That’s part of the reason I haven’t had a new book out in a few years. (The other reason: These days, I’ve found, editors respond even more slowly than I write.)
It took me a year to write my first novel, Holmes on the Range. Now, with twenty books under my bulging belt, I’ve gotten a little faster.
A novel the same length? About 85,000 words? Requiring lots of research and outlining? At my new, comparatively blistering rate, I could probably crank it out in . . . oh, let’s say eleven months, three weeks, six days, twenty-three hours, fifty-nine minutes. Give or take a minute.
I know I should write faster. How am I going to become the new James Patterson at this rate? That guy puts out three new books in the time it takes me to eat a Tootsie Pop. (In fairness, I eat Tootsie Pops slowly, too. I’m not one of those lunatics who cheat and bite it after three licks.)
Yet despite knowing that I need to develop the proverbial need for speed, I’m boldly going in reverse: I’ve embarked on my slowest, most drawn-out book project yet. Eleven months, three weeks, six days, twenty-three hours and some-odd minutes? Ha! That would be writing at warp speed compared to this. I don’t think I’m going to finish this book in less than a decade.
Which isn’t to say you’ll have to wait that long to read it. A chapter appeared in AHMM two years ago under the title “The Last Noel.” Another appeared in AHMM last year as “Do Not Open Till Christmas.” And now a third—“The Grown-Ups Table”—is appearing in the magazine, as well.
All three take place in River City, Indiana, in the days leading up to the same Christmas. And I guess it’s one messed-up Christmas, because I’ve written another crime story about it, as well. Hopefully it’ll pop up in AHMM one of these days . . . followed by a fifth River City Christmas story and a sixth and a seventh . . .
Ten should do the trick. Or maybe a dozen. That would have me finishing the book, at the earliest, in 2032.
Maybe by then we’ll all have holographic wreaths and sentient A.I. trees that decorate themselves. I leave it to someone writing for Asimov’s or Analog to explore that. Me—I’ll be writing about Christmas crime for Alfred Hitchcock . . . for a very long time.
Steve Hockensmith is the author of the Holmes on the Range mysteries, the Tarot Mystery series and a variety of other novels and collections. You can learn more about him (and how he’s managed to write so much despite being sooooooooo slow) at stevehockensmith.com.
5 responses to “Steve Hockenmith on Life in the Slow Lane”
I’ll look forward to this! And to the adventures along the way!
Love the Tootsie Pop reference! And you know I love your Christmas stories. Looking forward to more.
Thanks, friends — hope your holiday seasons are off to great starts (and that you’re both writing much, much faster than me)!
I just read “The Grown-Ups Table.” Very good. I loved the reason Cryptique drank coffee.
Nice job, Steve. Love the characters, plus the format makes for fun speculation as to the furure.