When I began working in 2016 on the novel adaptation of my feature screenplay about the Eager Beavers, I knew it was going to involve a considerable amount of work, but reasoned that the bulk of the research, and obviously the substance of the story, had already been done and worked out for the screenplay. I figured the main work of the novel would be fleshing out the scenes in the script.
How young I was then.
Turns out I really . . . really . . . underestimated how bony the script was compared to a novel. There are just so many more words. The succinctness in description and dialogue necessary for a script was not my friend here. There were no pictures worth a thousand words to make up for what isn’t on the page. Let’s see: if one picture equals a thousand words, times twenty-four pictures per second, that’s 24,000 words per second of film—yep, that feels about right.
It also didn’t help that in starting the story earlier than in the script, I was adding quite a lot more new, original research to my task than I realized. The Internet is a true blessing to a writer in this regard, since if you know how to use it, you can find almost anything out that you need to know. The Internet is also a curse to a writer, since if you know how to use it, you can find almost anything out that you need to know. They say the first step to solving a problem is recognizing you have one, right?
So there was just the nature of the work itself that added far more time to the job at hand than I had predicted.
And then there was, well, my hand. I broke a bone in my right hand in spring 2017 during a move, and then re-broke it later that year because apparently once you’ve broken a bone in your hand, it’s just a door jam away from breaking again.
So that, and our cat breeding business (yeah, we breed hypoallergenic cats as well) (no, that was not in my life plan), and the homeschooling, and the teenagers doing teenager-y stuff . . . you’ve seen the old movies with the calendar pages whipping off to show the passage of time, right?
Finally, though, with some things getting more settled, and a change to my schedule, I finally resolved last fall to get the book done by the end of this year, and while it’s still going to be a taller mountain to climb than hoped, I still feel hopeful. There is a path to it. I have to say, too, that while the research is enormous and at times may strain—break, even—the bounds of what’s necessary, there is an intense satisfaction in distilling it all down into a natural narrative, and I think it will pay off in the authenticity.
That’s my hope, but just how much it does is of course up to the reader to determine, and that’s where this comes in. Due to continuing inquiries, I thought it might be good and fun not just to reassure that work is in fact getting done, that Remington Steele is real, but show some of it. (If you don’t get the reference, hie thee to Netflix.)
These are two excerpts from Above and Beyond, one focusing on Jay Zeamer, the other on Joe Sarnoski prior to their joining forces. Click on each link below to open the PDF; it should open in a new window in your browser. Please ignore any weird formatting; Scrivener is a bit wonky that way, but once I lay it out in InDesign, all those sorts of things will go away. My goal here was to merely get them into a reasonably nice format for reading online. If you do notice any typos, by all means, please let me know. I edit as I go, but—and please keep this in mind—this is still my first draft, so there likely are a few.
I hope you enjoy them, and that they make everyone look forward to more.