The Return Of Nick Kepler

In 2004, I signed with a tiny press on the greater Baltimore area thinking I’d sell a lot of books. The publisher would turn around and pitch my contract to Random House (or some other Big Six publisher in New York), and I’d be on my way. G’wan. Ask me how well that worked out.

Northcoast Shakedown by Jim Winter

Anyway, Northcoast Shakedown remains my only traditionally published novel to date. The micropress collapsed. My books were orphaned. I had written Second Hand Goods before signing the deal, and had Bad Religion finished before that book was about to come out. So now I had a three-book series with no home. I decided to put Kepler aside in 2006 to write Road Rules. I got an agent. We shopped it for about a year with no joy. In the meantime, I worked on a Wire/87th Precinct-inspired novel called Holland Bay. Once all 105,000 words of the first draft went in the can, I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. I quit writing.

And took him away to New Orleans.

Nick lives on the calendar. Northcoast Shakedown takes place in 2002 (when it was completed.) Second Hand Goods occurs 11 months later in 2003, with Bad Religion in 2004. That puts Gypsy’s Kiss in the spring of 2005.

Second Hand Goods

And we all know what happened in New Orleans in 2005.

Now, my wife has insisted she wants another Kepler. For the first time, I’m doing a novel by request. Where it goes and how it reaches the public is anyone’s guess at this point. I have to look back at the timelines to make this work as we open in Baton Rouge just before Katrina makes landfall. Nick and Gyspy are summoned back to New Orleans where the action begins.

Not only am I now constrained by historical events where, previously, I was writing in the present day, or only two years after the fact. There’s a danger of overcompensating.

Also, I’m doing something different with the writing. Normally, all my fiction is written first “with the door closed.” No one sees a new work except maybe some passages I bounce off other writers. Then I go to beta readers before final edits are done.

This time, my wife will get to read the story as I write it. It’s by request. I’ve never done this before. But I trust her implicitly

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