with Paul D. Marks
We are delighted to welcome back novelist Paul D. Marks to Omnimystery News today. Paul last visited with us in May 2012 just after his mystery White Heat (Timeless Skies Publishing; May 2012 trade paperback and ebook formats) was published … and subsequently won for a Shamus Award earlier this month from the Private Eye Writers of America for Best Indie PI Novel. Congratulations Paul!
Paul writes today about the next book in the series, an article he titles, "Thoughts on the B Story and Sequels".
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Photo provided courtesy of
Paul D. Marks
Since I'm getting ready to release Broken Windows, the sequel to White Heat, and as I'm working on the third book in the series, I've started thinking a lot about what I feel worked and didn't work in the first book. Also what I could have done better and what I want to achieve in future books. One thing that stands out is the way the B story integrates with the main story, as well as how the first book influences and improves the second.
I tried to do a lot of things in White Heat. I think most worked and some could have worked better. Often in mysteries we see a private eye working one case and only that one case, as if his job life is lived in a vacuum. So, one of the things I wanted to show is that a private eye works on more than one case at a time. To that end, I have Duke Rogers and his partner Jack Riggs work on the main case of Teddie Matson, an upcoming actress who is murdered and whose murder Duke has inadvertently contributed to. At the same time, Duke and Jack work a stalking case for a woman named Laurie Hoffman. Both cases run simultaneously in alternating chapters, though the main focus is on the Teddie Matson case.
The chapters that deal with Teddie are in Duke's first person point of view, while the Laurie Hoffman chapters are in third person. This doesn't seem to bother most people. But there was one reviewer on Amazon who mentioned that she didn't like it. I didn't think it would be a problem as the POV only changes in different chapters, not within them, so I didn't think it would be confusing or an issue. But each to his/her own taste.
In White Heat, the two stories or cases aren't really connected, except in the sense that through the Laurie Hoffman case, Duke gains insight into why the Weasel, as Duke refers to the bad guy in Teddie's case, stalked Teddie. Duke gains this insight through confronting Laurie's stalker and applying those insights to the Teddie Matson case, but otherwise the two stories don't really interconnect. My original intention was not necessarily to have them interconnect, but to show a private eye working multiple cases at one time and from one case he gleans insight into the other.
I liked and still like the idea of having more than one thing going on at the same time. So in Broken Windows, the sequel, I have Duke cashing in on his new-found notoriety and fame as he handles new clients. However, there is a B story in alternating chapters again. This time the B story is about Eric, a young lawyer who's lost his job because of an ethics violation. He's now living in a crummy Venice walk-up and is desperate for money. Instead of him being a client of Duke's, which would make it parallel to the B story in White Heat, Eric's story initially seems unrelated to Duke, his case or anything to do with him.
But if that were all, I'd be writing two separate novels under one cover. So, eventually, as the novel progresses, Eric's story and Duke's investigation come together on a collision course where their meeting is inevitable.
The problem here is trying to keep the reader interested in both stories at the same time, especially as we know that Duke and Jack are the main characters. So in the beginning one might wonder who the hell this Eric dude is and why is he here? However, because readers have read plenty of stories and have certain expectations, they will assume that somehow these "stories" will interconnect at some point. But my job as the writer is to keep both interesting and exciting enough to keep the reader interested until the inevitable clash comes. And I hope I've done that. Time will tell when Broken Windows is released.
Even though White Heat is my first published novel, I am an experienced writer in other areas. But one never stops learning or trying to hone their craft. If I were to reread White Heat today I'm sure I'd find a hundred things I'd want to change. One tries to take those things and improve them the next time around.
So that's where I am now as I work on book three in the series. It will be interesting to see how readers respond to Broken Windows and that will probably influence how I write book three. And I will be just as interested as readers to find out more about Duke and Jack along the way.
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Paul D. Marks is the author of over thirty published short stories in a variety genres, ranging from noir to straight mystery, satire to serious fiction. He has also published numerous magazine/periodical articles as well as having done film work. In a former life, Paul was a script doctor, making his living from optioning screenplays of his own and rewriting other people's scripts or developing their ideas. He holds the distinction of being the last person to have shot on the fabled MGM backlot before it was torn down to make way for housing.
For more information about Paul and his work, please visit his website at PaulDMarks.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.
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Paul D. Marks
A Duke Rogers Mystery