Of Boston and A Grandson

April 17th, 2013

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people of Boston, especially the victims of the bombings and their families. Watching from afar, I’m inspired by the courage and resilience with which Bostonians have responded to this tragedy. As Dennis Lehane put it in a stirring New York Times essay, the terrorists’ cowardly objective was thwarted the second that civilian bystanders, with no fear for their own safety, raced to help those injured in the first blast.

I hope we as a nation can take our cue from Boston and embrace dignity and courage in the face of evil rather than anger and hate. I hope especially because, in another week or so, our daughter Kaitlin and her husband Andy will bring a new person into this world, a boy named Sawyer Brooks Stoutenburgh. I want Sawyer to know from the first breath he breathes that this is not a world of fear and rage, but one of love, family, friendship, and faith in all of those beautiful, sustaining things. When Sawyer reads about the Boston Marathon tragedy in school one day, I hope he’ll understand that evil was defeated by a brave and faithful people. Fear and rage are death. Love and faith are life. I can’t wait to watch Sawyer live life!

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. Maybe I was just too overwhelmed by the response to the offer of a free Starvation Lake T-shirt. Anyway, here’s what’s going on in my world of writing, fiction and non-fiction:

The paperback version of THE SKELETON BOX comes out Tuesday, June 4. Still figuring out what I might do to celebrate (maybe a coupla beers), but I do have a few library events already set in Howell, Paw Paw, Grayling, Central Lake, and Beulah, Michigan. Look at the Events list to the right for details.

I know you’re all as shocked and crushed as I am that THE SKELETON BOX did not win a Pulitzer Prize. But it was named a Michigan Notable Book for 2012 by the Michigan State Library, for which I’m deeply honored and grateful. Alas, I can’t make the April 27 gala in Lansing because it’s right around the same time that we’re expecting Sawyer.

John Gray, director and screenwriter, has completed a screenplay of THE HANGING TREE, and our agents are shopping it to actors and financiers. Catch-22 is that actors often don’t wanna read a script that doesn’t have money committed, and money guys are reluctant to read unless a couple of actors are in. Fingers crossed. John did a great job on the script, changing it in significant ways so that the film could remain faithful to the spirit of the book. My only disappointment is that Soupy Campbell is not in the film. Maybe the next one.

My friends at Touchstone/Simon & Schuster offered me a contract to write two more Starvation Lake books. It was a generous offer, but after a lot of cogitation, I decided to turn it down. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I felt like I was done with that series–at least for now–and wanted to challenge myself. I’m lucky in that I have a day job that pays me well enough that I can afford to take a chance. Or at least I think I can.

I’m working on a new book, with the working title THE LAST OF DANNY, about the abduction of an autistic 15-year-old boy from a couple whose marriage is in trouble. The story will be set in a posh resort town on the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan and in Chicago. I’ve gone through a couple of different detailed plans for the story, and am now in a good writing groove. I’ve been writing six mornings a week and am having a lot of fun with it. But, boy, is it difficult. I can’t just reach for a handy scene at Enright’s or a flashback to the Detroit Times. My writer pals have been extremely supportive. I’m a free agent, publisher-wise, so it’s a little like starting all over.

More soon. Thanks for your infinite patience. Wish me luck with Danny!












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