I will be reading from Wasted, my “green noir” mystery set in the Berkeley recycling world, at Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael on Saturday, October 17 at 7pm. Please join me for what I promise will be a fun and stimulating evening.
In Wasted, Berkeley reporter Brian Hunter investigates the “recycling wars,” finds the body of his friend Doug crushed in an aluminum bale, and hunts down the murderer, all the while trying to win the heart of Barb, Doug’s former lover, now a suspect in his murder.
But Wasted is not just another trashy mystery. Part love triangle, part midlife crisis, and part political satire, it explores rich and resonant themes of reinvention, transition, and discarding that which no longer serves us.
Two other Marin appearances:
- November 1 (Sunday) 3 pm, Tam Valley Cabin (Tennessee Valley Road)
- November 19 (Thursday) 7 pm, The Depot, 87 Throckmorton, Mill Valley
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I’d like to share one story from the reading at the Ecology Center, about how thrilling it was to read Wasted as if I were a reader and not the author.
After I completed Wasted in the early 2000s, I sent out query letters to about 60 or 70 agents. I got about eight or nine nibbles, two who read the whole book, and one, who I was sure was going to take me on, but didn’t. She said she really liked it, but didn’t think she could sell it. Maybe she says that to everyone.
I put the book aside, got on with my life, and a few years later, wrote and published Bones in the Wash: Politics is Tough. Family is Tougher.
Response was heartening, though, as I expected, finding readers has continued to be a challenge. There have been enough, however, that I decided to go back and read Wasted, with the idea that I would rework it one more time and get it out onto the marketplace.
This was spring of 2014, and I remember when I was about three-quarters of the way through the book, and it was lunchtime and I was hungry, but I couldn’t stop reading. The story was racing along, and I could not remember where it was going. I was totally hooked.
It had been maybe five years since I’d last picked it up, and I read it almost as if I were reading it for the first time. I’d forgotten enough of the details that I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. That was a pretty thrilling feeling. The only time I experienced Wasted as a reader and not as the author.
Not that I didn’t stumble on some flaws. So I rewrote it another time or two, and according to my proprietary algorithm, it’s at least 10 percent improved. I’d love to hear what you think.