27 August 2008

Working Title: The Lobby

The first novel I would like to vet (see previous post on this topic here) is a political thriller and, for that reason, probably has the most commercial potential—and that in itself weighs heavily in favor of committing to its writing (for obvious reasons to anyone who is attempting to publish a first novel). It will likely be the easiest of the four to write as well, because I have done a fairly detailed outline.

Working title: The Lobby.

When Rick Frazier, freshly-minted, go-it-alone biotech mogul investigating the death of his estranged brother in a freakish wild fire, stumbles upon what appears to be a terrorist plot to destroy an American city, he must team up with a beautiful business journalist to uncover and confront the perpetrators, a powerful cabal of businessmen and politicians and their mercenary security unit.

As you can see, the plot of this potential novel follows a generic political thriller form: "The basic plot is an ordinary man pulling an innocent thread which leads to a mess of corruption." Rick's personal story confronts his own grief at the sudden death of his estranged brother—an ex-hippie-type, down at the heels, ne'er do well—to whom he is trying to reconnect by purchasing a large tract of wilderness where they camped as boys. He is motivated as well by his guilt at having abandoned his brother and the rest of his family and past associates in the first place on his way to a hugely successful entrepreneurial career. Rick is an American success story (in the Horatio Alger, up-from-the-bootstraps mode). He is a likable geeky sort who has made a phenomenal fortune at an early age. He is intense and focused, smart and outdoorsy though hardly athletic. He is somewhat shy and his social skills are only average. As the novel opens, he is pursuing several deals at once: 1) to cash out of his proprietary business; 2) to join an important social club for entrepreneurs; and 3) to purchase a tract of wilderness where he hopes to build a compound for himself and his brother and recapture some of the happiness of their youth. At the end of his search for an explanation of his brother's killing he uncovers a powerful conspiracy that, because of Rick's own wealth and status, may actually draw him in and corrupt him.

I believe if I set my mind to it I could knock a draft of this book out in a couple or three months. It is so different from EULOGY, my first novel (unpublished), I have half a mind to do it and market it under a nom de plume much like John Banville has done with his two recent genre pieces. The problem is I'm afraid I'll get bored or lose interest. EULOGY wound up being an intense exploration, both stylistically and psychologically. I allowed myself to slip the bonds of realism and explore some serious philosophical and even religious themes, as well as the nature of love. Even revisions proved to be arduous because of the absolute honesty they demanded. THE LOBBY, I'm afraid, won't allow me such leeway. It feels more mercenary, less artistic.

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