Many of us manage to avoid contemplating mortality until middle age, when friends and relatives start to check out with alarming regularity. Then we scramble to formulate a way to think about death that enlivens, or at least informs, our continued existence. Hence, MORTAL WEATHER. It's a novel of ideas with a dash of magical realism and a liberal helping of adventure-romance.
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MORTAL WEATHER: Contemporary fiction. Upmarket literary w/ magical realism. 100,000 words.
Stanhope Ellis is a window washer who is not a voyeur, but a listener. Discreetly absorbing stories makes life bearable for Stan, until he learns that new acquaintances are dying after talking to him. As he struggles with whether he's Mister Death or a cosmic witness, he meets a wise nurse, Gayathri Das, who helps him navigate the emotional minefield. But will she die, like the others?
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An early draft was a semifinalist in the University of New Orleans Press Lab competition. Several professional editors have evaluated the manuscript:
MW is expressive, written "with real energy and imagination.” In an industry clogged with unfinished material, it stands out as "effective and well-executed." It "satisfies on many levels.” It is "a tightly plotted and carefully calibrated novel that follows a clear arc." Most important, however, it is a timely, inspiring gift: "In an abjectly miserable year, it was a genuine pleasure to immerse myself in the world of your novel and feel a little hope again."
MW touches on spirituality, but is more comparable to Somerset Maugham’s earthy THE RAZOR’S EDGE than Paul Coelho’s nebulous THE ALCHEMIST. Hindu mythology is a touchstone. Spirituality in fiction gives many pause -- including me. Yet, if the proper balance is struck, the end result is an unforgettable read. At a writer’s conference, a bestselling author said MW could well "strike a nerve and make $25 million.” The story's spiritual aspects are handled "in a surprising, light, and contemporary way."
MW is full of humor and romance and animals. Though the tone is irreverent, the story falls distinctly on the YOU’VE GOT MAIL end of the cultural divide. It's a bit old-fashioned in that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The humor "may appeal to readers of David Sedaris and Gail Honeyman." Descriptors: Dangerous Protector, Adventure Romance, Stories Within Stories, Zeitgeist, Book Club, Upmarket
Originality requires a high degree of polish — in this case, hundreds of drafts since March, 2019. Gayathri’s voice now comprises approximately twenty percent of the storytelling — particularly significant since she first appears a third of the way along. Readers attest that MORTAL WEATHER draws them in reliably, regardless of entry point. I hope you will examine the novel in that way — dipping in randomly, as a browser at a bookshop might.
The cast of characters is diverse but the story is not about diversity. It's about humanity. My wife and I have been traveling since June, 2019, and all along the way — across Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand — I have not hesitated, when asked, to describe MORTAL WEATHER. Without exception, listeners respond with real excitement.
A second, similar novel, TANGERINE STARWARD, is in progress. Two others will follow. Three additional books may be assembled from other published work: COURAGEOUS PULLS THROUGH AND OTHER STORIES (six humor pieces); AS IF HOPE MATTERS AND OTHER ESSAYS (eleven literary essays); and LETTERS TO AMERICA (eight recent columns on American politics and culture, including those on my site, Locuto.com). In addition, I will self-publish ENOUGH SKY -- POEMS FOR THE PACK, VOLUME 1 (90+ poems).
Thank you for listening.