Sing a Worried Song is out ...
and I'm outa here too
“It takes a worried man to sing a worried song. I’m worried now, but I won’t be worried long.” It’s an old folk song that Arthur Beauchamp can’t get out of his head. But poor old Arthur will have lots to worry about, including his possible violent death.
Whatever happens to him is out of my hands now. Sing a Worried Song is out in hardcover and as an e-book as of today, April 1, 2015. Now I must return to my untitled, half-finished work-in-progress.
I’m on my way to ferry and airport.
I’m going off to commune where there’s no phone, no Internet, no email.
Blog / May 14
Lust. Thrill. Kill.
Okay, on-re-reading your partial manuscript (the copy on your computer ends at page 201), I’m thinking Brian Pomeroy comes off not too bad. Shrewd, edgy, witty, and the island ladies think I’m hot. I am in rich contrast to your Arthur Beauchamp, the emotionally self-abusing yet somehow lovable fusspot.
Sing a Worried Song. I get the title, but I’d have advised something harder. You have a vengeful thrill killer on the loose. What about, simply, Kill Arthur! Or, in the modern style, Lust. Thrill. Kill. (Title of a script I wrote in my noir phase. It’s available.) Or how about Thrill Killer Puzzles Police. Wurtz – that’s the guy you prosecuted, right? Who threatened to get you…
How does it end? Or do you know? Page 201—is that when the muse died of blockage of creative juices? When the walls closed in and you decided to go away somewhere and start life again?
As for your main plotline, let’s see, we have a sadistic, psychopathic killer on the hunt for the prosecutor who sought to convict him. Oh, dear, that’s Needles. We already did that one, didn’t we, Bill?
The Blog / April 22
He that filches my good name
Good afternoon, Bill, wherever you are. Still not receiving? Or are you finally tuned in to your blog? I suspect the latter. I see you sitting tight, hoping I’ll go away. I know now why you ran off. Not to escape the horrors of civilization. To avoid me, Bry Pomerantz.
Not just because of the vast guilt and remorse you feel over plagiarizing plot, twists and title of Needles. Yes, the book’s goddamn title—you don’t remember who came up with that? How did I feel when my name didn’t even appear in your acknowledgments? Imagine the sense of being buried alive. But now you have defamed me. You’ll be singing a very worried song if I sue for libel, bub.
You had erased all your files from your computer (or so you thought), but you forgot to clean out your trash, and there it was, Worried Song2.doc, which I took to be an early draft. I got a few hundred pages into it. I appear as your nemesis. I am the literary analogue of the fucked up character who so prominently lurks throughout its early pages. Brian Pomeroy. Way to come up with an original name.
The Blog / April 13
My Near-Death Experience
Just had a near-death experience. I was strolling up your driveway when an old pickup rattled down the hill toward me. My only hope was to cannonball into the second growth. Blue Dodge, crumpled fender, peace decal: I told myself to remember these specifics if I survived.
The Blog / April 7
Good morning, Blogosphere, I’m back. Hey, Bill, in case you stop by an Internet shop—do they exist where you are?—to check your emails, I have sent a couple to your old Yahoo account. No answer. But of course, anything from muy amigo mio, unheard from for thirty-three years, goes straight into Spam.
I was hoping you might at least glance at your website, your blog, and see my entreaties to make contact. Or maybe one of your cult following of good-humoured, nonconforming eco-liberals, or a relative, your agent, publisher, somebody who knows where the fuck you are, will get word to you that Bry Pomerantz has hacked into both your writing studio and your blog.
The Blog / April 4
The Wild Hippie Lawyer
Yeah, I clipped that item from the National Post. I had no idea. The deep end? You may have tiptoed near the edge. But divorce? Shacking up with hippies?
Flashback to this summery scene: I was sitting on a bench in Stanley Park. A bench I hoped to sleep on if it didn’t rain. The Screenwriters Guild had just denied my appeal to get my membership reinstated. I was homeless, hungover, as taut as a stretched condom, exhausted from ranting on the public pathways.
The final blow had just been delivered that morning: Sue announced I was domestically redundant, and gave me my walking papers. (You won’t know Sue, she was after your time. She’s a lawyer. Also, expensively, an afficionada of fine chopped flake.)
The Blog / April 2
Guess Who Just Hacked Your Blog…
That’s your parting shot? “I’m going off to commune where there’s no phone, no Internet, no email.”
You’re off to commune with whom, some hippie muse? Shit, man, we must have missed each other by a crotch hair.
Maybe that was you getting on the ferry as I was getting off. I said to myself, that can’t be Bill. That wild Einsteinian jungle of hair, the cheap sunglasses, the shirt half tucked in. No, couldn’t be you, I decided—you were always a snappy dresser. Back then. In those times of yore.
Don’t bother scrolling down to see who hacked into your blog—yes, it’s me, Bry Pomerantz, faded wunderkind of the big screen, your long-lost, long-ignored side kicker.
So now I guess that was you packing your bags onto the boat to Vancouver, to catch your flight to wherever the hell you’re going. A scruffy, rustic, yokelized version of you. I didn’t realize your breakdown was that severe, Bill. I read about it in the paper, how you went off the deep end and joined a hippie commune.
I assume you didn’t recognize me either. I was the Cool Hand Luke in the rattletrap truck, who having befriended its stoner owner got dropped off at the local mall, whence I made my way by foot to your house, hefting a pack with forty pounds of essentials. Cigarettes, beer, an illicit over-the-counter envelope of Captagon, and—in case I was invited to stay overnight—fresh gonches and socks. My MacAir and a script I’m working on.
I well remembered your place from when you were building it—that house-warming! a donkey roast, man. That was in ’79—you’d launched your first book, Needles. I brought along my old Needles file, btw, hoping to remind you how we had such a blast collaborating on it. There’s an old snapshot in it, you and me from the seventies. Arms around each other’s shoulders. Like brothers, man. If we were any closer, we’d have been gay.
Imagine my disappointment to find you’d taken a bunk. I was anticipating that delicious moment of recognition at the door, your shock, dismay. “Old soldiers never die, eh, Bill?” You would have responded with something like, “Yeah, but they don’t seem to fade away, either.” I would have explained, to your vast relief, that I’d popped in to your hokey little island only for the day. Just time to share a fast brew, that’s all, and to check on you. I was worried—I’ve been there, I’ve had breakdowns, some lulus. And I felt a need to reconnect with you, Bill, so we could mend our wounds, align our minds, bring back the old days, the creative sharing, the trips, the plots, the games, the laughs.
I would remind you how we brainstormed Needles. Remember that snapper I pulled out of my ass, making the hero a junkie? And how I came up with that twist for Chapter 15, the undercover hooker. (I picture your face darkening. A tremor, a twitch. Fear and loathing on Garibaldi. Oops, wrong island.)
Anyway, I found your house locked up tighter than Aunt Penelope’s anus, so I wandered around your forested hillside, checked out this cute little cabin buried in the forest above your house, which turns out to be your studio.
… of Sing a Worried Song
Well, the first review is in and, inevitably, with my luck, it’s from the pen of my bete noir, Horace Widgeon.Somehow the old bugger got an advance copy and persuaded the editor of The Squib, a pretentious literary quarterly, to allow him to eviscerate Sing a Worried Song.
Or rather, eviscerate its author. Maybe the people at The Squib thought it would be novel and fun to run a review by a fellow who sued the author for libel and plagiarism.
The attacks border on the personal. “I believe I read somewhere that Deverell has a ‘cult following.’ One can only imagine what strange beliefs this cult holds.”
He writes: “An over-inflated ego is mirrored to us from his pages.” Well, if you’re looking at a mirror, Horace, aren’t you looking at yourself?
The Blog: August 1
My Grovelling Apology
Pursuant to Article 3 (a) of the Terms of Settlement in the matter of Widgeon v. Deverell, executed this date, I hereby issue the following public statement:
I, William Deverell, sincerely and without reservation apologize to Horace Widgeon, OBE, MBE, (a) for infringing copyright of his various works and writings and (b) for this blog’s many hurtful and unsparingly insensitive comments about his character and his abilities and reputation as a writer, and express my deepest regrets over the distress thereby caused.
There. That was hard to swallow. But Brian Pomerantz, my counsel—and a notorious reprobate—warned that my chances were so bleak that I might walk out of a courtroom stripped of everything but my socks and underwear. (I’d been reluctant to hire such a wild man as Pomerantz, knowing he had just served out a suspension by the Law Society, but no reputable lawyer would take it.)
The Blog: July 6
On Thrill Killing, Libel, and Writers Block
Where was I? Well, obviously not looking after this sporadic blog.
In my defence, I’ve been driving to complete a first draft of an Arthur Beauchamp novel, a kind of horror sendup, a thrill killer stalking our anxiety-ridden hero. Does he survive? I won’t spoil the ending.
Still looking for a title. The Last Days of Arthur Beauchamp, something like that.
As well, I’ve been distracted by my personal horror show: that grumpy old fellow pictured in my posting of March 19 just won’t let up. To my astonishment, Horace Widgeon has discovered crowd-funding, and is exhorting his fans to kick in for the doubtless atrocious fees of his supposed hotshot counsel, Ballentine J. Bingham, Esq.
Regrettably, my guard dogs (see below) turned out not to be as ferocious as I’d hoped, and were nuzzling and crotch-sniffing Bingham’s pretty student lawyer as she thrust a writ at me through my open studio window. I wasn’t checking my security camera – too busy enjoying a scene where Beauchamp gets busted for pot trafficking.
Mesmerized by the sweet scene of face-licking dog love, I accepted the writ. It accuses me of libel and copyright theft. They’re starting at $500,000.
Come on, fellows, why can’t we settle this the old-fashioned way. A gloved slap. Muskets at fifty paces. Otherwise, I have a friend in Sicily (pictured here) prepared to make a counter-offer you can’t refuse. We would be saddened to see your client embarrassed by a public revealing of his terrible secret.
Enough said. Back to work. Here’s a lovely, long-winded tip about writers block from my nemesis’s masterwork, Secrets of the Whodunit.
“Do not mentally exhaust yourself. Before chance (and whatever small talents I possess) favoured me with literary success, I too had a day job, as inspector for Her Majesty’s Customs, and I would often arrive at work exhausted after scribbling till three in the morning. Many a smuggled item must have slipped through on my watch! So please, when you see nothing but rot on your page, take a deep breath, pack your pages away, and make a soothing cup of Earl Grey while you climb into your pyjamas.”
I prefer Chandler’s Law: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”
In my last posting, on suspects, I overlooked this delicious advice from the vigilance-challenged former customs officer:
“The tardy entrance of your final suspect must not be seen as an afterthought, idly tossed off. Even the dullest of readers should exclaim: ‘Eureka!’ as they realize they ought to have paid more attention to the boring parts.”
Next posting: how to skip over the boring parts. (For instance, the entirety of Widgeon’s short-story collection, Stiff in the Freezer.)
The Blog: May 27
On Suspects, Villains, and Masturbation
Six weeks ago, I wrote: “Next week, hopefully, advice from the master in creating the ideal suspect…” Okay, but, things got out of hand. It would take a terabyte of information to explain why and how – the end result is that I have taken in four homeless strangers threatened with eviction.
This is how I found them, behind bars, loo0king for a new home
So far, they have done an admirable job of keeping process servers from the door. Widgeon’s solicitors in England have finally found some supposedly hotshot Vancouver counsel willing to stifle my right of free expression. I know this guy. Ballentine J. Bingham, Esquire. A loudmouth. Sadly for him, his registered letters and writs of summons don’t make it past the “Premises Protected by Attack Dogs” sign.Anyway, on to my next lesson. From his masterwork, The Art of the Whodunit, here is Widgeon on suspects: “The author must offer an array of suspects, and dress them up with strong motive—or at least clothe them with the proper accoutrements of suspicion.”
The Blog: April 13
More Hot Murder Tips
Well, three weeks have gone by and not one word from the so-called “leading Canadian counsel” whom Horace Widgeon retained to shut down this blog and put me on my beam ends (see posting March 19). I suspect the touchy old scold blanched when he heard the fee. Leading counsel don’t come cheap, even out here in the colonial backwoods. There go all his advances for his next twenty novels.
So I presume I’m free to re-embark on the project I began on this blog a few months ago, before Mr. Widgeon’s untimely intercession, of passing on to budding writers of crime fiction many of his delicious tips and techniques. All for free. No annoying ads. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Facebook.
I can’t remember where I left off, so let’s return to the beginning, the creative process, and again I take delight in gently lifting a quote from The Art of the Whodunit.
“Know where you are going. No mystery writer may successfully embark upon a cruise across the dark waters of murder without knowing the port at which he must ultimately disembark. One plans, one outlines; one builds a skeleton on which to hang flesh.” (This grisly metaphorical combo is, I feel, Widgeon at his finest).
The Blog: March 19
Widgeon Wakes Sleeping Dogs
Creator of the Inspector Grodgins Series
18, Vicarage Lane
March 18, 2013
Dear Mr. Deverell,
Many days have I struggled to still my indignation at your impertinent public response to my sincere offer to accept an unrestrained apology in settlement of issues between us. But at the risk of offending my solicitors, who advise I let sleeping dogs lie while their writ plods its way through court, I cannot let your canards go unchallenged.
Let me say firstly I am proud to bear the name of the great Horace of Caesar’s time, whose satire was intended for social abuses, not personal attacks and ridicule.
Particularly, I want to assure you that the action I am taking has nothing to do with your intemperate review of Blood on the Remainder Table. Please know that I have simply shaken off, like a wet dog, your laments about my allegedly inapt metaphors and “interminable” sentences; however, I warn you that far too often have you skated on the thin ice of libel when commenting on works by our compatriots, so I propose to strike a blow for my fellow scribes by suing you for defamation and theft (yes, theft, my good sir, for you have filched not just my good name – that “precious ointment,” if I dare quote that greatest poet and crime writer of all time) but have stolen that which I daresay does indeed enrich you: the copywritten creations born of my lonely labours at this very keyboard. I am instructed that in one of your novels, Kill All the Judges (which I haven’t read, having assigned my clerk to shoulder that repugnant task) contains some fifteen quotes lifted holus bolus from The Art of the Whodunit. That book retails at ten quid in trade paper!
Nor do my demands for satisfaction have anything to do with my narrow loss in the finals of the Nero awards of several years ago. Though as an aside, let me say there was quite a stir at Cheltenham Press when word came from the jury room that Get Grodgins was favoured. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that with Deverell on the jury, my book stood as much chance, to use a metaphor, as the egg the chicken laid on the road.
Meanwhile, I am instructed to advise you, in the event that you try to evade service of the writ, that my solicitors have retained a leading Canadian counsel to petition the courts for an injunction to close down your blog pending trial of my claim which, I shall warn you now, Mr. Deverell, will involve a sufficient sum in damages to put you on your beam ends.
Sincerely, Horace Widgeon, OBE, MBE
The Blog: March 5
A Response to Horace Widgeon
Thank you for inviting me to publish in my blog a full and unequivocal apology for whatever I said that ails you.
May I call you Horace? And perchance were you named after the great Roman poet and satirist? By intriguing coincidence he was also a How-To’er, whose The Art of Poetry, unlike the bulk of your output, is still in print, and which famously mocked the worthless creations of the literarily inept: “The mountains are in labour, and a ridiculous mouse will be born.”
Ah, but satire, as I submitted in my last posting, is not your bag, is it?
Not to rub salt, old stick, but you may remember my using that very quote in my syndicated review, some years back, of your twenty-third Inspector Grodgins mystery, Blood on the Remainder Table, in which I had a little fun with your cliché-driven sentences and fussy literary mannerisms.
The Blog: March 2
Widgeon Threatens Libel Suit
Well, friends, it appears I may be sued for libel, as well as face expulsion from the International Crime Writers Association. This is because my last few posts seem to have infuriated Cornish novelist Horace Widgeon, creator of the mildly successful Inspector Grodgins series.
The email attachment that he fired off to me (which I will reply to, but give me a while to consult with my inner lawyer) confirms one of my knocks against Widgeon: he lacks a sense of humour. I write satire. He doesn’t get satire.
Hey, Horace, me cocker, I’m only sending you up, it’s all in good fun. Get over it. Pour yourself another Laphroaig. This grumpy photo from the dust jacket of For the Fun of It suggests you could use one:
Creator of the Inspector Grodgins Series
18, Vicarage Lane
March 2, 2013
Dear Mr. Deverell.
Let me preface this letter, with as much civility as I can muster, by saying I was an early champion of your works, and felt no envy at – nay, I applauded – your unexpected success. More power to you that you slid smoothly from successful trial lawyer to successful writer (even though you didn’t pay the traditional price of living out of a suitcase padded with rejection slips).
That said, it takes no pleasure to notify you that I propose to put your legal skills to the test by taking action against you for defamation, plagiarism, and copyright infringement. As well, I shall be moving to have you struck from the Registry of the International Association of Crime Writers .
The Blog: February 18
For the Fun of It
Dear future best-selling crime writers: an apology.
In my last entry, February 8, I promised that this week I would offer strategies for devising compelling, page-turning ideas for your plots – strategies that, admittedly, I filched from Horace Widgeon. But I got sidetracked by the old sot himself.
Here’s what happened. The other day I visited a used-book store – I don’t normally go to such places; it’s hard seeing your books on the dollar rack, earning not a nickel in royalties – hoping to buy a replacement copy of Widgeon’s The Mystery Novel Unravelled, one of his popular How To’s. My own copy had itself unravelled, from heavy thumbing.
None was in stock, and I ended up purchasing a dog-eared copy of one of his novels. Truth to tell, I hadn’t been keeping up with this prolific author since I was turned off by his depressing 1985 award-winner, Digging Your Own Grave.
The book I bought is titled For the Fun of It, which I thought an odd title for a crime novel. Perhaps the author had written something light-hearted for a change, hoping to persuade readers he actually has a sense of humour, one he managed to stifle in his thirty-five Inspector Grodgins novels.
For the Fun of It came out two decades ago, and no, it’s not comedic. However, to my surprise, I became completely absorbed in it. The setting, as in most of Widgeon’s fictions, is the apparently crime-ravaged town of Illings-on-Little Close, where evildoers are invariably brought to justice by the indomitable but stuffy Inspector Grodgins and his wrong-footing sidekick, Constable Marchmont.
As a result of a bullet wound to the head in a prequel, which I now regret not having read, Grodgins was still suffering a severe visual agnosia, impairing his ability to recognize familiar faces, and even objects. Despite the handicap, his finely tuned skills had him closing in on a bad apple who’d randomly killed several friendless loners.