At The Nervous Breakdown: Research, and How to Fake It.

research.jpgI have a new essay up at The Nervous Breakdown: “Research, and How to Fake It.”

When preparing to write a novel, the role of research can’t be overstated. There are moments of panic in every writer’s life when they realize they don’t know what vermouth tastes like on its own (kind of medicinal and dry, with a hint of a tonic flavor as the result of herbs added to what is basically cheap wine), how many years it takes one to go from law school to full fledged partner (seven, if you don’t ever go home or have any connection to what one might call “a life”) or how difficult it might be to have sex in a moving vehicle while driving (still in the planning stages). Research fills the cracks between a character being anyone and being someone, making them particular, making them resonant with an audience. Even if your reader doesn’t know that the stick shift could prove a tremendous hindrance (or aid) to the mobile love scene, they must trust that you, the writer know that it would cause problems (or move things along at a nice clip). If the writing rings authentic and true then, ironically, the reader won’t even notice the writer is there; if it is inauthentic then it is as if the writer has just arrived, uninvited, and soiled the dinner napkins…

Read it HERE.


Now that my book is out, printed and bound and shipped and even (fingers crossed) purchased by people, nothing can be changed. One of the things that can’t be changed is a lack of an acknowledgments page. When I was asked about doing one I was, to be honest, overwhelmed. What if I left someone out? What if it sounded stupid or self-serving or puerile. I just looked up the word puerile. It’s a good word.
So the book is out and it can’t be changed and here I sit thinking about who I should have acknowledged. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing, however, because if I put it up here then people who have the book can print this out, and stick it in the book, maybe even right up at the front so that the acknowledgments come first, and those who might not buy the book will still get a chance to see it.
With all that said, here’s an acknowledgments page I would like people to add to my book:

I would like to give my love and thanks to my parents and my brother. My parents taught me the value of storytelling, my brother taught me I wasn’t alone in my passion for it.
I would like to thank every teacher I ever had. From elementary school through graduate school, I was blessed to be surrounded by thoughtful, loving, brilliant minds who had the selflessness to want to help others learn how to learn. For a long time (a loooooong time) I rejected the idea of being a student, but when I embraced it I realized how amazing all of my teachers were.
I want to thank my wife and son for putting up with me.
I want to thank the amazing community of writers I’ve become a part of, the network of those with a passion to tell a story, in whatever genre, whatever form, published or not, face to face or via the internet. You are all inspiring and inspired and I am amazed on a daily basis that any of you show any interest in conversing with me. I am more than proud to consider many, many of you friends and I aspire to be that for you.
I want to thank every single person at Harper Perennial. All of you. Thank you.
I want to thank every single person at FinePrint Literary Management. All of you. Thank you.
Most importantly, I want to thank readers. All readers, everywhere, whether they read my work or not, whether they like my work or not. If you read fiction, if you think about it and talk about it and share your love of it with anyone, thank you thank you thank you. You are why I write. Know that. It’s why most writers write. Without readers I’m just a cave painter talking about today’s hunt. With you I am part of a community, a culture. Without you my words do nothing. With you they breathe. Thank you. Thank you.

Wonder where I get it from?

An actual e-mail from my mother:

I was reading the new Readers Digest and in it there is a short feature of work-related jokes. One of the stories was about the finalists for the “Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book title of the Year. After reading the winning entries, I thought that it would be unique if Sean’s title “Numb” was placed before each title, thus creating an interesting twist on the penchant for subtitles for books. Here they are in no particular order:
Numb: Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter
Numb: An Intellectual History of Cannibalism
Numb: Father Christmas Needs a Wee!
Numb: Collectible spoons of the 3rd Reich
And my personal favorite:
Numb: The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease