Author Guest Post
Why Writing a Novel Sometimes Feels Like Deer Hunting in Vermont
In my latest novel The Silent Girls, private investigator Frank Rath hunts deer in the mountains of Vermont. I gave Rath this pastime because it is a challenging and sometimes maddening pursuit that requires the same tenacity, obsession, eye for detail, and optimism needed by a private investigator to solve a case.
Notably, similar traits are needed to write a novel.
Much like Rath, I hunt deer in the mountains of Vermont, where just 10% of hunters are successful each year. That means 90% of deer hunters never reach their goal of harvesting a buck and filling their freezer with tasty venison.
My wife knows firsthand the meager odds of success for Vermont deer hunters. Often, I’ll hunt from dawn to dusk, days on end. Far more often than not, I return home from the woods without success, cold, hungry, and exhausted; yet inspired and enthusiastic to get after it again the next day. My wife must wonder if I’m taking naps or have a hidden stash of craft beer in the woods, if I’m a lousy hunter, or, perhaps, just a sucker for punishment. Who could blame her? From the outside, with the odds of success so slim, deer hunting in Vermont is madness, and may involve more than a slight touch of masochism. Why else would I leave a warm bed and my toasty wife at 4 a.m. on a dark, November morning with the wind howling and the temperature hovering at 28° for a mere 10% chance of bagging a big buck?
The simple answer is: I love it. I love the process and the pursuit. I love tracking a deer in the remote woods, going where the deer takes me, climbing steep ridges, hiking rugged terrain into vast swamps where it is easy to get lost even with a compass, and sneaking along the edges of hemlock woods where the sun rarely reaches and the landscape always seems caught in perpetual dusk. I love hunting regions I’ve never explored before and discovering new deer habitat in remote areas. I love knowing what I am doing is not easy, and if I do reach my goal, the satisfaction will match my effort. Eventually.
These are exactly the same reasons why I love writing novels. Being a novelist is a difficult pursuit that often leaves me exhausted at the end of the day, but always inspired and enthusiastic to get after it the next day. It leads me to places I did not expect to arrive, regions where I get lost, with the goal always seemingly out of reach. I hunt down words and follow clues and signs, much like when I deer hunt, or when a private investigator investigates a crime; doggedly determined to arrive at the final goal of a finished novel.
People interested in writing novels or who have started a novel but doubt their ability to finish it often ask me how to reach the end. How does one keep positive when lost in the metaphorical forest of words with no ending in sight? My answer is always the same: be persistent and tenacious, embrace the challenge and the discovery, track down the words and be patient. It may seem a bit maddening at times, and futile, but if you love it enough you will see each day as a fresh start and a new chance to be optimistic about your goal. And if you find yourself exhausted, you can always take a break and enjoy a good nap to refresh yourself. There are times I’ve been in the woods deer hunting and — only in the spirit of getting refreshed mind you — I’ve taken a siesta under a big oak tree. Don’t tell my wife that though.
About The Author
Eric Rickstad’s taut, chilling literary crime novels strip back the bucolic veneer of rural America and root around in its tragic underbelly. His first novel Reap was a New York Times Noteworthy Book first published by Viking Penguin. His novel The Silent Girls, from HarperCollins, was published October 28, 2014. His short stories and articles have appeared in many magazines and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He holds an MFA from the University of Virginia where he was a Hoyns Fellow and a Corse Fellow. He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter, and is represented by Philip Spitzer of the Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency.
The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad
Publisher: HarperCollins / Witness Impulse
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
Format: eBook - 365 pages
Kindle - 944 KB
Nook - 825 KB
Genre: Crime / Horror / Mystery / Suspense / Psychological Thriller
BUY THE BOOK: The Silent Girls
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
Frank Rath thought he was done with murder when he turned in his detective's badge to become a private investigator and raise a daughter alone. Then the police in his remote rural community of Canaan find an '89 Monte Carlo abandoned by the side of the road, and the beautiful teenage girl who owned the car seems to have disappeared without a trace.
Soon Rath's investigation brings him face-to-face with the darkest abominations of the human soul.
With the consequences of his violent and painful past plaguing him, and young women with secrets vanishing one by one, he discovers once again that even in the smallest towns on the map, evil lurks everywhere—and no one is safe.
Morally complex, seething with wickedness and mystery, and rich in gritty atmosphere and electrifying plot turns, The Silent Girls marks the return of critically acclaimed author Eric Rickstad. Readers of Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbø, and Greg Iles will love this book and find themselves breathless at the incendiary, ambitious, and unforgettable story.
My Book Review:
The Silent Girls is a riveting dark psychological thriller that follows private investigator Frank Rath's investigation into a string of mysterious disappearances of teenage girls during the dead of winter in the rural town of Canaan, Vermont.
Author Eric Rickstad weaves an intense tale of horror, mystery, and suspense, with intriguing twists and turns that easily captivates the reader's attention from the beginning to the story's dramatic conclusion. The story centers around private investigator Frank Rath who is called upon to assist the rural town of Canaan, Vermont's police department in the investigation of the mysterious disappearances of several teenage girls. The investigation hits home for Frank, as demons from his past come back to haunt him: when he was a police detective his sister and brother-in-law were murdered by a sadistic killer known as "The Preacher," leaving his niece Rachel an orphan. Frank turned in his detective badge and became a private investigator in order to raise Rachel as his daughter. Fast forward to the present, Rachel is in college and "The Preacher" is up for parole, leading Frank to have to deal with his darkest fears once again. Is there a connection between the disappearance of the teenage girls to "The Preacher?" Even in small friendly rural towns evil and danger lurk ...
The Silent Girls is a gripping dark psychological thriller that kept me sitting on the edge of my seat guessing what would happen next as Frank is drawn into the investigation of the disappearances of the missing girls while dealing with his personal demons. The author does a great job of slowly building a suspenseful and complex tale that has surprising and dramatic twists and turns; a fascinating cast of characters; and a rich description of the setting that easily transports the reader to the small rural Vermont town during the heart of the dark winter season, it's enough to send chills down your back.
The Silent Girls is a riveting and gritty storyline that delves into Frank's painful past; the connection between the mystery of the missing girls; the dynamics of a radical cult; and the touchy social issue of abortion. This is a story that takes the reader on a fascinating thrill ride while keeping them engaged and turning the pages. If you are a fan of dark crime mysteries, suspense, and psychological thrillers, then The Silent Girls is a must read!
RATING: 4 STARS
Win A Copy Of The Silent Girls
Virtual Book Tour
10/27/14: Showcase @ The Pen and Muse Book Reviews
10/30/14: Guest Post @ Writers and Authors
11/04/14: Interview, Showcase @ Deal Sharing Aunt
11/04/14: Showcase @ Mommabears Book Blog
11/06/14: Interview @ CMash Reads
11/08/14: Guest Post @ Omnimystery News
11/13/14: Showcase @ Melanies Muse
11/14/14: Review, Guest Post @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
11/19/14: Review @ fuonlyknew
11/20/14: Review @ Celticladys Reviews
11/21/14: Review @ From the TBR Pile
11/25/14: Showcase @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews