It's always amazing to me that folks like you who have so much going for them in terms of being attractive to readers as characters, seek other characters to engage characters' interests. That's the heart of suggesting that you are a good character. It's a complement. I've spoken at conferences with Al Zuckerman, who insists that blockbusters always deal with inaccessibly important or powerful people, when in fact his own client, Ken Follett's first, break-out novel, The Eye of the Needle, dealt with ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The trick seems not to take readers to positions they'll never be with people they don't know, but to show how people more like them -- whose names are, as with my friend actor Robert Prosky -- still 'in the book.' The real problem with writing novels about ourselves is that one may end up writing, as Ian Flemming did, about himself as a superspy. The trick is to find someone unlike yourself who is interesting. I could write interesting stuff about you, but would not want any part in the story. It's not that I wouldn't like meeting you in fact or fiction, simply that the rule 'keep yourself out of the story' is one I observe fairly rigidly. In the same way, Vonnegut waited seventeen years for emotional distance from the firebombing at Dresden to write Slaughterhouse Five. Originally he wanted a roman a clef but on reflection he turned it over to Billy Pilgrim, because the 'children's campaign' had to make sense in terms of innocence, right and wrong, etc on a scale grander than simply the personal. Anyway, bodies and preserving. Try Doug Ubelacker (sp?) at the Smithsonian. He works forensics cases, old ones and has written a book. I've talked with the guy (we share an opthamologist, Doug Greer, Robin Cook's med school pal) and he is very open to chat. In a way, he better be, since you are paying his salary. More to your exact point. If you look at Otzi, the ice man, recovered after thousands of years from a subliming glacier (sublimation takes water directly from solid ice to vapor without passing through liquid water) you find a dry mumified corpse that was well enough preserved to tell that he had been killed by an arrow to his back, and also to do DNA. Freeze drying is probably the best way to preserve as much of a body as possible. Refrigeration is less effective because slow decomposition goes on, even at tempertures just above freezing. Embalming is good, but generally involves evsicerating the body and removing the brain. Even the ancient Egyptians did this. There is also this German who works in Kazakstan and faithfully preserves 'real bodies' in the sense that all the interconnections of the original structures and tissues are replaced by a nondecomposing counterpart, but this product is to a real body as a fossil is to real bone. In fossilization the shape is exactly preserved but the calcium phosphate of bone becomes calcium silicate as the silicate replaces the phosphate in what chemists call isomorphous substitution. If you can't find Doug U's address or phone or email, let me know. He'll be speaking on an upcoming forensics seminar at the Smithsonian. I can get you times and dates if you like.
I did, and I will confess in front of the world of crime that I still don't understand, but ambiguity is the spice of life. I'm in the middle of novels, just finished one and working on plot for next, and can't seem to concentrate on much other than figuring out how to preserve a body found ten years after the murder. What is the ideal environment required to keep a body from deteriorating? Any thoughts, reference texts, etc. would be gratefully accepted. I read your bio on your website and thought you might have some ideas. I like the title "Little Gods" and from the prep school boys I've known and definitely not loved, it seems very appropriate. I hope to read it very soon. Thanks.
A novelist is typically drawn to write a story based partly on the dramatic premise and additionally on the nature of the characters. Both aspect matter profoundly as to how the story ultimately plays. Spike Lee once said that if you take the same story premise and change the characters playing each role, you have an entirely different story. And he's right. Different characters bring to the story different value systems, different aversions, different preceptions about what life owes them and how easy, or difficult, it is to get it. All of that often depends upon how the characters have chosen to define their lives up to that point, which is to say how they have actually demonstrated through actions that they are in fact the characters they othewise would only imagine themselves to be. And so you (I) look for those realities which say to me, hey, that's a neat starting point because the character has, through decisions they have made, brough themselves to a stage of defintion that already engages the reader by itself alone, which then provides a kind of booster to thrust their interest into the story premise itself. Okay?
I'll have to check out your book. I have to admit that I haven't read much YA fiction as I tend to read adult mysteries in my spare time. I've lately been wondering how far to push the envelope with writing for adolescents - what will publishers accept or not? I think it depends on the publisher and the author and what they are comfortable with. What do you think?
I admire you. I'm knew to this, to actually sending my stuff out. How do you get through it? In truth, I did send out one manuscript, and it was rejected--but for some reason I had written a romance, and I never read them! They said it had promise, but it was bit sugary. I had to agree. I read something funny about a writer saying that only his life depended on him getting published. YOu have to be a writer, I guess, to understand that. I understand it and I know you do. I hope you have diversions though. I'm sure you must.
You do sound busy! I, too, write. Am working on a novel in a series as well as short stories. I tend to work until I can't see straight, eight hours at a time and then back to it. All the best of luck to you, though and I mean it!