A recent review by Carol Iaciofano in ARTery, the web site of WBUR radio Boston (http://artery.wbur.org/2013/06/17/george-harrar-reunion), said, “Reunion at Red Paint Bay” explores some weighty questions: How much can memories be trusted? How long a comet tail of consequences can one act spark?” I like that image of a comet speeding through the universe, leaving traces of itself behind. If we’re the comet, blazing heedlessly through other people’s lives, we can certainly be held responsible for the havoc we cause. But for how long? Is there a statute of limitations on responsibility, or does one thoughtless action bind us forever to the future lives of those we have affected?
Royal Young from Interview Magazine asked me about the secret that my main character, Simon, keeps hidden over 25 years, even from his wife. To me a secret is something that you purposely hide from people because you feel ashamed about it or you are afraid of the consequences of revealing it. But Simon says he has barely thought of the event that precipitates the action in the book or the girl involved. What seems like a secret to his wife isn’t to him because it never rose high enough in his consciousness for him to have to suppress it. Here’s the link to the interview:
One of the most popular types of fiction is the “true” or “based on” story. There’s the natural inclination on the part of the reader to give more weight to the plight of characters who supposedly, actually, really did go through the events described. Reunion at Red Paint Bay took shape in my imagination after a friend told me of receiving an anonymous letter in the mail inviting him to dinner at a restaurant as repayment for something he had done as a youngster. It turned out well for him–a kindness from 35 years before being repaid. But “repayment” can mean retribution or revenge, and that’s the story line I chose to follow. A comment from Jules Feiffer seems to apply: “Nothing in the book ever happened and everything in the book is true.”
It’s the official publication date of my novel today, which is exciting, but a long time in coming. Writing is one of those delayed gratification professions where it can be a year or more from the completion of the work till its incarnation in print. Then the reviews, the reader comments, the bookstore appearances come in a rush. Here’s the link to an interview where I get to step back and think about Reunion at Red Paint Bay in the context of my other novels and short stories: http://artsfuse.org/76163/fuse-interview-suspense-stories-with-a-twist-writer-george-harrar/
Over the holidays I had a number of people ask me what I’m working on and when I said I have a new novel coming out, the natural first question was “What’s it about?” For Reunion at Red Paint Bay I say it’s the story of a newspaper editor in Maine and his family who are engaged in a full-scale psychological battle with a stalker without even knowing it. Is it a mystery, a thriller, a suspense novel? Labels like this are tricky because they set up certain expectations in the reader’s mind. A standard mystery requires a crime, a prime suspect or two, a dogged detective and a definitive outcome. A thriller requires, well, thrills. A suspense novel has as its main goal keeping the reader on edge, worried about the fate of the main character. Reunion at Red Paint Bay has elements of each genre but is clearly not any of them. I’d prefer, in fact, that someone pick up my novel with no more preconception than that it is a good read.