Round Robin: The Books We Haven’t Written Yet – Part I

Turdus Migratorius, aka American Robin

Janet Dawson: Okay, fellow Perseverance Press bloggers – I know we’ve all got a million words percolating around in our heads.

What book would you like to write, but for one reason or another, you haven’t yet written said book? And why? Not enough time? Not the right time? Not a viable project? Needs more research than you’re willing to do right now? Is it likely we’ll see this project in the future? Or will it forever remain in the desk drawers of your brain? Here’s Part I.

Lev Raphael: I’d like to write a WW II mystery with my late mother fictionalized as the sleuth, because my father told me recently that she had actually done some spy work at one point. Her sharp intellect and gift for languages would be perfect in that genre. The amount of research involved staggers me, and every time I think I might get to it, another book crops up, like my Gilded Age romance Rosedale in Love and my Austen mash-up Pride and Prejudice: the Jewess and the Gentile. Those took up several years and looking ahead, I have three other books I would like to write that will take less time: another mystery, another memoir, and a Regency-era mystery. Well, there’s always next decade . . .

Nancy Means Wright: In Mexico a number of years back, I saw a swarthy-skinned young man grab at a white-haired lady’s purse. She screamed, hit him on the head with the swinging purse – and he burst into tears. And then to my amazement, lady and thief embraced.

Why did she let him go? What was his/her backstory? Was there true remorse on his part? Did each change the other’s life in some way? Did he ultimately steal her money and harm her? Or was she a wacko? The story haunted me.

By the time my plane landed in Burlington, Vermont a week later, I had some fifty scribbled pages and three possible endings in my head. But then life interfered, along with myriad deadlines and a new grandchild. Years later I encountered a Mexican working on a local Vermont farm, and thought about that ill-matched pair again – but couldn’t find the pages and notes I’d scrawled. Until I began packing to move this past summer, and they came to light, half shredded by mice, in a box of old manuscripts. But again I had to put them aside.

I’m working on a new novel, and revising a YA manuscript under contract. I have to move on, I told myself, not back. I must meet my deadlines. And, alas, those don’t include an old lady embracing a thief! On the other hand, I might be able to at least work  that scene into the new mystery novel. One of my characters might hit this rogue on the head with the heel of her 18th-century slipper and then . . .

Laura Crum: Many years ago I was very keen to write a non-fiction book about gardening (think Vita Sackville-West). Gardening interests me almost as much as my horses do, and I have done a great deal of research on the subject. I actually did write this book and my agent came very close to getting it published. But close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as they say. The ms is still lying around in some drawer or other, but as my passion for these garden books has somewhat worn itself out, I doubt I will revisit the project again. Every now and then someone asks me about it and I wonder a little . . . what if?

Jeanne Dams: I’ve had some books on the back burner for years, but I’ve never seemed to find the time to write them. One is a sort of David and Goliath story, not a mystery, but the story of a small-town’s fight to save its character, its very soul, from a faceless corporation, with a bittersweet ending. One is a thriller involving the Indiana State Penitentiary at Michigan City and a massive tornado. A third, which has taken a definite form in my mind only recently, is a book of meditations which I’ve thought of calling Musings About God and His People. One problem, of course, is that I need to find a publisher before I can devote a lot of time to a book, since my income is very small. I’ve written bits of all three books, and they keep nagging at me, but I don’t know if they’ll ever see the light of day.

Lea Wait: I have an area of my study devoted to unwritten (so far) books. Green, blue and yellow file folders marked with key words that mean nothing to anyone but me (it IS my study) hold notes, paragraphs, character studies, sources to check, and, in even, in some cases, notebooks full of research materials that have at some point fascinated me, and may someday again. Why have none of them become books?

Because another book was under contract. Because my agent said, “it’s not the right time,” for a certain subject. Because I started to fill out a plot and got so stuck I moved on to another idea. Another folder. Two books – one set in 1778 and one in 1848 – I’ve completed the research for, and even outlined. One was to be the sequel for a book that’s contract fell through and was never published. The other my agent had serious doubts about, so I didn’t write it. I want to. I still may. Maybe soon. But for now the brightly colored folders stand there, reminding me that there is always another book to write.

When the one I’m working on now is hitting a wall, sometimes I pick up one of those other folders and write a little, or do a little research, or a little plot thickening. Who knows? That might be the next book I write. In the meantime, it’s waiting for me. Always in the back of my mind. Just waiting.

Janet Dawson: I seem to have six or seven books in my head, wondering if I’ll ever have time to write them all. Several of these ideas are historical novels a’birthing. There’s one that takes place in New Mexico in the 1870s, at the time of the Lincoln County War. I’ve been thinking about it and doing research for quite some time. Then there’s the California Gold Rush plot, the Colorado plot.

I have an idea for a historical mystery that’s set in Alameda, the town where I live, taking place right at the end of World War I. Another idea is set in the Bay Area during World War II. I also have a plot, and a first chapter, coming from the 1970s, based on my experiences in the Navy on Guam. That book has echoes back to World War II. Hmm, war, conflict, mystery. I see a pattern here.

In addition to all of these, I have some contemporary plots in mind, one a standalone and another entry in the Jeri Howard series. Plus I’m having such fun writing the train book I might write another one.

* * *

Hey, there’s more. Check back tomorrow for Part II!


6 Responses

  1. What tantalizing ideas from such energetic writers! Maybe an easier question for this group would be: is there a book you don’t want to write?

  2. Maybe we should get together online in another year or two to see if any of us have returned to our might-writes.
    But fun to see the dreams/schemes of others. And great to be together in a sort of lost and found box.

  3. I was a writer before I decided publishing and editing were more enjoyable. The first book idea I had was a mystery set along the Calif. coast in “Crescent Bay” i.e. Santa Cruz. The protag was a young mother, and it involved footprints in the sand above the low tide line. Early Sesame Street (“Go backwards!” repeated by her son) was a vital clue. I also planned an unlikable villain and her victim (the latter my thinly disguised ex-husband). Today it’d be called cozy chick lit; in the 70s that term hadn’t been invented.

    I put that aside when the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics inspired 4 years of researching and writing my mystery Death Spiral. I thought about a sequel, but didn’t get much beyond the title, Death Drop (also a figure skating move).

    After that I decided that I’d rather help other people write than do it myself!

    • Meredith, you should go forth — and try again! With all your great editorial comments you should be able to write a terrific book. Maybe not one of those early efforts — but a new, and better, one!

      I loved this blog. And, Nancy — you HAVE to write the book with the Mexican vignette as its basis. If not, it will haunt me … I’ve already thought of several plots that scene could be the basis for ….


  4. It’s great to see so many of my favorite authors are still churning out ideas for new books. I hope each of you will find time to write them and a publisher to ensure that readers like me can enjoy them.

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