The Book Diva’s Reads is very pleased to host a visit from Lou Berney, author of The Long and Faraway Gone. Mr. Berney will share some thoughts on finding the right way to write the story.
When I sat down to start writing my third novel, The Long and Faraway Gone, I felt pretty confident. I’d already written two novels, after all, and I hadn’t died during the process. But then, a couple of weeks into my new book, I felt like I was going to die. I realized I had no idea what I was doing.
My first two novels, you see, were fast, twisty crime capers in the vein of Elmore Leonard. The Long and Faraway Gone, though, was very different. It was a mystery – three mysteries, to be exact – and I’d never written one of those before.
So what did I do? Exactly. I re-read (and re-re-read) all the writers I love who know what they’re doing when it comes to mystery. I started with Raymond Chandler and worked my way up to Laura Lippman, Kate Atkinson, and Tana French (among many others).
At some point, during that process, it clicked for me – that there’s a simple distinction between two different kinds of storytelling. In capers and thrillers and suspense, the question that keeps the reader turning the page is usually this: What happens next? When a mystery is central to the narrative, though, the question is very different. It’s: What already happened?
As a writer, looking ahead (What happens next?) has always come naturally to me. But if I had tried to write a mystery that way, it would have been a disaster. It had been a disaster so far. I understood now I had to go back, toss out all my old outlines, and start from scratch. I had to know how the novel ended before I could begin it. How would my private investigator know if a clue was important if I didn’t know it?
So that was the big – and simple – breakthrough I had with this novel. And, yes, it’s something I probably should have already known, having been a writer for twenty years: Every story is different, and you have to find the right way to tell it.
Lou Berney is the author of two previous novels—Whiplash River, nominated for an Edgar Award, and Gutshot Straight, nominated for a Barry Award-as well as the collection The Road to Bobby Joe and Other Stories. A television and film screenwriter, he also teaches writing at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University.
About the Book:
The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
ISBN: 9780062292438 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062292445 (ebook)
ASIN: B00FOPS3XW (Kindle version)
Publisher: William Morrow & Co.
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
With the compelling narrative tension and psychological complexity of the works of Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Kate Atkinson, and Michael Connelly, Edgar Award-nominee Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone is a smart, fiercely compassionate crime story that explores the mysteries of memory and the impact of violence on survivors—and the lengths they will go to find the painful truth of the events that scarred their lives.
In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.
Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.
Like Wyatt, Julianna struggles with the past—with the day her beautiful older sister Genevieve disappeared. When Julianna discovers that one of the original suspects has resurfaced, she’ll stop at nothing to find answers.
As fate brings these damaged souls together, their obsessive quests spark sexual currents neither can resist. But will their shared passion and obsession heal them, or push them closer to the edge? Even if they find the truth, will it help them understand what happened, that long and faraway gone summer? Will it set them free—or ultimately destroy them?
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