Blue Fire, Part 5: 10 Gracie Square

(Another in a series of posts about the inspiration and the history behind BLUE FIRE, my new mystery novel, which is NOW available on Amazon at a special New Release Price – 99 cents through April 15th)

 

And now, for my final post about my new book, I’d like to reveal the real inspiration for it – a building.

As I was finishing Dark Sky, the first book in my Max Bowman series, I became obsessed with a structure I would see across the East River from Roosevelt Island, where I live. It’s an old apartment building, fifteen stories tall, and built in the late 1920’s, right as the epic Wall Street crash that triggered the Great Depression was happening.

10 Gracie square

What I was most fascinated by was the rooftop, which had a series of posts and pillars that resembled some sort of ancient temple structure. Okay, what it really looked like was the rooftop from the climax of the original Ghostbusters. Which made sense, since that building, located at 55 Central Park West, was built the same year and with the same Art Deco sensibility.

rooftop

Anyway, when I did more research on the building, I found out I wasn’t the only one who admired it. Tom Wolfe, famed white-suited New Yorker and author of Bonfire of the Vanities, named it one of only 42 “good buildings” in the Manhattan area. Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, former First Lady of China, lived there until her death in 2003 at the age of 105. Gloria Vanderbilt also lived there with her son Anderson Cooper – and, sadly, in 1988, her other son, Carter Cooper, committed suicide by falling to his death from the terrace of her apartment (which they movingly discuss in their new book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes).

Another fun fact about the place? It was originally built right on the waterfront, where there was a private club of sorts at the foot of the building. Unfortunately, a few years later, the FDR expressway was constructed right outside its front door – so the club was demolished and waterfront access blocked off; the bottom two floors ended up being walled off from the highway (and the East River) and are now only accessible from the sidewalk by two flights of stairs leading down to the first floor, where the windows have bars on them and the only things on the narrow walkway in front of them are trash cans. Those creepy below-street-level floors inspired even more creepiness in my novel.

A lot of bad things happen in this building in my book – both at the top and the bottom of it. Actually, some weird stuff happens in the middle floors as well. All in all, in Blue Fire…you want to avoid the place at all costs.

Oh, and stay out of the park across the street from it at 3 a.m. as well…

Oh yeah, the book…as it says on the top of this post, the “official” release starts today, Friday, April 8th – and the eBook will be on sale for $.99 for the next week.  I hope you’ll check it out.

 

The Secret History of Blue Fire, Part 1

(The first in a series of posts about the inspiration and the history behind BLUE FIRE, my new mystery novel, which will be available on Amazon at a special New Release Price – 99 cents – from April 8th through April 15th)

As I write these words, it hasn’t even been a year since I decided to write my first novel. That happened on Memorial Day weekend, 2015 (for more details on that epiphany, read this post from last year).

Now, I’m releasing my second one. I hadn’t anticipated completing another one so soon – especially one that’s about a hundred pages longer than the first. But when you’re inspired…

And boy, was I inspired.

In the next few days, I’m going to be writing more about that inspiration. About the ideas and the history that made me have to write this damn book…in spite of my regular ghostwriting work and my lovely wife telling me I was crazy to try and do a second novel so soon after the first one. The problem was, as with the first book, Dark Sky, I couldn’t help it. I was flooded with characters, plot complications and the overwhelming desire to do a bigger, deeper and richer book than the first – and I had to get it all out on paper. Well, on the computer anyway.

This isn’t to say that I was unhappy with Dark Sky.  Far from it. The feedback from friends and family was fantastic and so were most of the reviews posted on Amazon. But still, it was the first novel I had attempted in thirty years or so and the first time I had really attempted the mystery-thriller genre. I knew I could do even better with the second one.

Of course, whether I did or not is up to the ultimate judgment of readers. And there’s some controversial stuff in this one. And there’s a different tone, particularly in the closing chapters. This time around, I took more chances – and I hope they paid off.

In any event, I hope you’ll come back to this here blog space over the next four days to find out just what went into Blue Fire – and why I’m a little bit nervous about how people will react to it.

 

 

 

How I Accidentally Wrote a Novel

DARK SKY 1 (1)

Joel Canfield here.

So, it was a sunny Sunday, May 24th of this year, and my lovely wife Lisa and I were having lunch here on Roosevelt Island with a couple of writer pals, David Muhlfelder and Robert Thielke.  All four of us had ordered burgers and, as we wolfed them down, some other guy showed up at out table, a guy I didn’t know, and he immediately lambasted our diets. Which was fair.

Anyway, I found out his name was Joshua James and he lived over the river from us in Queens – Robert had invited him over to meet up with us. I also found out that Josh was a talented playwright, screenwriter – and, as it happens, novelist (he writes thrillers under a pseudonym, but check out his published plays by clicking here).  Even though a film of one of his scripts had just been released, he was the most excited about self-publishing his books. He told us excitedly that was where the future was at – and how he was racking up some great sales, as well as getting hundreds of amazing reviews. And if you guessed that his spiel set me on fire…

…well, you’d be wrong.

Lisa was the one hanging on his every word who suddenly wanted to get into the self-publishing game – I was the one in the corner rolling my eyes. I had no intention of writing a novel. A novel takes a lot of time and a lot of energy, and at this point in my life, I don’t have a lot of either to spare. Not only that, but I never got anywhere with the ones I did finish, back when I was in my twenties and thirties. The closest I got to getting published was to finally have a book agent read my stuff, love it and promise to get it in print. He died of a heart attack on a tennis court a couple of weeks later. Okay, it was a bigger tragedy for him than me, but still…

But then I fell asleep and everything changed.

Not during the lunch – that would have been rude. But after Lisa and I got home, I took a quick nap (our dog gets us up way too early) and suddenly the whole first chapter of a new book came to me while I slept, as well as the main character and the basic plot. I woke up on fire – and Lisa was looking at me as though I was nuts, which isn’t that unusual, I’ll grant you.

That week, I started writing DARK SKY and, two and a half months later, it was done. And sleep continued to be my biggest writing helper. I kept waking up in the middle of the night with the idea for the next chapter and then lay there in bed for a couple of hours working out the mechanics. But it was worth the ongoing exhaustion.

When I was done, Lisa went through the manuscript and helped me make some significant improvements, and then my talented son A.J. did the book cover design. In this house, everything’s a family affair.

The result was DARK SKY.  I’m excited about this book and I hope everyone reading this will give it a read. I’d love to write a whole series of these books with the same main character and I already have a plot for the next one. But people have to like this one first before I get crazy involved with another one.

That’s why, for now, I’m sleeping on it.

Anyway, DARK SKY is NOW on sale on Amazon in paperback and Kindle ebook editions…check it out here if you want.