Thursday, August 9, 2012

Warning: Toxic Novel Area

I’m in awe of writers who have no trunk novels, because I have heaps of junk in my trunk.
In fact, if you dare to open my trunk you better be wearing a bio-hazard suit to protect yourself from all the toxic novels moldering within.

Here’s the whole sordid story:

Trunk Novel #1—A revenge novel I wrote after my boyfriend dumped me. That worked very well for Jennifer Weiner in “Good in Bed” but not for me. Can’t even remember what I called this opus.

Should have titled it “Amateur Night” or “Be Prepared to Bored Senseless.”  

The verdict?  

Do not resuscitate. It was my practice novel and so wretched I called in an exterminator to expunge it from my hard drive.

Trunk Novel #2---Came after five published novels. The title was “The Granny Panty Chronicles” and it was about a female, middle-aged rock band.

Should have been called “The Novel I Wasted Three Years of My Life On.”

 Not that writing time is ever completely wasted, mind you.

I re-wrote it several times, and I could never get it right. It’s also the manuscript that changed the way I approach novel-writing. Now instead of plunging into the writing willy-nilly I outline to make sure my idea will support a 80,000 word story.

Then I plunge in willy-nilly.

The verdict?

Shopped to two editors and was so freaked-out by the feedback I withdrew it from submission. Possibly could be revived but would need a lot of work, and hey, I already gave it three years.

Will probably only be published if I become wildly famous author, and need a bone to throw to the eager masses. Or maybe it will be published posthumously V.C. Andrews-style. Then I can’t be blamed.

Trunk Novel #3—The title was “Beautiful Lies “ and it was about a seventeen year-old girl who works at a beauty parlor that is a front for a Mafia-like organization. Think “The Firm” meets “Steel Magnolia.”  

Quit snickering.

Should have been called “Karin Makes Mercenary Attempt to Jump on the YA Bandwagon.”

The verdict?

  Despite the far-out premise, I actually had interest in this one if I re-wrote it. I finished it during my MFA program, and people who read it said it seemed schizophrenic. No doubt because I was trying to fashion a literary novel out of a commercial premise. Didn’t re-write because I had to stop work on my thesis, which is now on submission.

The verdict?

Dead in the water because I lost interest in it. (That’s what happens with money-grubbing novels.) But I may cannibalize parts of it for a different novel.

 Here’s a snippet from the ill-fated “Beautiful Lies:”  

My downfall began with a stretch limo, black and sleek as a mink. Jessica and I had left the cosmetology trade show and were trudging down the streets of downtown Atlanta, looking for a place to eat. It was late May, and the thick air stuck to my skin like a wet sweater.

The limo slid by--its row of windows blank and mysterious--and pulled up to the curb a couple hundred feet away. The doors opened, and one by one, they made an appearance: nine young women, dressed in curve-hugging black dresses and matching stilettos.

Oversized leather pocketbooks swayed on their shoulders, and each wore a gold pin with the initial “L” fastened to their chests. They strutted down the street, hips twitching, hair gleaming.

A tribe of goddesses.

 “Lux Girls,” Jessica whispered. “Everyone at the hair show is talking about them. They work at the Lux, one of the most exclusive hairstyling places in the country.”

 The Lux Girls headed in our direction. They didn’t look much older than me. Early twenties at the most, some even younger, yet they were obviously pulling in pesos by the handfuls. I took a step toward them.

Jessica grabbed my arm and yanked me back. “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to talk to them. See if they know of any openings.”

“You crazy? Nobody talks to Lux Girls. They’re hair show royalty.”

I laughed. “I bet they put their mascara on one eye at a time just like we do.”

Jessica shook her head. “They don’t wear mascara. They have eyelash extensions. Earlier I saw a few of them up close up; their lashes are as long as my arm.”

The Lux Girls streamed into Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Once they’d all gone inside, Jessica and I stood mesmerized, staring at the vacated stretch of sidewalk as if it was paved with gold.

Karin Gillespie is the author of five novels that managed to escape the trunk.


  1. Karin, your Beautiful Lies excerpt was wonderful, but I totally want to read your middle-aged female rock band book, too!!! Seriously. I think if we pour several years of our lives into a story (speaking from personal experience here :), there's something about it that compels us and would probably be compelling to others as well... Just sayin'!

  2. Karin, I enjoyed the beginning of "Beautiful Lies" and I enjoyed your customary wit here!

  3. Karin, I love this!! Please resuscitate!

    And this post is just so, so clever. Karin, you are the best!!

  4. I totally want to read a novel titled The Granny Panty Chronicles! Thanks for the fun post, Karin!

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  6. Karin, I could read about your trunk novels all day... pure entertainment. In fact, you might consider doing a book on trunk novels, complete with fateful tales and excerpts!! Thanks for the great post!

  7. I've tried to post several times and it's not working.
    Just want to say thanks for all these lovely comments.

  8. several days late but I loved this post!

  9. several days late but I loved this post!

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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