I wanted to give you an update of what's going on, and tell you a little
bit about my recent trip to Jesuit High School in New Orleans.
First off, I'm about a hundred and twenty to a hundred and forty pages
away from finishing the new book. Still looking to finish it up in
(late) September, because as I near the end of a project I start writing
faster. I'm doing my ten p.m. to six a.m. schedule right now.
I've gotten a few questions I'd like to answer. One was about why I
don't do a book about The Lady from Boy's Life. I actually did
start on a book about her before I wrote Boy's Life, but for one
reason or another I wasn't satisfied with it. I got about two hundred
pages in. It just wasn't coming to life for me, though, so I put it
aside. It did have some pretty interesting bits: a swamp snake that
travelled with her as her companion and hated all other humans due to
the murders of her "children," a town of half-submerged
antebellum mansions, a shadowy New Orleans maskmaker who created masks
for criminals and murderers that actually became the person's new
face...but I couldn't make it go. I think I was conflicted about
whether to portray "voodoo" as fantasy or reality.
Another question is why I didn't—or wouldn't—do a sequel to
The Wolf's Hour. I actually had planned on doing a sequel, or
more than one sequel, but Irwyn Appelbaum, who was the honcho at Pocket
Books at the time, shot the idea down. I usually don't listen to honchos,
but he said he thought my primary audience was women, and he didn't think
women liked "war books."
Hmmm. I wonder now if he ever read the book?
But anyway, I was off on the next book at the time, so I didn't worry
about it. As for doing a sequel now, it might be interesting, but my
plate is pretty full. If I was to do that, it would be a long way down
the road, and for the present, the Matthew series suits my need to do
Speaking of New Orleans, it was a great trip. I spoke to a gathering of
parents on Monday night, and then on Tuesday spoke to the students in
two sessions. Everybody there was fantastic, I think I was able to
connect with the guys (you can make up your own mind on that if and
when you see the videos) and it was just really fun.
One thing: if you see the video of the first session, you will see
terror leap into my eyes at the beginning of the question-and-answer
session when I realize I can't hear the questions being asked. Yow. So I
was able to take the microphone down to the floor and both hear the
questions and answer them more "face-to-face." You always think what
hideous thing might happen when you're in front of an audience like
that, and 8th to 12th grade young men are a tough audience. I
had the mental image of tumbling down the steps leading from the stage
to the floor, either to land on my face or on my backside, which would've
made a memorable trip and a great YouTube vid.
The gentleman who serves Jesuit High School as the Director of Alumni,
Mat Grau, posed two questions to me a couple of weeks before I left
Birmingham for New Orleans. They were "Who is Cory today?" and
"What is he becoming aware of?"
So, as you'll see and hear in the videos, I wrote Cory a letter and asked
him, and he was kind enough to write me back.
I hope everything's good with you. The family's doing well. My daughter
is really getting up there now. Twenty years old! Can you believe it?
Well, I'm glad you haven't forgotten your old bud. We do go back a ways,
don't we? I haven't been to Zephyr for a long time. The interstate has a
way of speeding you right past the turnoff, but that's okay because I
always know that when I'm ready to go back to Zephyr, Zephyr is always
ready to welcome me.
I've given some thought to the questions you asked.
I am both the same as I was and different too. Aren't we all? It seems
to me that this is part of the challenge of life—to try very hard to
keep some inner part of yourself flowing pure and clear and strong,
while the world throws everything it can at you to muddy your river.
I have to admit—my river has known some turbulence. It has been
tested over rough rocks and daunting falls. It has at some places in its
journey been darkened by silt and sullied by garbage. But I have
tried—and still try—my best to keep it flowing strong toward
the sea of its ultimate destination.
Wherever that may be.
I have a road I walk. I call it "my road." I particularly enjoy it in
late August, in the fading blue light of summer, betwixt and between the
sun and the moon. I think of many things on this road. I remember, I
dream, I imagine. I give thanks for what I have, and what I have to look
Often on this road the cicadas of late summer sing in the trees. I never
fail to hear them say, from either side of that long and twisting
I know where I've been. I don't know exactly where I'm going. But I do
believe that when I get there, it will be a wonderful place.
Thank you for your letter. Take care.
P.S. You'll never believe what I found the other day on eBay. I bought
it. It's not in style anymore, but it sure is a pretty bike.
I wonder if it might be the very same one. And if it would remember me,
and wake up like a lamp turning on in the dark.
Now that would really be magic, wouldn't it?
As always, thank you for your readership, your comments, and your interest in
my work. Like I said, I hope to be finished with the new book soon, and
in this household that will be a very happy day.