A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Andrew Hessel's newest book, The Do-Over. If you missed it, you can read it here. Today, it's my pleasure to present to you a guest posting by Andrew as he tells in his own words how The Do-Over came to be written.
The Do-Over is my fourth novel, written after completing a crime thriller trilogy in the Cups Drayton Series. I confess it came as quite a surprise, one of many reasons the book has special meaning for me.
With elements spilling across different genres, I won’t attempt to force it into one, instead calling The Do-Over a novel of hope, love and second chances; a crime thriller-love story with a dash of fantasy and a sprinkle of sci-fi. That’ll have to do.
Readers and fans have asked how this book came about, so here goes.
My wife, Lynne, encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone. As an artist, I liked how that felt. While I had ideas for three more Cups thrillers and dearly love those characters, the allure of sailing uncharted writing waters was irresistible.
Besides, writing novels isn’t baking cookies; the next book isn’t simply the next batch.
She asked what I thought readers really want. I took that to mean what do people most need, what might make a difference? The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that Hope was in preciously short supply, and that a little piercing of the gloom was something we could all use.
That times are tough for many of us is hardly breaking news, I know. Still, the reality is that so many of us are living lives that scarcely resemble what we might have dreamt or imagined not long ago. For the vast differences of our lives, loss is a rather mysterious common denominator.
There is no more life-changing event than loss and it comes cloaked in so many guises.
The loss of a spouse or a partner; the loss of a child or a dear friend; the loss of passion, or faith or dreams; and the loss of spirit and will, leaving us incapable of believing that we have the strength, or can summon the courage, to endure what we must and somehow find our way.
Trust me when I say that, as a writer, the notion that the loss of hope would be the central theme of my new novel was both inspiring and terrifying.
My novels all begin with the characters. Crazy as it may sound, as I meet them, and get to know them, the characters reveal the story.
Kimberly Ann “Kiki” Kinsler, the heroine of The Do-Over surely did. In fact, at the end, I’d come to know her so well I had no choice but to revisit and completely rewrite earlier passages. Such was the intimacy and feeling I had for her after really getting to know her.
A twenty-one year old college student, Kiki couldn’t have been a greater departure from Cups Drayton, my middle-aged, feet of clay, maverick FBI agent. I wasn’t sure where all this had come from, but I was having the time of my life and the story had taken on a life of its own.
As parents, whatever our age or the age of our children, we all harbor a hope for their future.
That our children will thrive and live happy, healthy, richer, easier, and fulfilling lives.
That they be spared the cruelly capricious and unjust pain life too often brings.
And for all their dreams to come true, whether ours did or not.
Of course, there are no guarantees nor can we protect them.
Kiki had lived a happy life before the tragedy that upended it. A bright young woman of good heart, eager for the future, filled with confidence and hope, albeit born of youth and innocence.
What befell her couldn’t have been more cruel, unfair or heartbreaking. Or changed her life more fundamentally.
I felt such a good person dealt such a horrific hand deserved a second chance, but there could be no celestial-snapping-of-the-fingers to make it so.
There would be big risks, steep costs and unfolding uncertainties and contradictions associated with it. Her path is full of surprises; many are life affirming but others are soul crushing.
Confronted with impossible, untenable choices, Kiki wrestles with her capacity – and her right – to make them, fearful of the consequences of changing the past to redefine her future.
And, incredibly, along the way discovering love that she never expected, a love that was meant to be but couldn’t be.
Readers tell me the story stays with them for a while after they’ve finished. A writer couldn’t ask for more than that. Please take a Free Test-Read, download the first seven chapters on my website and decide for yourself. Whatever your thoughts, I’d genuinely appreciate hearing them.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll write back.
I’m fiercely proud of the Cups Drayton crime thrillers. The characters are rich and complex, the stories they tell are extraordinary, and they appeal beyond the genre for the right reasons. I love them and plan on returning to them in the future.
For all that, The Do-Over will always occupy a special place in my heart, for the hope it offers, for what it says about the power of love, and for the second chance most of us only dream of.
All the best to all of you. May the pages turn and deprive you of sleep.
Portland , Oregon
The difficulties one encounters when coping with loss of which Andrew writes, obviously, rings true for me. I have spent almost two decades, first, working through my own grief and then helping others to deal with theirs. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, I invite you to please visit my website and bookstore for help on your journey.