Talk about putting your muse on hold. Topper did just that, but wow did he pen a novel once he started down the path. Welcome my guest Topper Jones with tale of idea to book.
When I tell people I’m a novelist, one of the questions I’m often asked is:
“How long did it take you to write your first book? A couple of months? Six maybe?”
“Longer,” I say. And then I tell them All that Glisters was 45 years in the making.
I got the initial idea for ATG in 1977 after reading Robin Cook’s medical thriller Coma. I thought: If a physician can write a bestseller, why can’t a certified public accountant? We were both professionals. All I needed was a preposterous premise.
Rather than have my protagonist discover [Spoiler Alert] human organs being illegally harvested for the black market as in Coma, I decided to have my main characters discover “something” equally chilling regarding the financial markets—a disturbing “something” that would upend everything. Total economic meltdown and the consequences! Banks failing, riots in the streets, and breadlines stretching from coast to coast.
A few years later, while working as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company, I penned the first draft of ATG on my morning commute into downtown Boston. Fortunately, that draft never found a home. The writing was amateurish and unschooled. So, I took classes in creative writing and kept plugging away at craft.
When I retired from my day job some forty years later, I pulled out my abandoned proverbial “novel in the drawer” and with the help of a developmental editor specializing in mysteries, I rewrote the thing from scratch. All except the preposterous premise.
What’s the premise, you say?
You’ll have to read the book to find out. 😉
For another writer’s perspective on what to do with that novel you may have tucked away in a drawer somewhere, see The Novel in the Drawer by Gayle Abrams (Jul 20, 2018). Click the highlighted link or point your browser to:
All That Glisters is an edgy contemporary whodunit involving financial skullduggery, high-level political intrigue, and a behind-the-scenes view of cyber sleuthing. Here’s the pitch:
When the facts don’t add up in his surf buddy’s bizarre death, forensic consultant (and daddy-to-be) Thaddeus Hanlon investigates, volunteering to go undercover to pick up where best friend Rafi Silva left off in a secret probe of the U.S. gold stockpile—every last bullion bar.
Rafi’s spunky fiancée, Bri de la Guerra, has suspicions of her own and soon joins Thad on the hunt for answers. Together, the two amateur sleuths delve deep, stumbling onto a financial a-stock-alypse in the making, triggering a brutal manhunt along the Eastern seaboard meant to silence anyone looking to set the ledger straight.
Rafi, Bri, and I had been good friends throughout college. Marissa entered the picture a few years later but was no less committed to our bond as besties. There was nothing fake about our relationship. It was solid. Genuine.
“Okay, Bri,” I said. “You made your point. You feel Rafi had too much to live for, that suicide is implausible.”
“Impossible. And I can prove it, Thad.” Bri sounded certain like she possessed facts in evidence, that we didn’t have.
Marissa picked up on Bri’s assuredness, following up with questions of her own. “So, Rafi was murdered? You can prove that?”
“Not directly.” Bri leaned forward and got as close as she could to Marissa and me. “What I said was that I can prove Rafi did not kill himself.”
“We’re listening.” Marissa pointed to herself and then at me.
I made the left-hand turn from the Pacific Coast Highway onto the California Incline, a slanted road that connects PCH with Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.
Bri started fidgeting with her engagement ring again. “Remember the Dodge Whitney staffer who conference-called us Thursday night with the news?”
I nodded. Marissa nodded. In my mind, I replayed Jenny Yu’s livestream of the crime scene. Her failed CPR attempt. And then my crazy request for her to rummage through Rafi’s pockets to look for a suicide note or some kind of clue.
“That night Jenny said
something that didn’t quite make sense,” Bri said.
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