The following is a letter I sent to three professors from the University of Texas, the first readers of my crime fiction novel, 'Fury & Redemption,' which I finally finished in December of 2003:
Greetings from Northampton, MA:
I hope that this letter finds you all well. I'm writing to update you on the status of my crime fiction novel, 'Fury & Redemption.' Over the course of the last four months I've made great progress toward the third draft, and simultaneously, I've come up with a whole bunch more of ideas that I'd like to apply to this draft in a final six-week sweep of the material before I show it.
...It's kind of like the hallway sequence in Poltergeist--no matter how hard you run the end keeps moving away...
F&R will be constructed as a trilogy--it will consist of three books, each of about 200 pages. The story possesses a tragic arc: The Book of Promise, The Book of Skulls, The Book of Tears, (the set-up, gangster power, renunciation of crime), and it will be an introduction to a secondary world that I'm creating for future use, with its own maps, history, etc.
I'm asking that you read the book primarily as a person who enjoys stories. I would love to know first and foremost whether or not you liked it, (I think you will); what you liked and did not like; what worked and did not work. Please be very honest--and don't hold back. I want to see the material as I cannot because I've lived with it and worked on it for so long. This summer into this fall will be the time for final changes.
My ultimate goal is to create a popular narrative. It's written to be a cool story, to be enjoyed, but, as you will find, I've weaved some more sophisticated ideas into the writing, (particularly with regard to social history), not to deaden, but rather to heighten and elevate its affective force.
I plan to preview the book with about 7 people total, (the other 3-4 are in their early to mid-twenties, for balance of opinion). Your insights, criticisms, or praises will be valued highly and considered very carefully.