A couple of questions on behalf of struggling
writers - How long did it take to write The House
of Gentle Men and how long to
get it published? Did you have an agent? Do you have a drawer full of rejection slips?
This book took, all told, perhaps six or seven months to write,
rewrite and research. Perhaps a little longer. but it was off and on, so the period of time from conception to
final draft to the editor was over a year and a half. Yes, I had an agent. He put the book out and we had the first
offer within a few days. I have a small drawer full of rejection slips, mostly from agents. However, I ended up
with interest from several good agents and I feel there is a definite art to writing query letters; one that all
writers should practice. My tip is: Intrigue them, grab them by the throat, surprise them, impress them in the
very first sentence.
There is much discussion about inner demons
in the book. What inner demons are Charlotte, Milo, Justin, Louise, Benjamin, Belinda, and Mr. Olen grappling with?
Yes, I agree. Much demon activity. To run them down: Charlotte
struggles with twin demons: What's been done to her and what she's done. She's caught in a crossfire of resentment
and personal guilt. Milo is haunted by his role in his mother's death. His place in the community, or lack thereof,
is rigid and he wants desperately to change from goat to hero. Justin can't get over his part in a long-ago rape.
His relationship with Charlotte both soothes and tortures him. Louise has never forgiven her mother for abandoning
her. Belinda's "demon" is her husband and the fact that she's chosen an outward happiness over an inward
one. Mr. Olen is full of regret that he let his wife slip through his fingers. Like the author, he thinks words
can fix everything. Thus he spends hour after hour trying to write the perfect letter. And Benjamin is probably
the least haunted. He struggles with the question of what it really means to be a man.
What personality traits arise from their
struggle with their demons?
Well they say that a person's inner character is revealed through
adversity. Milo proves himself to be intensely loyal, and loving in a fierce, good-intentioned way. Benjamin becomes
more considerate and gentle. The things that happen to Louise reveal that she desperately would like to break out
of her rigidity, and that love--or her version of love--can transform her.