the anthony dobranski blog

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

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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?

This was my thinking:

  • No one else is asking me to write a novel, much less to publish it.
  • The novel is mine. Though I’m not being paid, I know it will be published, which can only be bad for me if the work is bad. If it gets hits, that will look good for me and for the book’s future prospects.
  • I have a couple of ideas but I don’t have another novel to write just yet.
  • I actually have help, from local historians and agency librarians!
  • I am artistically interested in the story I am outlining.
  • I am artistically curious how the style I developed at great effort for the last novel will adapt to a new genre and setting.
  • I like the idea of learning to do a serial. Recently Jeffrey Deaver wrote a script novel – something directly meant to go to audiobook. Who knows where the market might go?
  • I just spent a lot of time developing skills in novel-writing that are unusual and good. Best not to let them go idle.

That last one may be the best reason. Everything else is fancy, hope or doubt, but I need the work, for my own development as a writer. If there were a better commercial shot, I might take it. But there isn’t — maybe the effort of this work will help shake a future story loose.

So. I’m writing a mystery!

Author: Anthony Dobranski

I'm a fiction writer, mostly.

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