Just received via overnight package two advance copies of the finished, published version of my novel “One Hundred and One Nights.” They came as a wonderfully-timed birthday present gift from my editor at Little, Brown.
It’s been a long process, shepherding the book to this point, a process that couldn’t have happened without the confluence of tremendous good luck, good circumstances, and grinding effort.
In the category of good luck, I must mention how fortunate I was to have a couple stories originally published by Storyglossia quickly anthologized by Dzanc Press in back-to-back editions of “Best of the Web.” From there, I was doubly lucky for Jon Sternfeld, of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, to contact me and ask if I might be able to write a novel similar to the stories he had read in those anthologies.
After bantering around a few ideas with Jon, I settled down to sketch out “One Hundred and One Nights.” The process (here is the beginning of the GRIND) took a full year, writing during lunch breaks as I studied the Arabic language at the Defense Language Institute. Eventually, 500 words at a time, I reached a point where I had put flesh on a very, very rough skeleton of a first draft. Jon signed up to represent the novel and, after several thorough and complete edits/revisions under his guidance, he found it a home with Little, Brown’s imprint Back Bay Books. Here, again, more good luck: being pared with an editor (Vanessa Kehren) who took the book through several more important iterations of review and polishing and whose good ideas now pervade the novel to such an extent that it really should be considered a group effort, Buchholz-Sternfeld-Kehren.
And, as for the good circumstances? There I must credit my work in the military, first as a Civil Affairs Officer in Safwan, Iraq, and now as a Foreign Area Officer learning more about the Middle East, both experiences which have provided the waft and the supporting weave in which to stitch something I hope will convey a certain measure of reality while also invoking a bit of empathy for the people of the village of Safwan, Iraq.
A further bit of fortunate circumstance — taking my family with me this last year in Oman and throughout the Middle East. They not only enlivened my days, but provided space for me to write and inspiration for me to write about. I think “One Hundred and One Nights” reflects a little bit of them, my father feeling for my children especially which comes streaming out between the seams as the character Abu Saheeh slowly unravels his story. My family might say that living with someone who is trying to write/edit a novel is Not Quite Right but, without them, I would have been lonely, empty, and only resonating with the sort of hollowness that haunts Abu Saheeh in the beginning of the tale.
Please help me spread the word about this book! It will ship to bookstores (and ship from Amazon both as a hardcopy and as an eBook) starting in December! I’ll return to normal NQR blogging with most of my posts hereafter, though occasionally some exuberance, some note about especially great things going on with the book, may bleed over into this forum.
Thank you for your patience with my exciticism. I hope, if you do read the novel, that you find it both enjoyable and meaningful.