Wednesday, June 1, 2011

David McAfee on writing THE DEAD WOMAN

This was a new experience for me. When Lee Goldberg emailed me and asked if I would like to do a story in a series he and William Rabkin had created called THE DEAD MAN, I accepted because it sounded like a great opportunity to help spread my work around, but I had my doubts I could pull it off. Not because I doubted my chops, but because I wasn’t sure I could write a story in what was, essentially, someone else’s universe. Matt Cahill already had a well-defined personality and back story in place, and they would dictate his reactions and thoughts. Usually, I let the characters do that while I discover who they are. Since Matt already existed, it presented a set of challenges I’d never faced before, and I just wasn’t sure I could operate within those confines. Still, I figured I’d give it a shot. I sent Lee a very basic synopsis of the story idea I had for the series. He emailed me back and gave me the green light, and off I went.
It turned out to be the most fun I’ve had writing in years.
Matt Cahill is an extremely interesting character to write, and it is partially because those guidelines have already been established that I was able to write with such freedom. I didn’t have to worry about establishing character, and instead I stuck him where I wanted and ran with it. The result of this is a novella I am extremely proud of. That’s not to say I couldn’t have done better - I always read over my work and find things I could tweak - but I’m pleased with the end result. I hope the readers will enjoy it, too.
My son was born just before I began writing THE DEAD WOMAN, and for a while it was rough finding the time to spend on the project. It helped that Lee did not establish a deadline. I kinda did that on my own when I told him I would have a draft to him by Tax Day. As the date got closer and my son let us sleep less and less, I started to worry. There were some days I didn’t get to write anything at all. Fortunately I made it by the deadline. Barely.
THE DEAD WOMAN also marks the first time I’ve ever worked with a real copy editor. Up ‘till now it’s just been me and whatever my friends could catch. I have to say that was fun. I can see why it would get less fun over time, because it requires you to go back and revisit areas of the book you thought were done, but for a first timer like me, it was a blast.
And that’s how I would describe my experience writing the book and THE DEAD MAN series in general: A Blast. I had a lot of fun. Hopefully it shows in the writing.
Thank you, Lee, for the great opportunity. May this series last for decades!

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