Part Travelogue, Part Social Commentary, Part Fiction
As an aspiring fiction author, it is perhaps impolitic to admit that I don’t read a whole lot of fiction anymore. As a child, it was all I read when I wasn’t doing research for a school project. Hundreds and hundreds of novels, particularly during the long, hot Phoenix summers. Somewhere along the way, though, my taste morphed toward nonfiction. Memoir, spirituality, marketing, personal development, politics – I’m one of those people who finds almost everything interesting. That is, perhaps, why I majored in nonfiction writing. I took fiction and poetry classes because you had to – nonfiction is a Creative Writing degree – but I was terrible at them. Long, plodding sentences. Boring descriptions. Clunky poems with little grace or style or lyricism. I listened with admiration and envy to my peers who could craft gorgeous stories out of the same 26 characters I had to work with.
I kept writing, though, and my writing improved. I’d never call it outstanding, but it’s strong. And the more you do of anything, the better it gets, so I keep on writing. Over the years, I began to notice and watch people. And to listen to them. How they form sentences. The way they interrupt and talk over each other. The natural flow of dialogue is halting; The Bard may have preferred soliloquies, but people do not naturally employ them in their day-to-day speech. I watched movies with equal attention, always preferring well-developed characters to an exceptional plot – not that one is more important than the other. Both are essential for a good story, whether it be in film or print version.
So my writing continued to improve. Enough, I thought, that I could actually try my hand at a novel. Still trying, as it turns out, 12+ years later. That’s OK. It will be finished soon.
When it comes to considering how best to describe my book – to give people a sense of what it’s like – I’m at a bit of a loss because I’m not really a fiction reader. I’ve had nearly a dozen people read early versions, though, and no one has said, “Stan is like a cross between X and Y.” So maybe it is unique, in that there aren’t really things out there to compare it to.
During the last Author Blog Challenge, I also described the process of writing Stan and how I hoped to market it. Those posts are archived on my marketing blog, Marcie Brock Book Marketing Maven. One really helpful a-ha that emerged from that Challenge was the understanding of how to best tell people what the book is about: it’s part travelogue, part social commentary, and part fiction. You’ll remember I’m trained as a nonfiction writer, so I worked very hard to get the real-life details right. Having been to only a handful of the places Stan visits, I did scrupulous research because I don’t want anyone to read it and say, “Ah, she’s obviously never been there.”
The social commentary comes as Stan is exposed to many new ideas, philosophies, and experiences. He is a tightly wound, security-conscious guy – and world travel requires him to stretch and grow in unexpected ways. As I made discoveries in my research, I wove them into the story so that Stan could also discover them along his sometimes bumpy journey.
Ultimately, though, it’s a book about a guy who takes his dog with him as he travels around the world. How much disbelief must you suspend from Page 1 to allow for that to happen? And while a handful of characters are based on people I have known, the vast majority of the individuals who populate this novel are pure fabrications, straight out of my imagination.
Likewise with the incidents. Yep – I had a Jack Russell terrier who was the best traveling companion you could imagine. I lived in Jersey City and worked on Wall Street. And I had a conversation with a friend a lot like the one between Paula and Stan that gives rise to Stan’s journey in the first place. But neither of us stormed out, neither of us set off afterward on a trek around the world, and the vast majority of the things that happen in the story are 100 percent made up.
Part travelogue, part social commentary, part fiction. If that intrigues you, keep reading this blog – and look for Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World in early Spring 2017!
Read the FIRST 5 Chapters of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.
LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to change the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.