My new novel, The Paraclete, was officially published on February 19, 2019, and launched the following Monday evening with a reading, discussion, and book-signing at Asheville's venerable independent bookstore, Malaprop's. More than fifty of my best friends turned out for the event. My only regret was the shortage of time for individual conversations.
I wonder what everybody thought about my presentation. I began by reading a passage, not from The Paraclete, but from the beginning of my new work in progress. The excerpt seemed to me a good description of the fear and paranoia I (and evidently other writers) experience upon releasing the results of their months and years of wrenching words out of their guts, a.k.a. writing a piece of fiction. That snippet reminded me of a note I'd written back in 2011 upon completion of the first draft of The Paraclete, so I shared that, too:
"The process of telling this story has been like the healing of contusions and abrasions on the little body of the spiritual homunculus in my brain. The various episodes in the story have been crafted in the way scab material extends over broken flesh, sometimes forming rather odd-shaped scars. I've had no agenda in writing this book. I don't have a message I'm trying to convey. However, in telling the story, and looking at every aspect of the story and asking myself, Is this the truth? I do believe there is, in the end, a mystery solved, and that exploring a mystery, when it is simply the unanswered question of any individual's particular meaning, is in itself acceptable labor for an artist. A solution to such a mystery is relevant, and the quest for it worthwhile."
And yes, I did read a couple of short excerpts from the novel, too. I figured
that was okay since nobody there had yet had a chance to read the thing.
Since then, I've heard from a few readers who dived right into the book. I'm happy to say the responses have been positive. Some direct quotes from their emails will surely show up in future promo material.
At the end of March I'll be in my hometown, Brownwood, Texas, where my dear friend from high school, Raul Garcia, has scheduled a book-signing event for me at the Art Association's beautiful downtown gallery. Raul assures me I'll see many of my old friends there. I'm excited, a bit terrified, and above all, feeling validated and encouraged.