January 04, 2006
Insomia Breeds Novel Thoughts By Mark LaFlamme | printable version
I can't sleep. I tell you people, I just can't sleep. I'm 38 years old and I don't remember a time when I wasn't afflicted with insomnia. And I don't remember a time when I didn't lull myself to sleep by rolling a sort of mental movie through my head, a storyline that overrides the noise of real world clamor in my head. For nearly four decades, I've been sinking into sleep with fictional characters running amok in my thoughts.
Last year, I decided to carry these nocturnal stories from my bed to the keyboard. By the end of the year, I had written two novels. The first of them was a downright blast to write. "Worumbo" was a story I'd been falling asleep with for a month. It's a tale of government experiments with mind control and a young news reporter with a blossoming psychic ability. It took two months to write and the final product was a fast paced thriller written on some cerebral autopilot.
Months later, I was at it again. Struggling for sleep one night, I lay in the dark and imagined a man walking down a very dark road, just a solitary figure walking into nothing with night sounds and a vague shadow of mountains around him.
In my head, a car rolled to a stop beside this unformed character. A window buzzed down and a voice spoke from within: "We understand you've been inside the house. We'd like to talk to you about that."
At the time, I'd been reading a lot about the science of string theory. That fascination meshed with my nightly waking dreams and a story was born. Over the next eight weeks, writing at least 2000 words a night, I pounded out The Pink Room, the story of a leading physicist who attempts to use the science of string theory to bring his daughter back from the dead.
The Pink Room is now on the market with BookLocker. I read Angela Hoy's free marketing tips and went a little crazy. I got press coverage. I lined up book signings. I ordered 5,000 custom bookmarks and shipped them to friends all over the country to be distributed to bookstores. Within three days of publication, more than 200 copies of the novel had been sold.
Writing is sheer joy. Marketing is a pain in the ass that's energizing and a thrill all its own. Today, I went to a local bookstore and was immediately ushered to a chair, like a rock star who has shown up late for a show. Before me were dozens of men and women lined up with copies of my book in their hands. This is it, I thought. I'm having a stroke and this is my dying delusion.
But it wasn't. It was my first book signing and it was a buzz. For two hours, I sat bantering with strangers and writing witty comments on my cover page. These were people earnestly interested in reading what I had written. This, I decided, is the ultimate reward for all the creating, selling and agonizing that goes into the production of a book.
I plan to publish "Worumbo" next year. Meanwhile, I'm a full-time crime reporter with an over-stimulated imagination. Lately, I've been lying awake at night thinking about a man who sees dead people every time he suffers alcohol withdrawal, another insomnia-fueled story I plan to have compiled in written form by spring.
Mark LaFlamme is an award winning crime reporter and columnist at the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine. His book, The Pink Room, is available at Booklocker.com or through special order at your favorite online or brick and mortar bookstore.