I can't believe it's been five years since the publication of my last novel, Hobo Jingo. Time has rocketed forward like one of those runaway freight trains featured in my King of the Hobos duology. To put it in perspective, since the publication of my last book in July 2017, I have seen the births of my twin grandchildren and the death of a brother-in-law. I've experienced many highs and a few lows on a circuitous path that took me away from fiction writing, and then brought me back again. The release of my forthcoming novel Cretaceous Stones in August completes the loop. I'm excited about the book and my reentry into the publishing arena.
When I finished writing Hobo Jingo on July 4, 2017, I was creatively tapped out. I had lost my literary mojo. My writerly groove was gone. My passion for the publishing biz was AWOL. Hence, I didn't do much promotion for Hobo Jingo, certainly nowhere near the marketing effort I put in for my previous books. I needed time away to recharge and to regain my passion for storytelling. And I did it in a big way. I built a recording studio in my basement and started laying down classic rock cover tunes, doing all the vocals and playing all the instruments. I recorded close to an album's worth of material, and though I'm no virtuoso musician, I was pleased with the results (click Music to hear some of those recordings).
And then COVID-19 hit, changing the world. Sometime early in the pandemic, I came to the realization that playing music is more of a social thing for me. I was accustomed to playing with other musicians, finding joy in the camaraderie and collaboration. My solo recording sessions were feeling increasingly lonely by the day. The solo, one-man-band thing just wasn't cutting it for me anymore. I wanted, needed, to play music with other musicians. However, due to the pandemic and other factors, playing in a band just wasn't possible. Around that same time, an old story idea started running through my head, returning like a long-lost friend . . . persistent, demanding . . . challenging me . . . daring me to write it.
And so I left the recording studio behind and returned to the keyboard to begin work on Cretaceous Stones, my twisted tale of the return of dinosaurs to Earth. At first it was overwhelming, as this would be my biggest canvas story yet with a sprawling plot and a large cast of point-of-view characters. Not to mention the huge challenge of convincing readers that such an outlandish plot could actually happen. Could I do it? Ultimately, I believe I pulled it off. I think it is my most inventive story and wildest adventure to date, but I will leave the final verdict up to you, Valued Reader. As a side note, I like the main core of characters so much, I don't want to leave them behind, so I have eagerly begun work on the sequel. The story arc I have in mind calls for a trilogy; God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll get the trilogy written. The three-book series will be called The Cretaceous Chronicles.
It feels so good to be back!
Jeff Dennis, June 29, 2022