How Uncle Huey Got Religion
I just released my first novel, How Uncle Huey Got Religion.
OH! This isn't very Stephen Kingish. Gripe if you want. Really love griping. Yes! You should! Someone should post, "What's this have to do with Stephen King?" It makes my day when we get to complain.
Someone contacted me in early August to ask where I had gone. Was Talk Stephen King still on my radar? Yep. Where I went -- I was finishing my novel and then doing the intense back and forth with the editor.
Some personal notes about Huey:
I've been writing How Uncle Huey Got Religion since I was in college. I think I've written the book at least 3-4 times, start to finish. And it changed a lot. When I started writing this time, I knew it had the flow I wanted. And, I certainly knew where I was driving the thing.
I'm actually a pretty fast writer. I have a box full of novels I've written. So why Huey? It seems this was the story I felt I needed to tell, even when it was more difficult for me. Huey was a tough nut because it's historical fiction. Writing about life in North Carolina, 1938 was more challenging than writing up a horror story set in. . . hell.
By the way, yes I did write a story about a guy racing through hell, diving down bottomless pits and avoiding pits of fire. But, my wife convinced me to stick with Huey. I think she was concerned that I would arrive on judgment day and God would hold up my book on hell and go, "Not funny." I told her I would write under another name. She just gave me this look -- stick with Huey. I'm glad I did.
I'm much more drawn to dark stories. The story about the house that burns down -- and then is back the next day, but burned and blackened. The story about the ordinary guy who wakes up strapped in the electric chair. . . . my loved ones think I'm messed up. I think some of us are helped by exploring the darkness, following through on an idea.
So Huey was not an easy thing for me to write. I stuck with it, and decided to go ahead and put down money to have it edited. And that was an issue. I was not thrilled with the number of mistakes I found in previous self published books. I was paying an editor real money, and the work came back nice and clean. But friends would point out big mistakes. I felt like I was caught going to school in my undies.
A good friend of mine, a man who helped me go through college, read one of my books. He would send me corrections by email. When he learned I was writing Huey, he let me know he was ready to help. Turns out, editing was his job. (I didn't know that.) Here's what I learned: The editing process is very intense. I thought writing was hard and editing fun. That's true. But editing is also tough stuff. You have to argue and discuss and think through all kinds of things.
I wrote Mr. Editor one day, "Does the novel work?"
"Does it work?" tough Mr. Editor asked.
"You know, the engine that drives this thing. The story itself. Does it work?"
"I don't know. I'm looking at spelling right now."
A week later. "Hey, I read the whole thing over. To answer your question, yes, it works."
Sweat swept from my brow.
How people talk:
I had a lot of fun writing dialogue -- mostly. I would watch movies from the thirties, just to get an idea of words they used. I youtubed 1930s North Carolina, to hear people from that era. Also to note how they dressed.
What was difficult: racism. Race plays an important role in the book as Huey's church defies some cultural norms of the day.
Stephen King advises a writer to play it straight, even if its costly. yeah, your mom is gonna read it, but we have to stay true to the characters, King argues. I think he's right, or his audience. He can have cussing and racism and people accept that. But i wasn't comfortable with that. My own hangup? Maybe. Probably. It meant I cleaned up some of what the KKK group in the book said. I knew how they would really say it, but I wrote around that.
I asked a friend of mine from the region to give me every bad name for blacks he knew. I only knew one, the N word. Oh man! He came back with a list and gave it to me in person. I did use some of them, just to convey racism -- but by no means all. As I stuffed his list into my pocket, my friend said, "Do me a favor, don't get hit by a car with all those words stuffed in your pocket. They'll think you're some kind of right wing racist." I pointed out it was his handwriting.
Stephen King rules I did not follow: I did not follow King's "door closed" and "door open" rule while writing. I brought my wife along on the process. In fact, a lot of people went with me on the journey, because there was so much to verify and learn.
Rule I did follow: I printed the whole thing up, tried to read as fast as I could, and cut about 30k words out of the story.
I am sure you are now aching to read by novel. You've been waiting for that link. Go ahead, buy lots, I've got four girls to send to college. (and buy my Stpehen King book while you're at it.)
0.00 Kindle Unlimited.