The whole point of this blog was to have something with a history once I released another book.
About a decade ago I had a novel published, though that sounds haughtier than it really is. I had to pay a little bit, though not the typical vanity press fees. I had worked for a small publisher before and the fees seemed reasonable, because I was going to have the book edited and designed, or so I believed. In the end I was the editor and I wish I had been the cover designer. I lost all enthusiasm for the book once I got my copies and didn’t do a thing to market it. Friends and family who read it liked it, but what friend or family would say otherwise? Overall it was a nice learning experience and the book is a good reflection of where I was in my life before I got married. I thought there was valuable stuff for anyone in the story. The book sold a few dozen copies and you can still see it, or buy it, on Amazon. If the link doesn’t work, search for “Going Too Far” under “Steven Gardner.”
The desire to write books has never gone away. After 10 years of reporting I believed I’ve learned a lot about telling stories and plan to use whatever skills I have to tell my own growing up story. The story ends as I leave my family to begin serving my LDS mission. I hesitated for a long time to write the story, because I didn’t know what kind of hook I could have that would make the autobiography. Eventually I just started writing some of the stories I remembered in hopes that one day I’d stumble upon a theme that would work. Early on I considered the main theme being one of walking in two worlds, caused by my family’s conversion to Mormonism when I was 11. That may still be the overall theme that generates whatever may be interesting. But also in telling stories verbally I’ve found it not as difficult as I once thought to make the tales fun. I’m still writing the first draft. The next piece of work will be compiling a mountain of stories and weaving a tale that remains engaging throughout. It means I’ll have to throw out a lot of what I’ve written, or save it for some future project.
A few weeks back I came upon the idea of doing some research that can only be done in California, since that is where I grew up. I won’t give too many details, because it is, from what I can tell, still a unique way of weaving the story together. It does involve newspaper archives. So sometime before summer’s out I’ll make a drive down to Southern Cal. I hope to crash on someone’s floor for about a week as I make daily visits to the Los Angeles County Library in West Covina. I had thought about going as early as May, but that doesn’t look like it will work, because that butts up against our wedding anniversary and because the library will be open one fewer day than in a regular week.
I’m going to make several pitches to go get an agent or a publisher, but I’m also open to self-publishing. The process is much less expensive these days. I can find someone to edit for me so that I’m sure it’s a quality project. Designing a cover shouldn’t be difficult, especially for Diana. And I believe I can make the book sell well enough that writing books will be a worthwhile second career until it becomes a first one. After this book I want to do the same for my father, which would mean making another trip to Los Angeles and to Denver. Besides flattering my own ego and that of my father, doing these books will teach me skills in gathering historical evidence. With that experience it could make me even better suited for taking on more expansive projects, the kind of work done in The Devil in the White City, or American Lightning.