Please welcome John Mantooth to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Year of the Storm, John's debut novel, will be published on June 4, 2013. Broken Branch, an eNovella that includes a preview of The Year of the Storm, is out today
When I was a kid, I used to think about writing books a lot. I never really tried until I turned thirty, and was quite shocked to discover writing books was much harder than my kid self ever imagined. As a twelve-year-old it was easy: a good idea was all you needed. Then you came up with some characters and told a story about that good idea. Ironically, that is how it works (at least for me), but the process (my process) is quite painful. Maybe it’s good I didn’t understand this as a kid. If I had, I’d almost certainly taken a different path, leaving this book writing stuff for some other fool.
I started writing The Year of the Storm in April of 2009. Then it was Slip, and to be perfectly honest, I had no idea where it was going. Which, I think, sounds like a bad thing, but most definitely wasn’t. Let me explain.
I wanted to write a story about someone who disappears. Literally. Missing people have long fascinated me. I find the idea of a person just walking away from their lives strangely enticing, and the idea of someone vanishing from the world appeals to me, so I often spend inordinate amounts of time considering it. Assuming they don’t die (which wouldn’t really be vanishing would it?), where would they go? There’d have to be another world, a wrinkle in the fabric of our own that they’d stumbled into. A slip. There would have to be a slip.
So, I had my idea for my first novel. That was easy enough. My twelve-year-old self would be pleased. In deciding on that idea, I’d also vanquished an age-old truism I’d grown up hearing—write what you know. Yeah, maybe. Or, you could write about what obsesses you, what you don’t know, but want to know so badly it keeps you awake at night.
So I did. Only, it was hard going. Let me say that again. It was hard going. See, I had to figure out where my missing people were, how they got there and why, and most importantly, how they were going to get back, if they were going to get back. And all that coming up with characters stuff? Hard.
I wanted to quit about a dozen times. I did quit six or seven. But something always brought me back. It became a challenge. I wouldn’t let this book beat me, which brings me to something else twelve-year-old me never considered: it takes a special kind of fool to work his fingers to the bone on something that might end up languishing for eternity on his hard drive.
Being that special kind of fool, I eventually figured it all out. The book comes out June 4th, and I’m quite proud of it. The people disappear, and I know where they go (finally). You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Now I know what writing a book is like. I know it’s a long, arduous process during which you have to face the distinct possibility no one will like what you’ve written. You have to face that and keep on writing it anyway. Will I write another? Put it this way. I didn’t want to write this blog post. I had to pull myself away from the new novel, just to make time for it. See, I’m trying to figure something else out. It’s no easier than deciding where people go when they disappear. Might be more difficult, actually. This time I’m trying to figure out what makes a person do something they know is wrong. What makes them do it and what makes them keep doing it. It won’t be easy, but I’ll write and think and rewrite until I get to the bottom and figure it out. And when I do, I’ll have a second book. Maybe somebody will buy it. But maybe that’s not even the point. Maybe the point is doing what I’ve always wanted to do. Maybe the point is making that twelve-year-old that still lives inside of me proud.
The Year of the Storm
The Year of the Storm
Berkley, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
In this haunting, suspenseful debut novel, John Mantooth takes readers to a town in rural Alabama where secrets are buried deep, reality is relative, and salvation requires a desperate act of faith.
When Danny was fourteen, his mother and sister disappeared during a violent storm. The police were baffled. There were no clues, and most people figured they were dead. Only Danny still holds out hope that they’ll return.
Months later, a disheveled Vietnam vet named Walter Pike shows up at Danny’s front door, claiming to know their whereabouts. The story he tells is so incredible that Danny knows he shouldn’t believe him. Others warn him about Walter Pike’s dark past, his shameful flight from town years ago, and the suspicious timing of his return.
But he’s Danny’s last hope, and Danny needs to believe…
Berkley, May 7, 2013
Broken Branch, Alabama, serves as a refuge for the God-fearing, a shelter from the evils of the outside world. But who will protect them from the evil within?
Trudy first met Otto and James after World War I, two traveling ministers, preaching the good word to anyone who’d take the time to listen. Together, they founded Broken Branch, a hideaway in Alabama where the faithful would be able to isolate themselves from the impurity of the rest of the world and live blessed lives in the eyes of God.
But then the storms came, tearing apart their small compound, God’s punishment for hidden wickedness in their hearts. And when an old man wanders into Broken Branch, ranting about a secret hideaway and uncovers an old storm cellar that’s been hidden for years, Trudy begins to wonder what other secrets lie under the surface of their safe haven…
Includes a preview of The Year of the Storm
Shoebox Train Wreck, was released in March of 2012 from Chizine Publications. His debut novel, The Year of the Storm, is slated for a June 2013 release from Berkley. He lives in Alabama with his wife, Becky, and two children.
Website ~ Twitter @busfulloflosers