FREE FICTION

An excerpt from
THE IRON DEAD


PART ONE

Falling leaves danced in the truck’s headlight glow, and the hitchhiker up ahead wore their shadows like graveyard beetles scuttling over a corpse.

“Wanna pick him up?” Cody asked, his hands tight on the wheel.

“Uh-uh,” Mason said. “That bastard looks poorer than us. Carve the skin off that apple and we wouldn’t get a plug nickel.”

“Then let’s have some fun with him.”

Mason thought: Middle of the night. Middle of nowhere. Stuck in this rig with a white-line maniac jacked up on coffee and cocaine. What could it hurt?

“Gun it, junior,” Mason said. (more)



FREE NONFICTION

THE CARE & FEEDING OF FIRST NOVELS


Making the transition from writing short stories to writing novels was not easy for me.

There, I said it. The words are up there on my computer screen. And now that I’m sitting here staring at them, I realize that they add up to a flat little sliver of understatement that just won’t do.

So let me try again: Writing my first novel was torture. It was a trip to the black hole of Calcutta, an exercise in misery of Poe-esque proportions. And it’s something I’m very glad I’ll never have to do again.

Yeah. That works a little better. And I promise I’m not exaggerating. After my first few attempts in the early nineties, I was nearly convinced that making the run from page one to “The End” of a novel was something I’d never be able to do. I must have started a good half-dozen novels before I ever managed to finish one. Piling up the pages as I worked on each of those books was like running a gauntlet—the more pages in my pile, the more beat-up I’d feel. My plot would become a tiger I couldn’t hold by the tail; my characters wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do; my confidence would wane. I’d read through my manuscript time and time again, looking for a way to fix the problems I saw there, and those pages would keep clubbing at me.(more)

 

Copyright © 2007 Norman Partridge