Nickolai Chernyshevski and Vladimir Lenin wrote essays fretting over What is to be done? As do I; fret, that is. Their ambition was to remake Russia; mine is somewhat less, merely to tell you what my plans are, or specifically, what I will publish over the next two years. There is a danger in publicly sharing ones goals. Excuse me, wasn’t Broken Codes to be published in October? You are beholden to your projections.
Nevertheless, I intend to write and publish:A Novel Series
Soldier in the Long War
Soldier in the Long War is the subtitle to five novels which tell the stories of four characters over forty years (1950-1990). We encounter an American, Michael Richard Belisle, his French-Canadian childhood friend, Marie Jeanne Charbonneau, whose lived with eventually intertwine with two Russians: Danton Larionov, the son of the NKVD executioner, who in rebellion becomes a GRU agent, and Ekaterina Soroka, a story teller. M.J. Charbonneau and Ekaterina Soroka become fast friends. Michael Richard and Danton do not. The phrase, ‘soldier in a long war,’ informs each novel and character of the course of the long war.
Spirit Falls (Dog Ear Press, 2009) introduced Michael Richard Belisle, and his French-Canadian school friend, Marie Jeanne Charbonneau, growing up on the shores of Lake Superior in the 1950s, and their encounters with the shards of World War II: their shell-shocked fathers, former prisoners of war, displaced persons from Europe’s killing fields.
Wounded follows Richard, driven from his childhood Eden, to Phenix, Alabama, a town as evil in 1960 as America gets, and thence onto a plateau in southwest Colorado, a world as beautiful as America gets. M.J. joins him and they come to believe they have returned to Eden. They are mistaken.
The novel’s denouement occurs on October 27, 1962 the Soviet Union and United States are ‘eye to eye’ in the Cuban Missile Crisis as the two kids move a flock of sleep through a blizzard.
Wounded is probably done. I gave it Patrice to edit and she has returned it. I will incorporate her comments, then send the finished manuscript to copy editor Jan Weeks this June to publish in September 2013. Fingers crossed.
I will take up The Executioner’s Son when we move to Croatia in November this year and expect to complete the draft by the time we return in May 2014.
Danton Larionov is the youngest of sixteen brothers from Suzdahl, once the capitol of Russia, of whom twelve had gone in 1941 to war; in 1945 two returned. Suzdahl, Russia, one of Russia’s enchanting medieval Golden Ring cities, had been left mostly untouched by war, War Communism and Soviet industrialization. Its ancient monasteries and fortresses have become NKVD way-stations to the GULAG. Danton, son of an NKVD sergeant, is a powerful presence, a bully. He encounters Ekaterina Soroka on the Illian Pasture, herding gees. Her rape is averted when she tells him a Russian fairy tale. He is smitten.
Even in the classless Soviet Union mothers could judge young men inappropriate for their daughters, especially the son of a NKVD thug, and one day Ekaterina disappears. He vows to find her, but how? In deception-filled Soviet Union, it is only the organs of Soviet intelligence that have access to truth. The NKVD are murderous thugs; military intelligence, the GRU, is honorable and becomes his trade.
Paths cross. Ekaterina meet Marie Jeanne when the young Canadian plays Brahm’s Piano Concerto no. 2 at the Tchaikovski Competition in Moscow. Richard spies Danton Larionov in a Laotian pass through the lens of a 9X Unertl sniper scope mounted on a match-conditioned, .30-06 Springfield caliber, Model-70 Winchester.
Broken Codes is set in 1973 Germany and takes place on the ancient and bloodied trails of Thuringia, in the decadence of underground Berlin, in the corridors of American and Soviet power. Captain Russ Vail is a young officer seeking the glory that escaped him in Vietnam.
As the world goes on nuclear alert on October 26, 1973, Vail is pursued by Soviet troops and East German border police who suspect he has stolen certain missile codes. He has. Although Vail escapes with his life, he faces the consequences of his actions in bringing about the near destruction of his world for the sake of glory.
It is sufficient here to note that both the troubled US Army Major M. Richard Belisle and the disfigured GRU Captain Larionov, each for his own reason, encounter one another again, closer now.
Broken Codes is already written, but I plan to publish The Executioner’s Son before Broken Codes––a series, you know––but I’ll think further about it once I get Wounded off the copy editor, when I’ll have time to breath. As Franz Schubert in a letter to a friend describing the process for a piece he was then composing noted “It is difficult, damnably difficult.’
Resolution Trust. I have a great deal of trouble writing conclusions to books. I know there is a fifth novel that takes place sometime around 1990. We shall see what the summer 2014 brings.
Patrice and I have written a series of interlinked short stories with two characters; Michael Walker, an American soldier, and Charlotte Fine, a dancer, each of whom once had towering ambitions, meet one another in winter in small town after the fall. Catholic and Jew, they are guilty, driven to repair what damage they have done.
The first short story, Bereft, appears June this year and then one/two a month thereafter until I publish the collection. They stories address notions disabused, people sobered by dreams dissolved, yet people still hopeful, struggling to rebuild. For these people, suicide is not an option.
Patrice is timid. When she sings, she makes me sit facing away. She writes very, very well. I will strive to pry her stories from her clenched MacIntosh hard drive when are living in Rovinj, Croatia. Patrice is wrestling with and I am encouraging her to finish a murder mystery she had begun before we moved to Moscow.She is the better storyteller, and I expect the change in scenery to up both our literary productions.
Ледоход: (Spirit Falls translated into Russian)
I am arranging the translations of my writings into several languages, but this year and next, I am concentrating on Russian (and possibly) Portuguese in order to figure out best how to manage this foreign language business. Step at a time.
My homeland, those northern Wisconsin counties––Lincoln, Taylor and Langlade––that straddle the Pleistocene glacial morraines, plays a big role in my writing. Sergei Kotlar, Merrill, Wisconsin, translated Spirit Falls, into Russian. I speak Russian well enough to think that his translation is better than the original. Kim Nickle, an emigrant from Merrill, Wisconsin, designs my book covers. Cyberwitch, from someplace else, is formatting the Russian text into Kindle, EPub and trade paperback formats as we speak.
Beatriz, I encourage you to begin the Portuguese translations (:->).
Liar’s Path Publishing, LLC
I’ve established my own publishing company. I’ve described here and here my sense that Steven Jobs, Andrew Wozniak and Bill Gates played the major role in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and, as an afterthought, are turning the US publishing world upside down. Thirty-five odd years after the rollout of the MacIntosh 512K desktop computer, American writer’s are building different paths to their readers. As of today, I have nothing to show save the logo. There is much to learn, and learn I do. For those of you who buy my analogy (Collapse of Soviet Union, collapse of traditional publishing model, etc), I model my business plan on Dean Wesley Smith’s Think Like A Publisher. Liar’s Path Publishing will be much further along one year from now, promise.
In summary, I will publish:
- Spirit Falls (published)
- Ледоход (Spirit Falls translated into Russian)
- four/five short stories.
- Thirteen Overcoats Sergei Kotlar and I have translated an essay, Thirteen Coats, by Evgenii Belodubrovskij of St. Petersberg, a stream of consciousness creation reminiscent of a favorite (of mine) Chekhov’s story (The Harm Humanity Suffers through the Use of Tobacco). I plan to publish several of my novels in dual-language format. Belodubrovskij’s Russian is especially difficult, and Sergei Kotlar is a magical translator.
In 2014, I will publish:
- The Executioner’s Son
- Spirit Falls (in Portuguese)
- Broken Codes
- Anything Patrice is willing to release.
Eh, we’ll see.