Monday, 18 February 2008


     Since I've been lurking around the edges of this blog for the last several weeks, and even once posted a comment, it seems a proper introduction is order. 

     I'm Doug Worgul. My novel, Thin Blue Smoke, is scheduled to be published in February 2009. I'm an American, living in Kansas City — smack dab in the middle of the continental United States. The Kansas City metro area is bisected by the boundary between the states of Kansas and Missouri. The suburb I live in is on the Kansas side. I was born and raised in Michigan. On the U.S map, Michigan is the mitten-shaped peninsula surrounded by the Great Lakes, in the north.   

     I'm very happily married to Rebecca Sesler and I'm blessed with four lovely daughters. 

     I'm 54 years old. A few weeks ago I read a review of a first novel in the New York Times Book Review, in which the reviewer noted that the novel's author was 38 years old, which the reviewer said was "a little old for a for a first time novelist." Damn. I was feeling quite ancient until I visited each of the personal Web sites of the other MNW authors. Now I feel a lot better and a lot younger.  

     Writing Thin Blue Smoke fundamentally altered my understanding of myself. Even if it had never been published, its purpose in my life would have been fulfilled. When the book was accepted by MNW, my life changed yet again.  Now I have a sense of calling. I may never make a living as a novelist, but making novels will be the way the way I now live. 

     Thin Blue Smoke does not fit neatly in any established genre. It's about love & loss, despair & hope, squandered opportunities & second chances, fathers & sons, Black & white, barbecue & the blues, God & whiskey, forgiveness & redemption. 

     I'm working on a second book, but sometimes I have a sick feeling in my gut that there was only the one in me.  

     I'm honored to be a member of this group. And I look forward to reading all your books. Whose should I start with?



Len Tyler said...

Great to hear from you! Let me add my congratulations to Matt's and Aliya's a couple of days ago. I look forward to reading your book.

I'll be interested to see how others reply to your your final question! Let me disinterestedly suggest you read us in the order we reply to your post ...

As for the age question, I guess you're as old as the books you write - that's what I tell myself anyway.

I think we all worry about the second book (and third, once the second is accepted, and then probably the fourth, for all I know). Reading your post makes me realise how helpful it is to be able to meet up with other MNW writers and compare notes and neuroses - something that is more difficult if you live in the US or India (say). Hence the usefulness of this blog - thanks again to Matt for setting it up. David has been a great contributor to the blog from your side of the Atlantic. Hope to hear regularly from you too.

Tim Stretton said...

Welcome, Doug. It's a relief not to be the newbie any more (my novel is coming out in July - I'm not sure what's filling the gap between then and February).

I can magnanimously defer to other MNWers in saying 'don't read mine first', a generosity in no way undercut by the fact that it isn't published yet.

I've read a dozen or so of the MNW titles; some I enjoyed more than others, but they're all rewarding in their own way, so I'd say pick one from the genre you most enjoy reading. I started with Brian McGilloway's 'Borderlands' and had no reason to regret it.

I think 'next book neurosis' is part of the writer's life. You have a novel accepted for publication and you think you've made it. Then pretty soon after, comes 'was that a fluke? can I do it again?'. If we were all perfectly adjusted devil-may-care types I doubt we'd be writers in any event!

Aliya Whiteley said...

Hi again, Doug! Thin Blue Smoke sounds very interesting. I'm looking forward to it.

Faye L. said...

Hi Doug - welcome, congratulations and all the best with your book!

Len - this cracked me up:
As for the age question, I guess you're as old as the books you write - that's what I tell myself anyway.
I feel very lively for 150+...

David Isaak said...

Hello (and welcome fellow Yank).

Although there are a few writers at MNW who wrote their books quite young--and some genuine enfants terribles, like the formidable Faye L. Booth, who completed her (superb) novel by staying in and writing rather than joining the other kids at recess--a fair number of us are in your age range. And some are quite a bit older.

I know that reviewers in the US are obsessed with the whole concept of youthful genuis--especially if it can go down in flames, ala Scotty Fitzgerald. But in terms of quality I don't think it makes much difference. I've found I can be immature and even sophomoric at any age.

I'm not sure there's such a thing as a one-book writer. I think there are writers who produce a book whose public success is so great it makes them too nervous to ever publish again--Harper Lee, Ross Lockridge Jr., and Thomas Heggen probably fall into that category (and the latter two killed themselves rather than write the second book). But I think it can sometimes be hard to get rolling again when your previous novel is still echoing in your head. So I usually find some way to knock it on out of there (cf. immature behavior, above).

As to what order to read in: On this side of the pond, a lot of it depends on the order in which the books arrive!

Faye L. Booth said...

Pardon me while I use an old biro casing to spit inky bits of paper at Mr Isaak...

Doug Worgul said...

Thank you all for your gracious welcome, and for your encouragement regarding the second book.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Sophie Portas asking for a bunch of info to help her publicize Thin Blue Smoke. Each time I see an e-mail from MNW in my inbox it makes the whole thing that much more real. Way cool.


Brian said...

Doug! E-mail me, please. I don't seem to have a valid e-mail for you anymore.