Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The best laid plans

We had a plan for Dancing Priest. We expected the ebook versions to begin going live on Thursday. Instead, Amazon processed everything quickly and the Kindle version went live on Monday.

I had a plan, it had just been bypassed, and I didn’t care. It was an exciting thing to see.

I had planned several posts about creating the book, but the Kindle appearance superseded that idea. But part of the plan was to recognize four people who were intimately involved and helped make the book happen, and I still want to do that.

One was Adam Blumer. To say that Adam edited and proofread the manuscript is accurate, but it understates his contribution. I selected Adam because (a) he was a published writer, (b) he also works as a professional editor and has tackled numerous manuscripts, (c) he is extremely familiar with both the publishing industry and the specific audience I am writing for, and (d) he would give me a critical review, and I mean “critical” in the good sense. You live with a story for as long as I have lived with this one and you come to realize that you’re too close to it to know how it might be received.

Here’s what Adam said: Dancing Priest is “an unusual story, but I mean that in a good sense.” He liked the writing; he stayed engaged with the characters. And he asked very perceptive questions about various scenes and events, which suggested some rewriting or that I was assuming too much. (One example: I had fallen into cycling jargon, and he told me to simplify and explain.) I was more than pleased with the job he did.

The second person was Claire Burge. I knew I wanted a photograph for the cover illustration, and I was scouring web sites all over the internet. I knew Claire from my work with The High Calling; in fact, she and I had been part of a scavenger hunt team in San Antonio last year. As I searched web sites, I found a photo she posted on her blog of a coffee shop in Dublin. As soon as I saw it, I told myself that this, or something like it, could be the cover. I contacted Claire; we emailed back and forth and back and forth; she proposed several different photos.

Enter the cover designer, Jeremiah Langner. I had worked with Jeremiah on an illustration for a post I did for The High Calling – the drawing of a dragon (he likes to draw dragons). He’s the brother of Kelly Sauer, who’s the assistant photo editor for The High Calling. Kelly was the one who told Claire and I that he had done book covers. He got engaged in the project, helped figure out which photo would work best (turns out it was Claire’s favorite), and came up with an outstanding design.

And then there’s the publisher. A year ago, Mark Sutherland heard me talk about the manuscript and asked to read it. He read it and liked it (and even cried at the right part). He said, “You’re going to have let me publish it.” We laughed and went on with life.

Mark has established a small publishing house, Dunrobin Publishing. It’s published two previous books. One a children’s book on Easter and the other a commentary on the book of Malachi. In August, Mark finally said, “Are you going to let me publish your novel or not?” And I said OK, surprising both of us. He’s now read it at least five times – reading, proofing, checking, rereading and formatting. He told me this morning that every time he’s read it, he’s enjoyed it.

Mark was also something of an acid test. A good chunk of the book is set in Scotland. Mark is a native Scot and naturalized American. He grew up in Edinburgh. He turned out to be the ideal publisher for the book.

There’s also an international diversity to this team. Adam lives in upper Michigan. Claire lives in Ireland. Jeremiah is in South Carolina and Mark in Missouri. The idea for the story started on a plane to San Francisco as I listened to a Greek tenor on an in-flight music program. Parts of the story have been written in Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis, Shreveport, Washington, D.C., Amsterdam and several other places I took my laptop.

But I owe heartfelt thanks to Adam, Claire, Jeremiah and Mark. They took this project on as their own, and the quality shows.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Update on "Dancing Priest"

Dancing Priest is now available for Nook at Barnes and Noble, in addition to Kindle at Amazon.

And the book has its first blog review. Louise Gallagher, over at Recover Your Joy, must have read it almost straight through the night. She posted her review this morning. Part of what she said was this: "I had to read the whole thing. I couldn't stop. The story kept pulling me on. In. Into the lives of two people whose journeys intersected, separated, intersected, separated. And no. I'm not going to tell you which direction they ended up in. You'll have to read it all for yourself."

It's a wonderful review. Of course, I'm biased. But still, it's wonderful.

For Advent: What Gabriel could have said

You have found favour,
Mary, you have indeed;
come, you will bear a child
and Joseph is not the father.

You have found favour,
Mary, come; your neighbors
will question your purity
with rumor and gossip
and speculation, for as
long as you are in Nazareth.

You have found favour,
Mary, come; people will look
at your son and question
his parentage, always.

You have found favour,
Mary, come. Your faithfulness
will be questioned
and your husband pitied
and his judgment doubted
because he did not
put you away.

You have found favour,
Mary, come. The only thing
you have, your reputation,
will be taken from you
long before it is returned.

You have found favour,
Mary, come. Faith is
the cross.

I understand.
I come.
I am the Lord’s servant.
May it be to me
As you have said.

This poem is submitted to the One Word Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock, where the prompt today is "come."

This poem is also submitted to Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. To see more poems, please visit dVerse Poets. The links will be live at 2 p.m. Central time today.

Painting: The Annunciation, oil on canvas by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1898). Phildelphia Museum of Art.

"The Land of Darkness" -- A Giveaway

I can still remember being a young child and having my mother read Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me from a thin but oversized volume with a green cover. I still have the book, and am embarrassed to see that I also used it as a coloring book. But except for the Lord of the Rings novels (read first on college) and the Chronicles of Narnia (read first when my oldest was six), Grimm’s Fairy Tales were my only exposure to the genre of fantasy.

For some months now, I’ve been reading C.S. Lakin’s “Gates of Heaven” series – The Wolf of Tebron, The Map Across Time and The Land of Darkness. Officially they fall into the fantasy genre, but Lakin calls them fairy tales. I’m inclined to agree with her.

Fantasy is not the kind of fiction I usually read, but it is one, thanks to Lakin and Ian Thomas Curtis's The Canticles of Andurun: Dragonsong, that I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy. The sheer creativity of inventing an entire new world of characters, culture, geography and history is impressive, particularly when it’s done well. Lakin does it well. What I find particularly engaging in her novels is how she weaves the story of faith into the narrative in such a way as to make this new world familiar. And I’ve become a fan.

To introduce others to the “Gates of Heaven” novels, we’re doing a giveaway of an autographed copy of The Land of Darkness. The three novels are not consecutive; they can be read independently or in any order. They share geography, culture and history, but they are actually stand-alone novels as well.

To participate in the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment here with the title of your favorite fairy tale. That’s it. I like the “pull a number from a hat” approach and what I do is number the comments, place individual numbered slips of paper in a hat, and pull one out – about as random as you can get. But I think it will be fun to see what fairy tales people might cite.

To be eligible for the giveaway, leave your comment here by Friday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. Central time. I’ll pull the number from a hat and announce the winner here.

Even if you don’t win, I think you’ll find the entire series of the “Gates of Heaven” rewarding reading. I’m looking forward to the final two novels when they’re published in 2012.


My review of The Wolf of Tebron.

My review of The Map Across Time.

My review of The Land of Darkness.

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Dancing Priest" is Available on Kindle

We thought it would happen Thursday, but the Kindle version of my novel Dancing Priest is now live on Amazon.

The Nook version should be available soon at Barnes & Noble. And a few days after that for iBook.

I am sitting here very quietly. Very quietly.

I am trying to be cool.

I am not succeeding.

Thanks to Doug Spurling at Spurling Silver for bringing the news to my attention.

I am staying calm.

I am so NOT staying calm.

"Dancing Priest" -- The Writing Process

It started as an image evoked by a song. The image was a priest dancing on a beach. The song was “Luna Rossa” sung by Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis.

This started in October 2002. At the time, I was working as an independent consultant. The recession had taken its toll on my consulting business, though, and I would soon start to look for a return to regular employment. In the meantime, that dancing priest kept buzzing around my head.

It buzzed for three years. I essentially wrote the story – the entire novel and then some – in my head. Nothing went to paper or the computer screen.

I started mentally writing the story because of having trouble falling asleep. I began to think about the dancing priest, and what he was doing dancing on a beach. I made him part of a tour group that included a young American woman. The group had a dinner in a restaurant. The priest, an Anglican from Britain, and the American woman started a mild flirtation at dinner. I imagined a conversation between the two of them embedded within the conversation by the entire group at dinner.

The story grew and changed. The tour group disappeared. It was just the priest and the woman accidentally meeting and having dinner together. Then the beach disappeared. The priest became a young man studying for the priesthood in Scotland, the woman an American exchange student.

Two years into this “mental writing” process, I took up road biking. A few weeks later, so did the priest, except he rode for his university’s team and was a contender for the British Olympic team. By this time, he had acquired a full-blown history – born in England and raised by Scottish guardians. The mental writing at night before falling asleep continued.

Looking back, I can tell when this whole exercise started to get truly serious – early 2005. How do I know that? By the dates on documents I was beginning to collect for research. When my wife would ask about the pile of news stories on Britain, I would mumble something about a “writing project” – I wasn’t ready to tell anyone, including her, that I was working on a novel.

In the summer of 2005, the mental writing process – and the story – had become so involved that I needed a way to keep track of it. I began to make notes and outlines. And then, one day in the fall of 2005, I started writing the story on my computer.

Once I started, it was almost as if I couldn’t stop. The words came pouring out of my head, except it wasn't a “stream of consciousness” exercise – I had been writing and editing and rewriting the story in my head for three years. It flowed and flowed, and the flow became a torrent. By the time I finished, I had a manuscript of more than 150,000 words – closer to two novels than to one.

So I did what any writer would do – I split it roughly in half, and started rewriting the first half, over and over again. Rewriting, and new ideas, caused the first half to creep back up to 100,000 words, and so I began to edit and cut. (One of the cut scenes, the story of how the hero’s parents first met, is the story “Gratitude” I posted on Nov. 17.)

By this time, given the amount of time I was spending typing, I had told my wife what I was up to. At some point, she read an early version of the manuscript. I asked her just to read it for the story – and not edit it (she’s a first-class editor but at that point I had not done any serious editing myself).

She started reading. Some days into it, she called me at work and left a message. She was in tears. She had reacted to a certain scene in the way I had hoped she would, the way I had hoped any reader would. (The publisher – a man – had the same reaction to the same scene when he read it.)

I spent a good year on rewriting and editing. In the meantime, the story kept growing and developing. I completed the second manuscript, and there are six others in various stages of creation – from a 4,000-word story summary to a 70,000-word manuscript.

I went to a writer’s conference, where I met with an editor who had critiqued a section. We introduced ourselves, sat down, and then she said, “What happened to Henry and Anna? I have to know!” I took that as a good sign.

At the same conference, I met with an agent, who threw up all over it. “It won’t work,” he said. “No one will accept a romance like that. And it needs to be vampire chick lit,” a reference to the Stephanie Meyer “Twilight” series that had just become all the rage. “Look,” he said, “I just signed a multi-book deal for an author who’s writing about a woman who’s a late night radio talk show host – and also a werewolf. That’s what’s publishers are buying.”

I sent carefully constructed queries and pitch letters to all the usual agents, and received all the usual form rejections. Some of the queries were major projects – and I concluded that agents are trying to discourage as many people as possible.

I kept writing and editing. Then one day, a friend who had published a book himself and was working on a children’s book asked to read the manuscript. The world didn’t change overnight, but it began to change.

Images, from top: University of Edinburgh; men’s road race at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing; part of the ceremony at the ordination of Anglican priests; mission style church (similar to the one in the novel). All are elements of "Dancing Priest."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Discovering Advent" by Mark Roberts

I grew up in a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in New Orleans. Catholic New Orleans. To say we were aware of our minority status would be an understatement. From St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter to the hundreds of Catholic churches and all over the city, and the strong school system that included some of the best high schools in the state, Protestants in general tended to find themselves a relatively small group. All of that would change, particularly after Vatican II and the changes it brought to the Catholic Church, but in the 195os the Catholic Church dominated the religious scene in the city.

My Lutheran church was definitely a liturgical church, but we tended to less liturgical side of things, almost as if we were trying to prove how different we were from the Catholic churches. So there wasn’t much emphasis on the church calendar or the church year. We observed Lent, Easter and Christmas, of course; most everyone did that. But that was about the extent of it.

Flash forward 50 years. The church we now attend, Central Presbyterian Church in suburban St. Louis, doesn’t observe the entire church calendar, but it does include Advent. Each year, for the four Sunday leading up to Christmas, an Advent candle is lit, usually by a different family each week who shares a short devotion and prayer.

I knew what it was, but I didn’t fully understand the meaning of the candles or even the colors associated with Advent until I read Discovering Advent by Mark Roberts. Roberts, the scholar in residence at Laity Lodge and minister, teacher and author, has written an introduction to Advent that explains the meaning of the season well beyond “the weeks leading up to Christmas.”

He tells the story of Advent by telling the story of his own personal experience with the season, from largely nothing to an awareness to a growing appreciation for what it means. For readers like me, this sounds like a very familiar journey, one which helps us reach a deeper understanding of what the Advent season is.

It is a time of waiting and expectation, Roberts says, and a time of anticipation. Each of the candles that are lit has a special significance – waiting for the shepherd, forgiveness, waiting with joy and waiting for the Son. And while Advent is full of symbol and ceremony, the main point, Roberts, says, is to grow “into a deeper, truer relationship with God. It’s sharing our yearning and hope with the community of faith. It’s getting in touch with our need for a Savior and our yearning for the kingdom of God.”

He includes a complete devotional guide, explaining what to do, how to do it, and examples of prayers, devotions and readings.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. It’s a good day to light an Advent candle. It's a good day to consider waiting for the Shepherd.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Good Reads

A lot of people wrote about gratitude and thanksgiving this week – and a few on Black Friday. Jennifer Dukes-Lee compared Black Friday to another Friday. Brendan MacOdrum muses on what a guitar is. Jeanne Damoff photographs a community of thanks. And a lot more, too.


Confessions of a Thanksgiving Slacker” by Kathy Richards at Katdish.

Getting What We’re Owed” by Billy Coffey at What I Learned Today.

Hiding Behind Fiction” by Gina Holmes at Novel Journey.

Pilate’s Choice” by Ed Blonski for True Men’s Ministries.

The plant lady” by Louise Gallagher at Recover Your Joy.

It’s Magic” by Sandra Heska King.

In My Daughters’ Eyes” by Mike Dellosso.

The November and December” by Travis Thrasher at The Journey Is Everything.

God Sets the Lonely in Families” by Fatha Frank at Public Christianity.

Good Friday Thanks on Black Friday” by Jennifer Dukes-Lee at Getting down with Jesus.

The thirty-year itch” by Jim Schmotzer for Catapult Magazine.


Sometimes” by Tulika Verma at Indulgence.

Anna Kamienska” by D.S. Martin at Kingdom Poets.

Salty Grace” by Kathleen Overby at Almost Paradisical.

Red and Blue Polka Dots” by Louise Gallagher at Recover Your Joy.

Fighting Weeds” by Maureen Doallas at Writing Without Paper.

In Hell There Is Democracy” by Justinian at Delight and Glory and Oddity and Light.

What is a Guitar” by Brendan MacOdrum at Oran’s Well.

Paintings and Photographs

Refuge Autumn Study,” oil on canvas by Randall David Tipton at Painter’s Process.

Gratitude” by Susan Etole at Just…A Moment.

Well Played” by J of India at neither Use Nor Ornament.

Friend, Today” by Claire Burge.

Beauty is” by Laura Boggess at The Wellspring.

A Community of Thanks” by Jeanne Damoff for All the Church Ladies.


Autumn Festival of Songs” by Michael Dodaro at Lyric Arts Forum.

Illustration: Abstract Painting by David Wagner via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Charles Martin's "Wrapped in Rain"

Charles Martin’s novel Wrapped in Rain was first published in 2005, with a new edition published in 2006. If anything, the story has gotten better with time.

Tucker Mason, a globetrotting photographer who works under the name of Tucker Rain, has come home to Clopton, Alabama, exhausted after seven years of work after attempting to keep the demons of childhood at bay. Home is Waverly Hall, the edifice his father built to himself, a huge sprawling place filled for Tucker with the memories of human extremes – from the violence and [physical abuse of his wealthy, entrepreneurial, vicious, nasty father Rex Mason to the unconditional love of Miss Ella Rain, the black maid hired by his father to care first for him and later for his half-brother Matthew, known as Mutt.

Rex is now in an Alzheimer’s care facility, Mutt is confined in an institution trying to deal with his array of psychological disorders, including schizophrenia, and Miss Ella has not been dead for seven years from cancer.

Miss Ella may be dead, but she still talks to and with Tucker.

Mutt escapes the institutional home; Tucker runs across his childhood girlfriend, fleeing her own demon of a former husband who physically abused both her and their five-year-old son. Tucker now has to confront what happened to Mutt, what his own relationship with Katie is, and the weight of his own past.

It’s a remarkable story, skillfully woven together in what is one of Martin’s best novels – and that’s saying something because he hasn’t written a bad or mediocre one yet. The reader comes to know Tucker and Mutt, as both men strive to deal with all of what happened to them at the hands of their father.

And there is Miss Ella, one of the most memorable “dead” characters I’ve come across. The reader hears her voice and recognizes its authenticity while at the same time reaching toward her core message for Tucker and Mutt – love trumps all. An it is there that this story largely set in rural Alabama and Jacksonville, Florida becomes both real and universal.

Wrapped in Rain is one powerful novel of love and forgiveness.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving: Two Sons

We have two sons, born almost eight years apart. There’s a reason for that. The first one was such a tornado that we didn’t think we could manage another – and stay sane. But we did manage the two.

Travis is now 31; Andrew is almost 24. They are about as different as you could find. The one thing they have in common is that both wanted to go to colleges far, far away, and both ended up at the University of Missouri. The university did manage to survive.

Travis walked at nine months, for exactly one day. Then he ran and didn’t stop. From early on, he was a sports fan. Any sport. Baseball became his favorite, but he’d watch anything with a ball. When he was five, we found him awake one Saturday morning watching TV – a golf game.

He was (and still is) a natural in front on the camera. Mugged for it, in fact – he loved having his picture taken.

Andrew also loves sports, but he’s more selective about it. He loved playing basketball, and he did play in high school, but he didn’t get his growth spurt until after he graduated. He was a quiet and extraordinarily shy child.

He would see a camera and become hysterical. We have countless pictures of Andrew crying at having his picture taken. We have countless pictures of the two of them together – Travis mugging for the camera and Andrew crying or hiding his face. Same gene pool; go figure.

Travis is our salesman. Put him in a roomful of strangers and he’ll know most of them within 30 minutes. He is large and in charge, and you always knew when Travis was around. In the scholarship department, well, let’s say Travis was smart about the things he wanted to be smart about. We read to him as a child, oh, did we read to him; both of his parents loved to read and we just assumed he would love books, too. Winnie the Pooh. Chronicles of Narnia. Fairy tales. His idea of a good book: listening to the audio tapes of Superman, Batman and Justice League of America stories. Preferably with others around – being solitary was not his idea of a good time.

Andrew loved having friends, but he went in for more solitary pursuits as well. He rode the Harry Potter book craze. He took up the clarinet – a surprise, since no one else in the immediate family played an instrument. He even played for the school band through high school. In his sophomore year, he came home from school and totally shocked us with the announcement that he’d like to go to Australia for three weeks with the People to People program – three weeks, thousands of miles away, with kids he had never met before. And he followed through on what he had to do and went. He went snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, slept outside on a ranch to wake up to frost covering his face (it was winter there), lived for three days with a family in Sydney and went to school with one of their kids. He came back a different, far more confident young man, and loved the program so much he went to Europe the following summer.

Travis started college as a business major. It didn’t take long for him to find the closest thing the university offered to sports marketing – which turned out to be in the College of Agriculture. After he graduated, he worked in sports marketing for a semi-pro baseball team in the St. Louis area. Then he got wind of an opportunity with an expansion league in the West, and packed off to Phoenix. The league went bust (the investor owners wanted profit in the first year and that wasn’t likely to happen) but Travis looked around and landed on his feet, going to work for a Marriott franchise. He met and married Stephanie, but he was not meant for staying in Phoenix long-term. His St. Louis roots called him back home; he’s a St. Louis kid if there ever was one. He’s got a manager position with the biggest Hilton in St. Louis (the Ballpark Hilton, right near Busch Stadium; what a surprise for our sports child) but was eventually assigned to turn around another property in suburban St. Louis. Which he has.

Andrew started the University of Missouri in the College of Business and stayed there, getting a degree in finance. After graduation, he went to work for Farmers Insurance in Kansas City in one of their two U.S. claims offices. One brutal winter later, he decided he was more interested in a warmer climate, and is now working for Farmers in Florida. He likes the work, which requires a lot of initiative and being a self-starter. I think back to that little boy hiding his face from the camera, and am amazed.

They are eight years apart, and very different in so many ways. And yet they have remained close. As a child Andrew adored his older brother; Travis was always thrilled to have another kid in the family. When Travis got married, Andrew was his best man. Travis’s first child is named Cameron Andrew (I say first child because the second is due in May).

Eight years difference in age. They live 1,500 miles apart. Different outlooks, personalities, lines of work. But they’re still wonderfully close.

I’m proud of both of them. We worried over both; we still do. But they turned into pretty cool adults. Last night, Andrew braved the Thanksgiving airport madness and flew home. We have them both together, along with Stephanie and my grandson.

Two fine young men. Two brothers. Two sons I give thanks to God for giving us.

This post is part of Bonnie Gray’s blog carnival on faith over at Faith Barista. Today is all about Thanksgiving; to see more posts, head on over there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The visionary

A line of sight cracks
through darkness, finding
openings of light, fractions
of reality streaming amid
a gloom of brokenness.
Folded and tied,
the gathered curtain
pulls back for a brief
shining moment,
a morning star
in a night sky,
sufficient for hope.

This poem is submitted for the Warrior Poet Circle, hosted by Jason Stasyszen at Connecting to Impact.

It is also submitted for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. The links will be live at 2 p.m. Central time today.

Photograph: Sunset Between Trees by Alice Birkin via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

"Dancing Priest:" The Inspiration

The idea for my soon-to-be published novel Dancing Priest came from a song I heard on an airplane.

In October 2002, I was flying from St. Louis to San Francisco to attend the annual meeting of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). I was more than an attendee; I was also an official delegate to the PRSA Assembly, which met the day before the annual meeting began. So I would have been flying on a Friday; the assembly met on Saturday.

I don’t recall what the in-flight movie was, but whatever it was, I didn’t watch it. Instead, I flipped through the various music channels, until I happened upon this incredible tenor voice singing.

The voice belonged to the Greek singer Mario Frangoulis. I hadn’t heard of him before but I listened as the host of the program interviewed him in between songs. He sang in multiple languages – Greek, Italian, English, French and Spanish (he’s also fluent in all five languages). I was amazed at the quality of his voice and his multilingual singing ability. The program was a promotion of his recently released album “Sometimes I Dream.”

At some point in the musical program, Frangoulis sang “Luna Rossa,” or “Red Moon.” Here is the song as he sang it at a concert in Thessalonika in Greece, which I am fairly certain is the version I heard on the airplane:

The song evoked an image in my mind: a priest dancing on a beach. And it wasn’t a Catholic priest, but an Episcopal or Anglican priest. He wasn't dancing by himself but with others, possibly part of a tour group.

The in-flight program ended, but the music kept playing through my head. The album included several other songs that would later become important. It also had “Buongiorno Principessa” from the movie Life is Beautiful and “Nights in White Satin” sung with Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues (a stunning version of the song).

When we landed in San Francisco, I made my way to my downtown hotel and then went looking for a music store. I found a Border’s Bookstore nearby and rode the escalator to the music department on the fourth floor. Just as escalator arrived on the floor, straight ahead of me I saw a large display for the Frangoulis CD. I bought the CD.

I have likely listened to the CD no fewer than 250 times. Every time I heard “Luna Rossa,” the image of the priest dancing on the beach came back. I couldn’t shake the image. And then one day, the image “progressed,” as it were. The priest and the people he was traveling with, including a young American woman, walked from the beach into a restaurant for dinner. At that moment, the idea of a novel was born.

Several songs on the CD helped to frame the novel. The title song, “Sometimes I Dream,” is the song I had in my mind as the music for a very early scene I still refer to as “The Last Tango in Edinburgh.”

But while the idea of the novel was born and began to take shape, I would not put pen to paper (or words to computer screen, to be more exact) for three more years.