“Beneath a Buried House”, the second book in the Detective Elliot series, came to life in a frenzied atmosphere of deadlines and writers block. After suffering a year of block and self-pity, I turned in desperation to an older story that I’d previously shelved, a character study, which I adapted into an Elliot novel.
I needed a second book, a follow up to “Twisted Perception”, which was the first book in the Detective Elliot series. If I was going to be a mystery writer, I needed to act like one. It seems odd when I think about it. I started out writing short stories best described as being in the Twilight Zone genre. My favorite authors were and are writers like Dean Koontz, Stephen King and John Saul. So, how did I end up writing mystery? It’s a long story, but I’ll dip into it briefly. I’ve been writing most of my life, but it wasn’t until my late thirties during a rather interesting and creative midlife crises that I began to take it seriously. In light of this, I began searching for a writers group in which to join. Having recently moved back to the Tulsa area, I contacted the library for help and they put me in touch with the Tulsa NightWriters, a group that I still belong to. As an offshoot to the club, several of the members had begun meeting one night a week to critique each other’s work and I soon joined this subgroup as well. To sum it up, the members of this offshoot were a rather conservative bunch, not much caring for either the genre or the form I’d chosen. They suggested that I abandon short stories and begin a novel and indicated, perhaps a bit more subtly that I also choose a more serious subject. I followed their advice and wrote “Twisted Perception”, the first Detective Elliot novel. Having had some success with it, I decided to do a follow up book, which was “Beneath a Buried House”.
Having made the decision to write a second Elliot book, I should have dove right in after finishing the first one. But it didn’t work out that way. I became aware of an author’s need to promote their work, and as I began to research this area I became a little too caught up in it, putting off the writing of the second book until I had the first one well on its way to success. That’s what I told myself. However, after a few months of enthusiastic promotion, when I realized I needed to get started writing I couldn’t do it. Writers block had set in. I continued to procrastinate for a few more months, writing a scene here and there only to stick it in a file and forget about it when an opportunity presented itself. I’d picked up some literature promoting a writers’ conference that offered an interesting contest. Attendants of the conference could send in a synopsis and the first three chapters of their current novel for a New York agent to review. The winner of the contest was guaranteed to have their manuscript read by the agency. I entered the contest and won. The only problem was I didn’t have the manuscript completed and the agency wanted to see it right away. So I drove straight home after the conference, found an older story I’d worked up and, in a heated mix and match of stories produced the first draft of “Beneath a Buried House”.
One of the reasons people read is to gain a better understanding of human interaction and the emotional joys and conflicts associated with relationships. However, the flip side of the coin, the writing of story, the laying down of words on paper offers its share of self- discovery as well. In light of this, it could be said that while the need for a second book got “Beneath a Buried House” kicked off, a personal need for an in depth exploration of character propelled the book to its finish. The story I’d put aside only to resurrect as an Elliot novel was nothing more than an elaborate role-playing exercise in which I immersed myself in an effort to better understand the world around me.
On further reflection, the impetus behind a large portion of my writing is a deep-down desire to understand myself, and the people around me. However, I hope that putting myself behind the eight ball in order to get it done is not a precedent that I will continue to follow.
“Beneath a Buried House” is available at:
Bob Avey is the author of the mystery novel, BENEATH A BURIED HOUSE. You can visit his website at www.bobavey.com for more information about the author and his book.