Until recently, Temple’s parents lived in Tyler, Texas, about a three-hour drive from our home near Waco. We visited her parents a handful of times each year, and during the long drive to and from we often discussed story ideas. This, inevitably, led to discussions of plots, characters, and settings, and by the time we returned home from each trip, we had generated and fleshed out one or more story ideas that I ultimately turned into finished manuscripts, including “Smoked,” which was reprinted in The Best American Mystery Stories 2018.
|My mobile workstation.|
There is something about being behind the wheel of a car on a long trip that liberates my mind to free associate in a way that I do not often do when sitting at a keyboard. Other than the attention I must pay to the traffic around me, there are no distractions. The cats aren’t walking on my keyboard. The dog doesn’t need to go out. Email doesn’t ding with incoming messages. I can’t get sucked into a rabbit hole of increasing internet research of decreasing value. And online word games don’t lure me from the task at hand.
It helps, of course, that Temple sits beside me with notepad and pen in hand. We bounce ideas back and forth, and she makes note of the best ones. The notes might include a rough plot outline or might be little more than a title or character name or inciting incident.
Upon arriving at her parents’ home, while Temple visited with her family, I would sometimes disappear into the sunroom to turn the notes into something more by thumb typing or dictating into my phone. Upon returning home, I would spend the next few days turning the more detailed notes, rough plots, and partially completed scenes into finished manuscripts.
That, unfortunately, is about to end. Temple’s mother passed away last September, and her father recently purchased a home half a dozen blocks from us. When he completes the move from Tyler, our long drives will be a thing of the past.
We are likely to visit her father more often, but there will barely be enough time during the drive (or the walk, in good weather) to his new home to discuss extremely short stories. The end result could be a rash of flash fiction.
Or it could mean we must find a new destination for our drives, someplace about three hours away that offers a good meal, great company, and sufficient incentive to break our daily routine, get in the car, and go.
“...violent surprises...fast-paced and very hard-boiled.” A 4-Star Review—Detroit Free Press
“All White Girls is a one-sitting, in-your-face, hard-boiled mystery; and it’s damn good.”—I Love A Mystery
“...a gritty novel where almost everyone has an interest in the dark side of human nature.”—Blue Iris Journal
“...a driving pace that keeps the reader engaged from cover to cover.”—Judas
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