Maine Public Radio has chosen The Poacher's Son as its April selection for its "Maine Calling" Book Club. The network is inviting listeners to read the novel and then listen in at noon on Thursday, April 24 for a panel discussion. You can stream the show live here or download it later. (In case you are wondering the author doesn't appear on the program because the producers want readers to talk frankly about what they liked and didn't like. This is a wise choice, in my opinion—and somewhat of a relief.) The Poacher's Son is only the third book the club has chosen for discussion, and I am honored to be included in this statewide reading initiative.
The fifth Mike Bowditch novel, The Bone Orchard, won't be published for five more months — until July 15. But I have plugged the text into a fun program called Wordle, which highlights the most commonly used names and words in any piece of writing. Consider this word cloud a sneak peek at the story. One name certainly pops out prominently from the others:
I have been finishing up the copy edits on The Bone Orchard, and this morning at breakfast, I happened to come across an interview Norman Mailer did with the Paris Review. One paragraph leapt out at me:
A book takes on its own life in the writing. It has its laws, it becomes a creature to you after a while. One feels a bit like a master who's got a fine animal. Very often I'll feel a certain shame for what I've done with a novel. I won't say it's the novel that's bad; I'll say it's I who was bad. Almost as if the novel did not really belong to me, as if it was something raised by me like a child. I know what's potentially beautiful in my novel, you see. Very often after I've done the novel, I realize that that beauty which I recognize in it is not going to be recognized by the reader. I didn't succeed in bringing it out. It's very odd—it's as though I had let the novel down, owed it a duty that I didn't fulfill.
I have had this experience with every book I've written, watched it become a living creature apart from me. Reading Mailer's words, I realized that I had none of his regret concerning my own new novel. I consider The Bone Orchard my best book to date. I feel as if I have done everything I could to bring out what is potentially beautiful in it. Will readers agree? That's always the question.
Look for the book on July 15.
I recently recorded an episode of the Maine TV show "Wildfire" with George Smith and Harry Vanderweide, talking about Maine's game wardens, both the fictional ones I write about in my books and the real life officers I've come to know in my research. The interview lasts about half an hour: