Required Reading (Unfortunately)

I wrote here about how much I dislike doing research for my books.  It’s still true, but I have had to knuckle down and change my ways.  Here’s a list of books I’ve read recently, all in the name of research for my next novel:

  • Birdmen, Batmen, and Skyflyers
  • Please Kill Me – the Uncensored Oral History of Punk
  • Amusement Parks of New York
  • The Importance of Music to Girls
  • Maine 101
  • As They See ‘Em – a Fan’s Travels in the Land of Umpires
  • The American Amusement Park
  • Muscular Dystrophy – the Facts
  • To Reach the Clouds
  • It Must be Beautiful – Great Equations of Modern Science
  • The Maine Reader
  • The Lighthouse Handbook: New England

This is what I get for deciding to write a story featuring a lot of stuff I know very little about.

Looking at this list, I can see the emergence of a few mini-themes, but nevertheless the overall impression, even to me, is one of capricious chaos.  Which is about right.  At least the tedium of all this reading (all those novels I’m missing!) is tempered by my self-righteous martyrdom as I amass a lot of (probably completely useless) information.  Characters and plot-lines are slowly emerging.  My study is being overrun with hastily scrawled notes.

Some day soon I’ll get around to starting the thing.  If anyone wants to hazard a guess at the plot on the basis of the above reading material, I’m all ears.

Comments 4

  1. Hey Alex,

    These are all books that I would read! Maybe I should get them and do a sum up for you.

    Seriously, it looks like you are doing something with an amusment park. I am an amusement park junky. I have been to many, and I spent my entire high school summers working at Six Flags in St. Louis (still one of the best jobs I ever had (I just saw my paycheck stubs from then, I made $3.35 per hour starting, ended making $5.75)). I also had the coveted job in “Operations”, more specifically Rides! And I have some great stories. So if you get tired of reading, I can let you in on some stories. I am talking exploding rides, deadly giant stuffed animals, “the fat lady fling”, tales of second rate celebrities, working in serious heat, defication, and the loss of virginity. Of course, if that is not the case that you are doing a book with amument parks, I still have great stories. This looks like a good one.

    BTW, what happened to your last book? Is is out in the wild? Can I get an autographed copy? Good luck and I hope this you have fun writing.

    Chris Allen

  2. Post

    Here’s what my good friend (and fellow author) Richard Lewis suggested as a possible plot on Facebook:

    “A former rock musician, having failed to win the heart of his sweetheart, and humiliated by his hand-to-mouth existence hacking out honkytonk woman at a tired provincial water park, retires on the dregs of his royalties to an abandoned lighthouse in Maine, where he is content to live out the late summer and autumn of his years in solitude. Until his aging, estranged father arrives. A former professional baseball player and umpire, the old widower has been stricken with a debilitating disease and is forced to reconcile with the son he disowned. At first combattive and tense, their relationship warms as the father’s illness progresses and he becomes obsessed with achieving his one unfulfilled ambition: man-flight.”


  3. Post

    Chris: we will have to talk. Yes, the novel is set in an amusement park. I would dearly love to hear any stories you can share. Was the “fat lady fling” a ride in the park or a tale of sexual misadventure? Obviously it’s fun to make stuff up, but there’s rarely anything better than the truth. You know what they say about being stranger than fiction…

    As for the last book – no, it’s not out yet. Believe me, you would have read about it here! There may however be some news on that front next week. (Maybe.) Watch this space.

  4. First off, I would read the book Richard Lewis proposes. Actually, Lewis should pitch that to Judd Apatow and make a movie.

    Let me know when you want to have a fun coversation on the phone. I have some pretty good ones. The ‘fat lady fling’ was a ride called the Rale Blazer ( It was one of the first stand up roller coasters in the world. An overweight lady was on the ride and lost her footing and was flung from ride falling to her death. Lots of ghost stories grew from that one. Especially since you had to look at the car she was in everyday in the bone yard in the back lot. The sexual misadventures are a whole other story.

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