.