the anthony dobranski blog


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My new novel – published as a serial – and, why do it?

I’m so sorry! I have never shared my new novel with my blog. I think in part it’s because I view this as a less promotional space than a reflective one. I’ve posted about it in its future home, however, so I should talk about it here too. Perhaps more reflectively.

Starting in the first quarter of 2015 I will be publishing a serial historical mystery online at the Forest Hills Connection. It’s set in Washington DC in 1942, inspired by the wartime work of the National Bureau of Standards, which included proximity fuses for bombs and early uranium enrichment, along with many other unglamorous but vital duties such as alloys, radio crystals and weaponry sights. It’s also inspired by the strange life of Washington’s home front, a sleepy city become a world power and flooded with the nation’s first cadre of single women office workers. Here’s a promotional article with photos from the era.

The book came accidentally, an idea from the editor of our local neighborhood website to develop a serial novel about the neighborhood’s history, informed by the popularity of the historical articles the site publishes. Most neighborhoods at best have only a couple of novelists so my name came up quickly. I researched and I found myself interested.

But lots of things interest me. Novels are work and serials unfamiliar ground. I haven’t wanted to do anything but fantasy and sci-fi in decades. As a career move, another fantasy would be more in order, or a continued focus on short stories (but more about that in the next post). And it’s not as if I’m being paid.

So in the spirit of professionalism, in wanting my fiction to be more than a hobby — is this good business or bad?

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Jerk with binoculars finds wonder

There’s a house on my block that’s being rebuilt, a new plywood and lumber skeleton on the same foundation.

I walked the dogs at midnight, just down the block and back. From across the street they barked at the dark construction site. On the old front stoop I saw a slow cigarette smoked by a man in shadows.

This is not a street of trespassing midnight smokers. One theft down the block last month. At home, I called the cops.

They came in minutes. From my rear terrace, hiding in darkness, I saw three police talking to one guy. I went to my house and got binoculars. 8×42, a good pair. Yes I am now a creepy neighbor, but at least I was dressed. A man in a clean white polo shirt talked gamely to three police. Probably working in the basement. I felt a little bad. The police stayed a while, ten minutes and more, the man talking and talking to them. The longer the police stayed, the more illicit it all felt. I stopped watching.

In my stealthy dark, Orion hung in bright points on our city’s indigo skies. I looked through my binoculars and saw wonders. Continue reading