When this novel is finished the way I like, I can definitely say it took me decades to write. The book’s working title is the Swanson Shuffle but it has had others. First, Walking in Place and then Crazy Daisy. I believe there were other titles I considered.
Of course, first I had to live it, sort of. In the novel, a woman leaves her dead-end job and relationship to live and work in psychiatric house. I lived and worked at one, too, but I moved there with a husband and baby — we were to be role models. But this book is fiction and not a memoir so we’ll say it was inspired by my experience.
I began writing the novel in 2000. I finished it a year later. I did my best to get it published but it didn’t. I understand why. I have that version still and it stinks.
So the novel sat and I went onto other writing projects until a few years ago.
The Swanson Shuffle — Swanson is the name of the house and shuffle is what a few clients do because of the medication they take — is now first person, present-tense. Bia, the main character, tells the story. She’s got a dark sense of humor and a caring heart. I read from it at the SOMOS Writers Series in Taos last year and from the reaction, I would say I am onto something.
I return to the Shuffle in between my writing projects for middle-grade readers or when I give a draft a rest for six weeks. I can’t go without writing too long. Besides the Shuffle is far different than writing about the magical, mischievous twin jinn.
I wrote another chapter for the Swanson Shuffle in December. I figure I am about half-way to two-thirds done. Now, I’ve started a new book about the magical twins. The first chapter is going well. And when the time comes, I will return to Swanson House again.