Fresh on the heels of my 15 minutes of fame after having published a peer-reviewed article in the The Mineralogical Record about the geology and mineralogy of an Indiana geode locality, I then got the foolhardy notion to write a full-fledged novel. It was January 8, 1991 and I was three years removed from grad school, working as a geologist for an environmental consulting company at a time when being published (as I was told) was required for advancement to certain more lofty levels and having just published something others found even remotely interesting was reason for some serious cred around the water cooler. Needless to say I didn’t have the slightest idea on how to start or what I was about to get myself into. I did, however, have the good sense to follow a colleague’s advice and write about something that I both knew and enjoyed.
That evening I had the apartment to myself and with a tablet of paper in hand and a Flyers game on the TV, I lounged on the couch and set my mind to thinking about what to write. Being a recent addition to the workforce, I still had a lot of stuff learned from my geology classes still swimming around in my head and I certainly did love every minute of my college experience (well, mostly), so I thought what better story could there be than an action thriller about a college student who schemes a way to appropriate an abandoned mine he finds on his school’s field camp property for his own personal gain? Field camp was a required field course for all geology majors and mine consisted of a month spent tramping about Colorado countryside in the shadow of Pikes Peak looking for rock formation contacts and making maps. With so many wonderful memories of that experience to draw from, I was certain that I could create a really cool story.
Now back to that I had no idea about how to start said thing mentioned above: I paid no heed to what I didn’t know, dove right in and started to write as the thoughts jumped into my head. I envisioned the main character a student and named him Garret Sutton after the first and last names of several acquaintances. I also decided it best to begin the story with a troubled youth to explain (or was it justify?) why he’d attempt such a foolhardy stunt. By the end of that first night I’d jotted down several pages of chicken scratches and Ghost Creek was born. Nearly two years and 738 printed pages later, I finished the first draft on December 4, 1992. It was a most exhilarating feeling—a real life moment complete. Along the way the manuscript would take many twists and turns—and continue to change during the typing and editing process, which took another couple of years to complete. Along the way characters were created as others drifted out of the story; some whose personalities took on a life of their own didn’t make it through to the end, while others lived on to fight another day; one hero was replaced by an entirely new character, and the tale took on an increasingly darker tone the deeper I descended along with Garret down his path of destruction at the hands of the Ghost Creek curse. All told it was a tremendous growing experience for me as well as the characters that can never be equaled because I was experiencing everything for the first time: all of the wonderment, the what ifs? The many I never saw that coming revelations. Somewhere down the road I’ll delve a little deeper into some of the changes that occurred along the way. But for the next post, how about a few excerpts from the book?
Until then, I hope you get to enjoy some fair springtime weather that’s finally here. Cheers!