Updated: Mar 1, 2020
I'm decompressing in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico from a 4,200 km. drive from Ottawa, mi perro, Dallas, riding shotgun.
A great road trip, other than the 75-mph speed limit in Texas' "miles and miles of miles" of highways where 372 people have died already on those roads in 2020. Texans, it's only February! Their motto is "Drive friendly, like Texans!" Okay! Indeed, a great road trip other than also being doused with gasoline by a leaky gas hose in Arkansas. And, oh yes, the epic GPS-fail that sent me off the safer "cuotas" toll highways into the centro of Monterrey, Mexico, a bustling metropolis of 1.5 million people on the move by car or foot everywhere. After that, I knew I would survive anything!
A rousing Bernie Sanders rally in Austin, TX. redeemed all madness. (short video here)
I am now in this gorgeous UNESCO site city in the Sierra Madre mountains to write my next two books. No oceans nor beaches. A musical chorus of church bells, tropical birds, fireworks, dogs and fiestas to serenade my writing! I will harness Hemingway at a neighbourhood Mojito bar.
On tour for Soar, Adam, Soar and now, here, people ask me, "What is your next book?"
My usual reply is that I am working on the next eight or nine books. True! My age has me urgently in the fast lane for writing. Some books are on the tarmac for take off. A few in embryo. Some are still being researched. And the characters for three final works of fiction are all dancing in my imagination, being born, haunted or killed off! Fiction both excites and terrifies me.
I had expected that my memoir on my Dad's WW2 war story that already has shifted to Dad's and Mom's love story immersed in London's (Ontario) and Canada's war experience would be my next book. Dick Prashaw was a D-Day Dodger in the Italy Campaign and then part of our country's glorious Netherlands Liberation; Lady Astor had joked that the Canadians in Italy were D-Day Dodgers. In fact, they were in the war two years before those other boots landed on Normandy beaches. To Lady Astor's poor joke, the lads composed a ribald song to the tune of Lili Marlene that will be in my book. That memoir snares most of my energy these days. Gert Beaton's stories will fill out London's home side war years: stuffing mickeys of rye inside French baguettes to ship to her guy; taking off her engagement ring to lure a boy to play tennis, and then, alas, forgetting to put the ring back on for a photo mailed to Dick; and her turn to be angry as Dick asks her to round up nylons for the Dutch women he's billeted at after the war ended.
That WW2 memoir will be creative non-fiction as I jump into a character in the story.
However, a publisher expressed more interest for now in my faith memoir that I am calling,
Father Rick, Roamin' Catholic. This will be stories of faith on my crooked, straight path to heaven's gate. Like Adam's memoir, there will be a fair shake of humour, irreverence and mostly true tales. However, as I surprise myself to still be standing, a faith intact but very changed, I also will write on this enduring love story, God and I, lived in community, a God much bigger, wider and deeper now than my primarily Roman Catholic days, as good as that often was. Beyond the humour, there are serious and sobering essays to include on the RC Church and women, the RC Church and the Pride community, the RC Church and Indigenous Peoples and the RC Church and clergy sex abuse. I side with the RC Church on zero of those subjects!
And, judging from this long ago picture of "Ricky" celebrating Mass with a upside down, trash can tabernacle and the Lone Ranger in the congregation, maybe I was cut out for minister long before I realized it.
So my writing plan for San Miguel is to complete my manuscript on the faith memoir, continue research on the war memoir and also, on the side, dabble in a first play effort inspired on Adam's story I told in Soar, Adam, Soar. Already I am imagining "like 2-spirit" Adam and Rebecca characters, a trans choir of Adam's friends, a news anchor desk on the side periodically updating progress and setbacks on trans human rights and an organ recipient guy who lurks in the shadows. There's scenes from heaven too taking in Adam's ride of a lifetime. This play actually would be my second play. At the NGO I worked at (The Church Council on Justice and Corrections), I wrote Conversations at the Well, a three-act play (May 2000). That play featured a conversation on justice between a "right-wing, hang-em-high fanatic" and a "left-wing, bleeding-heart liberal" as they discover not only some common ground between them but "God's living water".
How many books is that? The war, faith memoirs and play add up to four counting Adam's book. Then, I want to publish a collection of short stories, many already written for contests.One of those stories is Father Joe, a priest with a secret, a priest who author Michelle Winters, a contest judge, dubbed "one of the most compelling, sympathetic, palpable characters I've read in a long time." His secret is not the one most these days might guess. Father Joe has had a serious falling out with his God.
That's Book 5!. Given Winters' praise and my affection for Father Joe, I am sensing another book all on his flight from God with its hilarious and holy detours. Book 6!
Then, the terror of writing fiction --- characters, dialogue, plot. My three works of fiction go like this: one, a priest, journalist and woman whose triangle love story explodes at a restorative justice circle for the woman's daughter; the second work of fiction a 'down and out journalist' who with a wife in the asylum and his boy whom he adores abducted finds himself accused of the crime, a path to freedom shown him by a heavenly visitor who knows what actually happened because he committed the crime; and a priest in 2020 who has fallen in love with a woman and in that crisis of faith and meeting an energy healer discovers he was a priest in the 16th century. He returns there to reunite with a male lover, an Inquisition and real threats of his burning at the stake as he faithfully serves a peasant people.
Books 7, 8 and 9.
Is there one that interests you?
Who knows t6he real life order of these books given I already flipped the war memoir for two more time urgent books (Adam's and the faith memoir). Publishers and self publication will influence the timeline.
Enough! I need to stop writing about writing and to write in San Miguel those next two books! Hasta la vista y muchos gracias!