“Tide Turning:” An Interview with the authorReading at the library Friday, March 7, 5 p.m.
The Block Island Times’ editor Lars Trodson is not just a newspaper man; he’s an avid writer of 54 who writes in many genres and regularly contributes to the blog Roundtablepictures.com. “Tide Turning” is his second novel. His first, finished in 2011, was called “Eagles Fly Alone.” Both were published by Mainly Murder Press, LLC. “Eagles Fly Alone” introduced the mystery reading world to one fictional Langley Calhoun, a former police chief and now private investigator in the fictional town of Fenton, New Hampshire. It has garnered very positive reviews on Amazon (Trodson says, “It was kind of a hit,”) and left readers hungry for the next installment. Well those readers will be happy to know that the next installment is about to hit the bookstores. And they will also be happy to know that a third book is already in the works.
To celebrate the publication, the Island Free Library will be hosting a book signing and reading on Friday, March 7, at 5 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
It is not important to read these novels in order. The author does a fine job of weaving in Calhoun’s back story to those who may read “Tide Turning” first. In fact, the blanks that some may be wondering about get filled in at just the right moments — just as the reader can’t bear not knowing any longer.
For those who can’t wait for the paper version, or otherwise prefer “e-readers,” the book is available on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. When we sat down to talk about the book, Trodson told me that it was a: “Heartwrenching process to go through the errors” in the published form, “but then they get corrected… they don’t last forever.” However when I mention that one character has one surname on one page and a different one on the next, he admits that “My own mistakes kill me.”
(I know Trodson well enough that I feel I can tease him about what may seem, to many on Block Island as an obvious error: that of referring to “seagulls.” I know it’s nitpicky on my part — millions of readers would never notice.)
Speaking of killing, “Tide Turning” is a mystery without a murder. In fact, Trodson downplays the mystery aspect of the book in our interview, saying that it is really more of a character study and a love story, with the real mystery being Calhoun himself. I’m not going to give anything away here except the fact that I did enjoy reading the book, and suffice it to say that Calhoun has an inner secret, and therefore a lot of turmoil in his personal life.
“If you carry a secret that’s central to the core of your being, it radiates out to everything else in your life,” says Trodson and this is the theme that carries the book.
We speak about the craft of writing and Trodson tells me that the first thing he does is pick a name for his central character – before he even knows what the character will do. Likening it to acting, he says “Once you get a costume down you become the character.” In this case the protagonist’s first name, Langley, is the city in Virginia that is the center of the CIA, and just as the CIA doesn’t disclose much about itself, neither does Calhoun. As far has “Calhoun,” well Trodson “just liked the name.”
I asked about other names as well, one of which is the same as someone on Block Island (I can’t say who). He says that all of the major characters are purely fictional, but some of the minor characters’ names are people he knows and considers friends.
The town of Fenton is also purely fictional although the geographical area does exist. “As a writer you gain much by making up names and places,” says Trodson, meaning that if, for instance, he had used the University of New Hampshire instead of New Hampshire University, he would be bound by the details of that institution, such as names of programs or specific buildings on campus. “But make the landscape as real as possible” he adds, and that is what gives his novel that unmistakable New England feel.
Once the character is chosen, Trodson says the most important thing is to get through the first draft. When I ask him if he writes in a linear way or moves through the novel going sometimes forward and sometimes back the answer is “linear.” He says that the hardest part is the first draft and that you have to keep moving ahead and get the structure down, even though sometimes you go down a blind alley that’s no help and you end up making plot mistakes. Those mistakes can be corrected in the revision process though.
Of course, I had to ask Trodson if he had come out to Block Island specifically as a place to write, as a few have done in the past, but the answer was no. He says he: “Didn’t make a million dollars [on the last project] and had to go back to work.” The job was the attraction and the listing for The Block Island Times was the second one he clicked on in his search. In fact, the writing of the novel was put on hiatus for six to eight months while he concentrated on both his new job as editor of the Times and his new neighborhood of Block Island.