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“I actually could not put the book down. It is well written and kept my interest. I want more from this author.”
Reader review of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead on Amazon.com 

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Still the Same Old Story

Here’s something good about my second book, The Three Towers of Afranor.

After my first book Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead came out, I was surprised that people kept asking me if the book was a true story. “Did all that really happen to you?” “Is that what you were really like as a teenager?” Or worse: “I never realized you had such an interesting background!” and “Wow! I will never think of you the same way again!”

I should not have been surprised. I was well aware that readers love to look for parallels in authors’ personal lives and their stories. I do it myself—especially if the author happens to be a well known public figure. We want to make every novel a roman à clef. It probably doesn’t help that writers actually do, quite reasonably, borrow from their own experiences or those they have observed. So turnabout was fair play when the speculation came my way.

The good news is that no one, absolutely no one has asked me if The Three Towers is a true story. Well, no one who has actually begun reading it or even flipped through a few pages. The joke, of course, is on them, as every single thing in the book really did happen. (Just kidding.)

Interestingly, even though it is still early days since the book was released into its natural habitat, no one has come back to me and said, “Hey, isn’t this the same book you wrote the first time?” Because it kind of is.

A lot of The Three Towers was written to amuse myself while I was still editing and polishing and correcting Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. And it did not escape me that the long-ago-conceived tale of the cursed kingdom of Afranor and its three towers was essentially a hero-and-quest story, not unlike the story of Dallas and Lonnie and their quixotic journey in search of the long missing Tommy Dowd. Since the Afranor story in its original high school Spanish version, even after being re-written and expanded, only stretched to a mere 46 pages, it was clear that I needed to beef it up a bit if I was going to get a whole book out of it. The old characters were fleshed out, some new characters were added, and the story took some new turns not foreseen in the original. Despite the fanciful setting and situations, I did want the characters to feel as real as possible, and so the themes of being young and insecure and passionate and male and having to confront dangerous situations in a foreign country all leaked from one book into the other.

I must have done a good enough job of making it seem like a different story, though, since no one yet has called me on it. On the other hand, didn’t someone once study all the books and movies and TV show plots ever produced and come to the conclusion that there were only about three or four basic stories anyway? So when it comes down to it, isn’t writing really only about making the same old stories seem fresh and new?

There is, however, one question I did often get about Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead that I am now getting about The Three Towers of Afranor. People want to know if there will be sequel. I can answer the question about both books with a single reply. Yes, if my brain and my fingers keep working long enough, there will be sequels to both books.

And the stories in those books will be completely new with plots that no one has ever thought of before. (Wink, wink.)

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