Introduction to OUTSIDE THE DOG MUSEUM
I have often felt and written that one of the great tragedies of life is too often we don’t understand or recognize when things are as good as they will ever get. That evening at the Greek taverna watching the sunset over the Aegean while chatting about this and that but nothing special were some of the most romantic hours you’ll ever experience. However you only realized that years later in retrospect. The October afternoon you sat together on the floor of your empty new apartment waiting for the furniture to be delivered while deciding what was to go where, mapping out the contours of your new life together, was in hindsight one of the best afternoons of your life. Nothing momentous took place but everything you could possibly want or hope for then was right there inside those new four walls, the keen odor of freshly refinished wood floors the day’s perfume. I could go on, but you get the point.
I wrote OUTSIDE THE DOG MUSEUM during the happiest time of my life. The best part of the experience was for some blessed reason, I kn-ew it; knew that those days, my writing, my contact with other people were all on some kind of elevated plane I had never experienced before. The protagonist of the story, Harry Radcliffe, was no problem to conjure because unlike so many other characters I had created, I knew the guy inside and out from page one. When I sat down every day to tell the story, all I had to do was sit back and let him talk. He did all the work and I just helped out by taking down what he said. Really, the process went just like that. When he said something funny I laughed because he said it and I felt like I was hearing it for the first time, rather than as words I’d carefully ordered in my head before putting them on paper. I write my books by hand before typing them on the computer. I tell you that because I vividly remember Harry talked so fast sometimes that I literally couldn’t keep up with his monologue and in my head I’d say ‘Slow down, willya? I’m writing as fast as I can.”
So when I think of DOG MUSEUM I think of it as a gift from the gods written during days that were as juicy and delicious as August watermelon. Harry is a good guy; I think you’ll like him besides the fact he’s unfaithful, cranky, a megalomaniac, and just off having had a nervous breakdown. And oh yes—as part of his therapy he’s seeing a shaman who’s teaching him to fly….
Introduction to AFTER SILENCE
AFTER SILENCE is one of two realistic novels I’ve written. At the time it came into being, I’d grown tired of reading reviews of my books that too often said things like “Ho hum—here’s another Carroll novel with the requisite talking dogs, flying children, and shamans.” So stubborn heart that I am I said okay, the next book I’m writing is going to be entirely realistic with not one talking dog or shaman in it. What’s more, it’s going to be at least in part a big love story which might be the toughest kind to write because let’s face it, that is a subject most people feel they know a lot about, for better or worse.
Only once in my life have I ever had unconscious inspiration for something I’ve written. I’m almost ashamed to admit that just about the entire idea for AFTER SILENCE came to me one night in a dream. I won’t tell you what happened in the dream because that would ruin the story you are about to read. But I remember very distinctly opening my eyes the next morning and saying “Wow!” The next thing I did was reach for a pen and a piece of paper to write the dream down before I forgot even an inch of it.
The first line of the novel was originally this: “I hold a gun to my son’s head. He weighs about one hundred and thirty pounds, the gun no more than two.” I wanted to grab you by the lapels from the very beginning because as a reader, I love it when a book does that to me from page 1 and doesn’t let go till the end. That line now comes in the second paragraph because my editor at the time said the image is so in-your-face aggressive and threatening that it might be better if I worked up to it a bit at the beginning. But I still hope this book takes firm hold and will be your new best friend for the time it takes to read it. The kind of friend whose stories are good and compelling enough to even make you miss your bus stop sometimes because you just have to know what happened next.