Dec. 28, 2014

On Starting a New Book….

Introduction to El Peon

Eduardo Mora is a flawed man. With his wife Alba, he raises the three children (the protagonists in this story), in the traditional campo of rural Central America. Two of them are of his own blood.

After the Cold War ended and the plague of civil wars subsided on the isthmus, cultural changes in the rural setting of began to accelerate. By the time the oldest, Guito, is 50 and the other two in their early 30’s, technology and the global economy has put a smart phone in every teenager’s hand. People travel in closed loops, taking their homogenized, and longed for, new cultures with them. The traditional culture is well on its way to oblivion.

Each of the children grow into an adult with new opportunities yet still ensnared by a parent’s legacy. Each child chooses ways to play the hand they’d been dealt in a game that is changing as they play it.

Guito flees, Rigo stays and Aurelez tries to bend the world to her will.

This is their story. 

Author’s perambulations on writing and on El peon

  1. I knew when I had finished the first version of El Peon that I had not done justice to these characters. The excitement of visualizing the Candyman’s War story drew me away from revising Peon at that time. I had the basic ideas for changing Peon before Candyman finished, but writing William’s story was more exciting and I jumped into The Oligarch.  The epilogue (suggested by Lenny Karpman), to Oligarch has fired the imagination about Lela Itzel and I have about 20 pages written. “Ya basta,” as William says near the end of Oligarch; I’m going finish what I started.
  2. It early occurred to me that Guito’s experiences in Peon verged on magical realism. I believe it first came up in writer’s group. I had sent Candyman to the publisher in January and had reread most of García Márquez' A Hundred Years as I was laying into The Oligarch. Aguas Calientes (Prólogo) resulted after a few months of thinking—writing—thinking—etc. Multi-tasking has never been my strength. I can’t say how much, but working on two books simultaneously delayed Oligarch so that I missed the Christmas season. I hope it didn’t weaken the story but who can say for sure.
  3. The publishing period (after the “final” version is done), would seem to require less than a month, days even. That may be true for some but it is not for me. I keep getting ideas for the book even as I am formatting for publication; some of them are good ones. I need a finish goal of at least three months ahead of publication.
  4. Even during the writing of Candyman, I realized that I had underplayed the role of Aguas Calientes (then Monteverde) as a querencia, a refuge, for Guito. Guito was a wounded child and the place he fled to wanted to be more important to his transformation. In the first version of Peon, “place” was a sweet cameo of a community where all the children were above average. That portrayal not only lacked realism but  reduced its impact as well. I decided to make the place a character and thus more important. That requires a fictional setting.  
  5. A few months ago I asked two advisors what they thought about this tack.  Greg Bascom advised that Guito’s new refuge-as-character not be so dominant as to wash out the uniqueness of Guito’s persona. His arc is essentially the story in that part. That will be a central tension in the new version, allowing Guito’s persona to be influenced by the place but creating an opportunity for him to stand up to the culture in maintaining his integrity. The story needs more conflict anyway and I have some ideas for that.
  6. “Spirituality, Spiritual path and Enlightenment.”  In “spiritual circles,” it is commonplace to hear some version of, “Enlightenment is not what you think it is.” In fiction, these words are tropes for God-only-knows-what. The meanings readers may attach are seemingly without limit. And, in fiction, they are overused and stale. I’m going to try to use language, including metaphors, which avoids those words as much as possible. They do make great market-segment descriptors for Google and Amazon however
  7. Spanish language (OMG, not that again). Guito in Spanish is not pronounced like Guido Sarducci in Italian. Saying it correctly needs explanation. I may need to change his name but I do like it. He is named after a local friend and his talents are modeled on another.
  8. The narrator. In the first version of Peon he is the “Gringo” who learned the story of this family through Rigo. I am thinking that he will either be eliminated or, in the violation of some for-certain-sacred-rule-of-novel-writing, be introduced in Part II (Rigo). Vamos a ver, maybe two narrators? 
  9. Passion versus Work. Writing is passion. Formatting is work.

Mike