One of the odd questions one gets asked when one is stood around at an event by a display of books you have written is ‘which would you recommend?’ I have strong feelings for all my novels, for a variety of reasons in each case, I suspect every writer does. So clearly I would recommend them all.
That said, occasionally people refine the question a little and ask something along the lines of ‘If I was to read one of them which would you recommend most. To that I have an answer, its always the same answer, and I suspect no matter how much I love everything else I have written or will go on to write it will remain the answer. Because if there is one book that is the absolute soul of me as a writer, it is Passing Place.
Cider Lane is the novel I wrote to prove to myself as much as anyone that I could write a novel. The Hannibal novels, Maybe, all the short stories in anthology’s like the Harvey Duckman books or my own little anthologies were more or less written for fun, and the joy of the thing. But Passing place is the book I always wanted to write. The book, more specifically the kind of book, I dreamed about writing when I was a teenager back in the dim, distant, big hair and dark eyeliner days of 1980’s. It’s the kind of book I wanted to write in my twenties, and toyed with in my thirties, and finally, over the course of five years I wrote in my mid forties, with noticeably less hair and even less eyeliner…
It took five years, though in the course of that five years I wrote and published another novel and started two more. But still from the first version of the first chapter to finally going in to print Esqwith’s Piano bar and grill, the Passing Place was more or less where my ide spent its time.
I often say novels are slithers of a writers souls, because I am pretentious at times, but to me this remains true. A writer, if they are doing it properly, puts a lot of themselves into their novels. Every novel… But Passing place is the novel that took the majority of mine.
Ironically of course, it is also probably my least successful novel, because its very hard to Pidgeon hole into a specific genre. However of late it has received some frankly stunning reviews. Which is to say the reviews stun me… Not least because they are reviews from my peers
That last review from American author Joseph Carrabis is the short version of a review which frankly astounded me when I read the full one. Its on his blog (which is always a good read aside this review) here.
All of this frankly unexpected love for Passing Place coincided with the 5th anniversary of the novel being published.
It also marks the point, five years after the first novel, that I have finally got to the point where I have the sequel firmly planned. I was missing something vital from the next book that has stopped me writing it until now, that being the central character (though I wasn’t aware that was what was missing I just knew something wasn’t there yet…) So it took five years to write the first novel, five more to figure out how to write the second , and it will probably take me five years to write it, around ever other project I have going on.
But finally, for those few who have been waiting, I am returning to the Passing Place, to Richard the Piano Player, Greyman, Jolene, Lyall, Sonny, Morn and the cat… Something red is coming…. Another slither of my soul…
This is something I though some people might want to know…