It’s been incredibly difficult for me to focus on writing, of late. While other writers have thrived in these conditions facilitated by the lovely Covid19 realities, I’ve felt less then stalwart concerning my work. Caught up in the fear and paranoia, wondering if I’ll catch the virus and die some miserable death drowning in my own phlegm, I’ve been loath to even look at my WIP. But, today is Palm Sunday, I feel good–I’m not dying, anyway–and it’s quiet, making for an ideal time to write.
I’d like to think there are fans waiting for me to get this novel done. I’d like to think that somebody out there is sitting on pins and needles, waiting for me to finish Nine Mile Road in the same way I am waiting for James Watts to finish Beast of Sorrows. Have you read James Watts? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. It’s like, “Come on James. Hurry the fuck up! I can’t wait anymore!” Regardless, the best way to get that kind of fanfare is to get the good stuff out there. I’m trying!
Nine Mile Road centers around a car, of course. It’s a 1965 Chevy Impala SS. Originally, the first chapter involved a scene wherein the supernaturally (for lack of a more accurate description) resurrected car claims its first victims. A scene so powerful and frightening, even James said he would buy the book after reading a rough draft I shared with him. But, because the story involves weaving in backstory, a writer’s dreaded curse, I opted to move the chapter further in. I needed to present elements in a more chronological order. Which brings me back to the difficulty and tediousness of Chapter One. The question is, how do I relate boring, but important details and still hook the reader? The first chapter starts the story with my main protagonist, (reverently named James, by the way), riding a Greyhound as a young man on his way to Cape May in New Jersey, a long ways away from the drama unfolding back home. As a young man in 1986, he has no clue concerning the horror that has befallen his friends, and will never know the truth until some thirty years later. Somehow I have to take a relatively static chapter and make it exciting. While I’m not counting on details concerning the car (which, in this story, begins life as a friend’s hot rod project) for hooking the average reader, I’m hoping to keep demonic car enthusiasts–maybe–entertained while I get to that part.
The backstory revealed in Chapter One relates how the protagonist, James Kowolski and his best friend, George Garcia, had spent the summer working on George’s Super Sport Impala. George knows what he’s got. At least, he thinks he does. He’s saved up his money to have the 396 big block block bored and stroked in a professional machine shop, pushing the piston displacement to it’s maximum capacity. In other words, he’s creating a beastly, tire-burning motor. So, that’s nice. A kid’s building a hot rod. He’s got a big block motor. Who cares? Imagine his surprise when he finds out he just modified one of General Motors legendary L78’s?
In 1965, if you had a few extra bucks, and the car dealer knew the codes, you could order an Impala SS with the (now) ultra-rare L78 396 big block. The L78 came factory-fresh with an 11:1 displacement. This kind of torque and horsepower will lift the front end of the car, throw you against the back of the seat, and burn the rubber right off the rims! That same Impala came with a “rock-crusher” 4-speed manual transmission and 4:11 gears in the Positraction rear end. Just imagine punching those crucially thin cylinder walls out a little bit more to create a monster displacement of 13 1/2: 1. Scary! Have fun keeping that thing on the road, kid!
Anyway, I’m babbling, and I’m not working. The normal, noisy disturbances of the day have begun–the neighborhood is waking up, and quiet time is over. I’m going to wrap this blog up, and get on with the day. Eventually, I may write more, hoping to entice your attention with even more provocative details concerning Nine Mile Road. Until then, keep your eyes and ears peeled. If you’re ever out at night, walking the dark, spooky road alone, and you hear a god-awful roar, and see bright lights approaching, get the hell away and hide while you can!