I’ve written about new directions that might or might not have been coming down the pike in recent posts, and now it’s time to be a little more transparent about what those changes/new projects might be.
For some time now I’ve been feeling the tug to try my hand in a different genre, namely the crime thriller/espionage/suspense sort of tale. I’ve even been kicking around an idea for a story that I thought might be fun. I’ve shared a little bit about it with some writer friends and got some very positive feedback. Basically, the only thing holding me back from moving forward was that I was nervous to try something so far removed from anything I’ve done before.
Then I got a message from this guy. That’s right, it’s award-winning author, father of two, husband of one, and all around likable bloke, Craig A. Hart. Readers of this blog may recall that I was privileged to interview Craig a while back, (see the post from 3 May 2017, entitled “The Interview That Will Change Direction in Which the Earth Spins.”). He’s the author of the Shelby Alexander Thriller series, which currently includes the books Serenity, Serenity Stalked, Serenity Avenged, and the newest, Serenity Submerged. He is presently working on the fifth installment and hopes to release it before the end of the year.
Anyway, yeah, he messaged me and asked if what I thought about ghostwriting. I assumed someone had offered him a gig doing so. I asked him if that were the case, and wondered how the heck he’d fit that into his schedule, (he had twin toddler sons, remember, in addition to writing like a fiend). Of course, we were talking electronically, so I couldn’t actually hear him laugh, but I’m pretty sure he did when he answered my question by saying, “No, I was thinking of offering you one.”
Please believe me when I tell you that was the last thing I expected to hear. We talked back and forth for a while longer as he told me what he was looking for and the time-frame in which he was hoping to have it done, then he said, “If you want, sleep on it and see what you think in the morning.”
Sleep on it. Like I was going to sleep after getting an offer like that! I actually did sleep for an entire hour or so. When I got up in the morning I sent the following message:
“After a long period of intense soul-searching (= six minutes of childlike giggling)… I have decided to accept your offer unless you have come to your senses and have withdrawn it.”
I’m happy to say he did not come to his senses.
The project in question was to write the second installment in his novella series, chronicling the case files of an international covert espionage organization known as SpyCo. The first book, entitled Assignment: Athens had been so much fun to read that I had to pinch myself at the thought of being able to actually write one.
Craig gave me a lot of autonomy. I could create my own characters, as well as use the ones he’d introduced in the first book, pick my own setting, and pretty much go to town.
I secretly started writing a couple of weeks prior to the start date he and I had talked about, partly because the book I was working on, (the third installment of my series, Cerah of Quadar,) had hit a wall that I was having tons of trouble climbing over, but mostly because I couldn’t wait any longer to get working on it.
The arrangement, as we originally made it, was a straightforward ghostwriting deal. I’d write the book, Craig would receive my work, make changes, and publish it under his name as part of the SpyCo series. I was perfectly happy with this because it meant that something I wrote was going to be made available to Craig’s readership, which is a whole lot bigger than my own, and that I would know I’d done the work if people liked it. (Conversely, I would also know I’d done the work if they hated it, but I was hoping more would like than hate!)
I must admit that as the story began to take shape I sometimes caught myself being a little melancholy over the fact that no one would know I had anything to do with it. I felt like it was a fairly decent story with some interesting characters, and I was becoming proud of it. But I was also still very content to honor my commitment.
Then Mr. Hart blew me away a second time. But before I tell that story I have to tell this one:
On the day I was officially slated to start working on the project, 1 October, I was watching the CBS Sunday Morning show. They did a segment about a recently found Mark Twain sketch of an idea for a book that he’d never written. The segment was called “Mark Twain, Ghostwriter.” I considered this portentous for two reasons: first the obvious, the appearance of the word Ghostwriter, and second, there is a little-known fact that I’ve always clung to. Mark Twain died on 21 April 1910. That happens to be fifty years to the day before I was born. I once joked that I was his very tardy reincarnation. It took fifty years for his spirit to find a worthy vessel.
So I dashed off a message to Craig telling him the story and we shared a laugh about it. Then he said: “Also, how would you feel about having your name on the cover, something like Craig A. Hart with S.J. Varengo?”
As always, my reply was very calm and collected. “I would not object to being mentioned alongside the great Craig Hart,” to which I promptly added, “Hopefully when you read it you won’t have any either.”
My reply may have been cool, but I was geeking out. I’m very glad that there are approximately 888 miles between his home and mine because that is just about how far away one would have had to have been to not hear my cheers.
The reason I’m taking 8 million words to tell this story is that Craig announced the release date of the book that was the result of his offer, Assignment: Paris. It’s slated for an October 24 release and is currently in the process of the final edit.
If you are a Craig Hart fan, fear not. He took what I wrote and made some awesome improvements, to give it the sound and feel of another Craig A. Hart winner.
And if you’re an S.J. Varengo fan… haha! I couldn’t finish the sentence! I know there’s no such thing… yet! But perhaps after a few readers get a chance to read A:P, as I call it when I’m being lazy (most of the time), I may see a few fans crawl out of the woodwork. I am completely serious when I say I’m honored to be associated with Craig professional now, as I have been to be associated with him personally for the past six years. We’ve shared a lot of lawls, as we like to say, and I’m predicting many more in the future.
So here’s to us!
ve it feel and sound like another Craig A. Hart winner. If you are an S.J. Varengo fan…
Sorry, couldn’t finish that sentence. I know there’s no such thing… yet.
I’m hoping that a few S.J. Varengo fans might crawl out of the woodwork as a result of Assignment: Paris. It was a blast to work on, and I am being completely serious when I say that it is truly an honor to be associated professionally with Craig, as it has been to be his friend for the past six years. It’s a fun story, and I’m guessing readers will get a kick out of it.