The decision has been made. (Naw, that’s a passive sentence. A no, no. Let’s try again.) I have made my decision! (Yes, much better.) For the two or three of you who have been eagerly awaiting the choice, the suspense is over. (No, that’s self-deprecating. Let’s make it more positive. Exaggerate, if necessary.) For all those followers eagerly awaiting an answer, the suspense is over! (Yes!)
It took me a bit longer than expected to get back to this. (No, don’t stretch it out. Get to the point.) And the answer is: The Baby River Angel. (OK, maybe that’s too direct. Will readers know what the question is? Not likely, unless they’re reminded. Better remind them.)
As you will recall, the discussion has been about my four novels, Circles in the Water, The Life and Death of Lizzie Morris, The Baby River Angel, and Blood on the Roses, and which of them I would prefer to be the first chosen to be made into a movie. (Well, that’s clear enough. Some won’t recall, but they have just been brought up to speed. Now elaborate.)
My tenth book, Patton’s Oracle, and the others not mentioned here are non-fiction and therefore not a part of this dialog. (What? Who cares? Stick to the subject!)
Why The Baby River Angel? Probably because it has received such happy feedback from readers. The first of my friends who read it said something like, “I read it straight through and felt so good when I finished I took it straight to a friend in the hospital who I knew could use some cheering up!” Well, a report like that makes me feel good, too.
See, here’s the thing. The Baby River Angel probably is not the best of my four novels, and I don’t think it is the most important. Both of those accolades most likely would go to Blood on the Roses. The latter is a work of historical fiction that deals with racial and other prejudices, set in east Tennessee in 1955. An important topic, very timely just now.
Closest to my own heart would be my second novel, The Life and Death of Lizzie Morris. Why? Because it is about the loss of a long-time mate—something most of us probably are not prepared for, but eventually will face. It also features as hero a World War II veteran who still bears the emotional scars of combat, another topic important to me.
Then of course there’s Circles in the Water. I think it’s a wonderful novel and it will always be special because it was the first full-length work of fiction I had published. After decades of writing non-fiction, that was something very nice.
What it comes down to in the end is, I like to make people happy. I believe that all four of these books are good literature. But I enjoy the thought of a crowd leaving a theatre after watching The Baby River Angel, big smiles on their faces, feeling good about themselves and the world around them.
Oh, and there’s one other reason. Among the four novels, The Baby River Angel is the favorite of my most important fan: my wife, Mary, my soulmate of more than five decades and the one whose opinion counts beyond all others. She and I seldom disagree on anything.