Sunday, January 13, 2013

Looking at My Brother's Keeper

My Brother's Keeper isn't the first novel I've written or completed, but it was the first one I completed that hit the level where it was publishable.  Like a lot of my writing, it followed the habit of focusing on the place I just left.  Since I was calling Fairbanks, Alaska, home (aka the middle of nowhere in Alaska) that meant for some reason while enjoying life around me I was also reflecting back on my home state of Iowa.

The synopsis is fairly straight forward.  Gyle is a young teenage loner in a small town high school, dealing with constant bullying and being an outsider while going home to a neglectful family.  When he meets the charismatic and enigmatic Brent, he sees a father figure, someone to emulate, and a true friend offering a better life.  As Brent mentors Gyle, one by one his secrets begin to to emerge, painting a very different picture than the one in Gyle's mind and leading to a fierce and violent confrontation where Gyle not only has to face his old mentor, but also the fears and demons within himself.

Coming of age meets suspense thriller meets young adult (not to be mistaken with juvenile).  I wrote this during the long dark winters in Fairbanks, and actually went five or six chapters before ever coming up with a title.  The title "My Brother's Keeper" came into my head.  I was notorious for taking 2 am or 3 am walks in between bouts of typing up in the writing center, even when it was -40 degrees in winter, and during one of these times my mind became very quiet (which never happens with me) and then out of that complete silence the title was just there.  A literal inspiration. 

I loved it, thought the title fit perfectly, so I ran with it.  This book was my thesis which helped me earn my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in creative writing, and eventually would receive about 100 publisher rejections, but 20 of which were actually hand written or had hand written comments.  Writers know how freaking amazing that is.  The word "publishable" and "enjoyable" came up more than once.  Finally I decided it was time to move on, so I published my book on Amazon Kindle.

This blog is here to promote my book, but also talk about the writing process, how this work affected me, and what it's about under the surface.  Thanks for coming along, and if you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for??