Count Backward from 100...
This is my bloodless mystery novel. No murder.
I wrote the book in two weeks. Eyelids is the result of a little writing exercise I set for myself. I simply wanted to see how fast I could pound one out -- forget subplots, forget other interests, forget everything that gives a book its own distinctive texture. Just tell the story.
So I thought up the bare bones of a plot, did about fifteen minutes' worth of research, and went at it. I worked into the story just about anything that happened to pass through my head during that two-week period -- baseball, Aeschylus, cholesterol, etc. The bare bones of the plot acquired flesh.
I'd vaguely had it in mind to turn my writing exercise into a "real" novel, if the results warranted it. But I was surprised to find I was rather pleased with the story the way it was. The three main characters were consistent and credible...and likable. The plot was just offbeat enough to hold interest. And while feelings run high a couple of places in the story, the book had an overall amiable tone that would be lost if I added a murder or other grim stuff.
Murders would be add-ons anyway, rather than arising naturally out of the plot, and that would give the book a patchwork quality. So I decided to keep it cozy. I went through the manuscript and did my usual final polishing -- tweaked a little here, cut a little there -- and Doubleday published the book without a whimper.
The story concerns a rising young executive named Megan Phillips who awakes one morning on the fourteenth green of a Pittsburgh golf course. She has no idea how she got there, nor does she have any memory of the last 38 hours. Worried about her blackout, she consults a most unusual psychiatrist who determines that Megan had been hypnotized.
A neighbor is present when Megan receives a phone call reinforcing a posthypnotic suggestion -- which Megan herself is unaware of. It looks as if she has been programmed to do something...but what? Megan, her neighbor, and the psychiatrist decide that the only way to solve the puzzle is to find the hypnotist. And the hunt is on.
I'm finished with writing two-week books, now that I know I can do it. My usual time spent on a mystery novel is ten months. But I'm pleased with the results of my writing experiment. Eyelids stands up to re-reading, and that's always the acid test.
Cedar Rapids Gazette:
Cedar Rapids Gazette:
N.Y.: Doubleday, 1981, ISBN 0-385-17466-7
Roslyn, N.Y.: Detective Book Club, 1982
London: Collins, 1982, ISBN 0-00-231689-7
Bath: Chivers Press, 1984,ISBN 0-7451-0055-4
Paris: Gallimard [as Les paupières lourdes], 1986, ISBN 2-07-049078-5
N.Y.: International Polygonics, 1992, ISBN 2-07-049078-5