By way of introduction, I am Raymond Bolton, an aspiring, yet unpublished author living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’ve written some poetry, for which I’ve received some recognition, and three novels, one of which Kate Austin has read. As a result, she invited me to participate in this blog. I consider it high praise and I hope I can add a thing or two worth your time. Hopefully, I’ll have a few things to say about my writing life, as well as a poem or two.
My first two novels were explorations in fantasy: the first, an epic, the second, an adventure. I finished my most recent novel, The Messenger, a thriller, in January. After setting it aside for two months, I returned to it with fresher eyes for the first revision. That completed, I will set it aside for another two or three before giving it a final look and setting it loose upon the world. I intend to work on a sequel, but that will require some research. So, aside from the occasional poem that percolates to the surface, I’m on a brief hiatus.
I am often asked where the stories originate. The process is something that puzzles me as well and I’m fond of saying they tell themselves to me. That’s not far from the truth. While the creative process is largely the work of the subconscious and cannot be quantified, I can describe some of the ingredients that go into the pot, though I can’t say how they turn into stew.
I am of the persuasion life is too short to squander. I enjoy fine food, so I have learned to cook. I am endlessly curious about the world around me, so I read and I travel. I like people—who else is there?—so I talk and listen and try to understand what I hear. Over the years I’ve driven trucks, been an FM disk jockey, produced concerts, served as a mainsail trimmer on racing yachts, piloted gliders, written software, worked as a hair stylist and owned and operated my own business—all with varying degrees of success, but all have imparted a wealth of experience and taught great lessons. In the course of these doings I have had the privilege of meeting very accomplished individuals in the areas of music, movies, sports, technology, industry, finance and politics. Ultimately, all of this background comes together, struggles to find coherence and emerge.
Lisa Lenard-Cook discusses this synthesis of experiences into story in her book, The Mind of Your Story. For both Lisa and I, one idea will not drive a plot. She suggests that at least three, disparate, compelling ideas must come together before something can congeal. In the example she gives, the first seed for one such tale involved her learning about two similar women who had developed Alzheimer’s disease and noticing the parallels in their lives. The second came while watching planes dropping slurry onto the fires occurring near her home during a drought. When she read about wild horses starving on government land, that was the necessary final element. The three converged in “Wild Horses,” her account of a rancher whose wife develops Alzheimer’s.
Similarly, my thriller, The Messenger, is the result of several forces—the television industry, American politics, terrorism at home and the mujahidin in Eastern Afghanistan, to which I have added a generous dollop of the supernatural—uniting into something a single idea could not generate. While I cannot explain how my subconscious sews these elements into a cohesive fabric, this should give a sense of the quilt’s complexity.