Does anyone read novels anymore? You want to know a secret? It takes a lot to get me reading one from start to finish. I had a good rash of fiction finishing the other month. I read a few Scandanavian novels. Mysteries. Murders.

There’s even a little mystery and murder in Tracing the Bones, which will be with us in the spring. You can glimpse the book cover on my social media outlets.

But there’s still more to do to get it ready. Edits, blurbs, sales, publicity, printing…

A week or so ago, I had to go over it for a last round of edits. I was afraid to read it. There are loads of authors and artists who feel the same way about their work—that once it’s done, it’s of no interest and worse, all they’ll see upon revisiting it are the mistakes. Well, I found mistakes and corrected them, but overall I had a pretty decent reading experience. I laughed out loud, because I can’t not make fun of stuff, even when I’m trying to be dark and moody, but I also got swept up in the misery the characters experienced, and the racy sex scenes. Ooh la la.

All right then. This is about as far as I feel comfortable going hawking my wares.

In other literary news, my nine-year old daughter announced to her dad and me that the last novel she read made her cry. She was really moved by this experience. The book was Whiskers the Lonely Kitten, and it was an emotional roller coaster. Our eleven year old son remembers the first book that made him cry. It was Hero. But he didn’t cry during the book. He cried when it was over. Because there was no more left to read. The world, in a way, had come to an end.

I don’t remember the first book that made me cry. But the first book I felt addicted to was Go Ask Alice, which I later found out was a fraud. I couldn’t put it down. It made my heart race. Another novel that felt like a drug was The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. Then there was The Boys in the Mail Room, which was the first book that got me all hot and bothered. I was at camp, sitting there on a bench in my tube socks, camp shirt and track shorts. Braces. Feathered hair. I was so inspired by that experience that I tried my hand at writing soft porn that very summer down at the lake in my doodled-on diary. Early novelist inklings that took me years to take seriously.

So yeah, ahem, I’ve cried at movies galore but when a book makes you cry, or laugh, or get terrified or aroused, there’s something deeper going on—something far more personal and private. What we witness on the screen is the same thing every viewer witnesses. Sure we have our own individual phenomenologies that spark slightly different definitions and connotations but with a book, everything we visualize comes from our own imaginations. The characters look different. The settings take on characteristics of their own. Lines of dialogue are delivered in infinite ways, through varying voices, dialects, accents… Not to mention that books take commitment—days or weeks. And they’re read mostly alone—in bed, on subways, in the passenger seat of cars whipping through mall-dotted towns.

It’s increasingly difficult to focus on any one thing for a substantial amount of time. But when a novel sweeps you up in its paper arms, it’s a romance worth savoring.

Okay one more shill: earlier versions of Tracing the Bones excerpts have been published here and here. Perhaps you take a look. Maybe they will entice you to read the whole thing in the spring. Until then, ask yourself: what was the first book that made you horny? cry?

lots of love,