Q and A on Warren Lane
Where did the name Warren Lane come from?
Warren Lane is the name of a tiny street in Charlottesville, VA. It’s only a block long. I passed by it one day in 2006 when I was biking to work and the first thing that popped into my head was, “That’s the name of my first book.”
For many years, I told myself that I’d write a novel someday. Now I had the title. Two words down, fifty thousand to go.
Did you know then what the book was going to be about?
No. I had no idea what it would be about.
So what made you finally write the book?
An old friend who had helped me through some hard times had cancer, and I knew she didn’t have long to live. She was a librarian and an avid reader. I had made a promise many years before that I would dedicate my first book to her. So now I had a sense of urgency. I wanted to get it done.
Did your friend like the book?
I think so. A few weeks before she died, she was making annotations in the margins of the draft I sent her, and when her husband asked her what she thought of it, she said, “He knows I’m on my deathbed. And he sends me a f***ing manuscript to edit!”
Where did the story come from?
I still don’t know. These characters appeared in my mind, and they were all very present. Very real. The good-hearted young man who drinks too much because he doesn’t quite believe in himself. The gifted young woman who’s too promiscuous and self-destructive. The sensitive, intelligent woman who chose what she thought was a good path, and then finds herself in middle age struggling with the questions, “How did I get here? And where am I going?”
To me, the story is about the characters, who are all slightly damaged and dysfunctional, but very human and likable. The most interesting people I’ve known have all been lost and struggling. They’ve all been seekers, and they often make really bad decisions that complicate their lives. But if they’re lucky, that’s how they find what they’re looking for.
The book is a twist on the traditional detective story. It has a strong, fast-moving plot, but as you read, you find you’re more interested in what’s going to happen to all these characters than in simply unraveling the mystery of what Will is up to.
I’ve talked to many readers, and the one thing that all of them have said is that they don’t know how things are going to work out. They get eighty, ninety percent of the way through the book, and they don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Where did the name of your press come from? Stolen Time Press?
I have a full-time job, a wife, and three school-age kids. When you’re at that point in your life, you find that all your time is owed to someone else. Any time you take for your own projects is stolen time.
Who did you steal time from when you were writing Warren Lane?
Ask my wife, and she’ll say from her. Ask my kids, they’ll say from them. Ask me, and I’ll say I took it out of my sleep. Everyone’s a victim. Or, what is the word? Contributor. Everyone gave up a little something for this book.