Ten Novels? Never!

Ten Novels? Never!

Posted on October 4 by Don Easton
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Hello, my name is Don Easton and I am the author of the Jack Taggart Mystery series. This year is a milestone for me (and no doubt my editor) with the release of my 10th novel, A Delicate Matter. I never believed or even allowed myself to dream that I would write that many books. When I first started writing I thought I had what it took to get one novel published –– but ten? Don’t be ridiculous. No way!

"It turned out I was wrong about several things."

Let me explain my road to discovery by starting with what I did before becoming a writer. I worked as an undercover RCMP officer for twenty years. I’d had several contracts placed on my life and witnessed horrific crimes. Nearing retirement, someone suggested I should write about my experiences. I thought, hey, after what I’ve been through, that should be easy.

I completed my first manuscript and gave it to my wife to read. She is an avid mystery reader and I was excited to see what she thought. That was my first mistakes –– don’t have your partner critique your work –– it does nothing to promote harmony in a relationship! She threw it back at me after the first chapter and told me it read like a police report. Insulted, I asked her what she meant. In response, she questioned me about a murder I’d witnessed. She wanted to know what I was really thinking when I was sitting and having a drink while watching the murder take place. I told her the truth. At the time I was thinking I was glad it wasn’t me! Her response was simple … then put that in the book! I hate losing arguments with my wife, but I suspected she was right.

"What I lacked in writing skills I made up for by being doggedly determined."

I realized then that I needed to learn how to write novels and started taking creative writing classes. Foreshadowing, cliffhangers, show, don’t tell … that was only part of it. Even after ten novels, I’m still learning and feel some guilt every time my manuscripts go through the editing process. Fortunately my editors are helpful, collaborative and friendly –– obviously they’re masochists.

Part of my learning process was deciding what to write about. Did I have the “write” stuff? Could I honestly open up my thought process and incorporate real emotions into my text? It took a while, but I persevered. What I lacked in writing skills I made up for by being doggedly determined. I took class after class. Finally, after about nine years, I started sending my manuscript out. That was when I realized I’d received some bad advice from an experienced author. She told me not to worry about having my manuscript rejected. She said that every time she received a rejection she’d sit in a warm bath and pour herself a glass of wine. Obviously she didn’t get as many rejections as I did. If she had, she’d be a blithering alcoholic incapable of forming a sentence. Loose Ends#039;s first novel" />

Eleven years after handing my wife my first manuscript, I attended the Surrey International Writer’s Conference and was fortunate enough to meet Kirk Howard, founder of Dundurn. He took an interest in my work and in 2005, my first novel, Loose Ends, was published. 

I was asked if I planned to write more novels. Are you kidding? It took me thirteen years to get my first novel published! Do you think I’d go through that again? Do I look insane to you? I really didn’t think I had it in me, but six months later I started to think about writing a sequel. Somehow I squeezed out a second novel that was published two years after my first novel. There, that’s it –– I’m done. Then three months passed –– okay, one more … then another. I think you get the picture. It really does get easier. Looking back I would never have believed it possible. Perhaps someday I’ll even write about the time I dropped my corkscrew and almost drowned in my bathtub…

Don Easton

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
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Don Easton

Don Easton worked as an undercover Mountie for twenty years, including seven years in an RCMP Intelligence Unit. He lives in Victoria, B.C.