A note for those who lead double lives
May 14, 2014 by Thomas Wictor
My next novel is about double lives. One double life in particular. As I’ve said before, I made it all up. Not a single aspect of it is true. Being a novel, it’s entirely fictional.
Recently someone wrote the following about my novel Chasing the Last Whale.
For anyone interested…I’m half-way through Chasing the Last Whale and I just wanted to share some feedback. This is not a review—that will go on Amazon—but I felt a more immediate need to post something. I’ll be honest, I was a little scared away from this book (and its sister) based on the fact that Tom Wictor, its author, was such a good interviewer and I so enjoyed Ghosts and Ballyhoo that the idea of an immediate trilogy (including a work of fiction and a compilation of dreams) seemed like such a departure from his areas of expertise (interviews and flamethrowers) that, well, I guess I dismissed them immediately out of hand. I feared the worst. I knew that they would have to be awful.
I must eat some humble pie.
If anyone reading this has/had the same concerns as I did, toss them immediately out the window. I guess a great writer is a great writer, and if Tom was writing cookbooks or technical manuals or children’s tales, well, they would be the best damn ones out there. Chasing the Last Whale is a really, really, really good story. It’s riveting. It’s not a rehash of the Tom Wictor stories we got on this website and in Ghosts, not just a “fiction” version rehashed but this time based on the life of a character named Dom Victor. It stands on its own, and for that reason I’m a bit sad it got lumped into this “trilogy” thing and isn’t getting the recognition it should be, potentially, as a result. It reads like a book years in the making, and maybe it was, but it didn’t come off that way on this forum.
So, I’ll leave it at that, and post a full review once I have finished the story. But if you love a good, emotional, character-driven story, you won’t do any better.
You’re supposed to write about what you know. That’s generally good advice, but I didn’t want my first novel to be about a music journalist. So I did a lot of research and discovered the job of copywriter in the creative department of the frequency-marketing division of a marketing corporation.
You’ll have to buy the book to find out what that means.
Just kidding! I hate it when writers say that. Here’s what it means, taken directly from the book.
“What does a copywriter at a marketing corporation do, exactly?” he asked.
I willed myself to not sigh.
“Yeah, I know,” he said. “I’m a dumb-ass.” His smile was mocking.
“It’s just that people fall asleep when I try to explain what I do,” I mumbled. I was so angry, it was hard to speak.
“Now you got me interested,” he said. “Tell me.”
“Okay. I work in the creative department of the frequency marketing division of Soledad Marketing Group.”
“Yeah? And what the hell does all that mean?”
Can’t a car hit us? Or a bolt of lightning?
“Frequency marketing is how companies boost customer loyalty and increase repeat business,” I said. “Uh, you know when you buy a carton of cigarettes and they give you a baseball cap with the company logo on it?”
“That’s a ‘continuity-premium program.’ If you use a certain long-distance service, and they award you frequent-flyer miles and discounts at a DVD-rental service? That’s an ‘external-group program.’” I counted on my fingers. “Clubs, sweepstakes, coupons, escalating rebate offers, mail-in rebates, membership programs, time-release programs, points, stamps, contests, scratch-off games, collect-and-win games, gift cards, punch cards—they all lure customers back. My company is hired by other companies to come up with repeat-business programs like that, and in the creative department, our job is to supply all the words and images.”
“So if I get a coupon or a scratch-off game, you’re the guy who wrote the words on it?”
“One of the guys and gals, yes.” Now he could make fun of me some more.
He laughed. “Far out! You got a great job. That’s something I never even thought of. I was just gonna be a machinist.”
His response floored me. My hate turned to intense love, and I almost started crying. “You’re the first person I’ve ever met who didn’t think my job was stupid.”
“Yeah, well, that’s because I’m not stupid. I’m not just some blue-collar asshole.” In the blink of an eye, he’d become furious. “You wanna guess how I broke my fuckin’ neck?”
My love changed back to fear. “Um…no, that’s okay.”
He changed back to affable. “Aw hey, it’s cool, man. I didn’t mean to snap at you. I get carried away.” He smiled as he sipped water from his tube.
Sunny-cloudy-sunny-cloudy; he was like a time-lapse video of the sky.
So there you go. I researched that job and then made my main character—Elliot Finell—do it. Before I wrote Chasing the Last Whale, I knew nothing at all about frequency marketing.
I’m a heck of a researcher. I love researching anything. Answers are what I live for. The three military-history books I wrote required tons of research. Here are about half of the references I’ve used to write Assault Troops of world War I: The Central, Allied, and Neutral Powers.
That photo doesn’t include online references, downloaded PDFs, and photocopied governmental records. Those are just books in my own library. I’ve put Assault Troops of World War I on the back burner for now. I’m driven to finish and publish my current novel. Which is entirely fictional.
Guess what I know all about now? Leading double lives. For those of you doing so, let me tell you what can cause your entire tapestry of lies to unravel.
1. A single conversation.
2. A single photo.
3. A single page in a notebook you forgot to destroy.
4. A single paragraph in a letter you forgot to destroy.
For a researcher like me—someone who values truth above all—any one of those is enough to put me on the right path. And even though my next book is 100 percent fiction, I thought my lawyer would be interested in my research. Just for kicks.
And he was! He has copies of everything I’ve uncovered. All that fiction is in the hands of a guy who values truth above all. Do you know how much he values truth? He talked Tim and me out of a legal maneuver that would’ve enriched him considerably without benefiting us. You know why he did that?
Because he has ethics. What an old-fashioned word. As I was writing this, I got very newfangled message on YouTube.
born in Caripito, Venezuela… ur whole life living in Texas, the Netherlands, Norway, Great Britain, Oregon, Japan, and California didn’t teach u anything wise old man??
u probably failed and sucked at history in lewis and clark college, jobless, hmmm what else u were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder with secondary psychotic features ahh that explains…well ur music sucks old man get a life!
ur a psycho id
go pick on the people who tricked you and used your brain disease to fraud you. dumb ass next time u get a website at least secure it.
Okay. I will. Thanks for the advice.
While I get another Website and secure it so I won’t be frauded again, here’s a song that has no particular significance.
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