There can be a place for a book that won’t ‘fit in a box’
CARBONDALE, Colo. – Laurel Dewey is not Jane Perry.There may be similarities between Dewey and the protagonist of her first novel “Protector,” but she insists that she did not base Jane on her own character. “She’s so flawed,” Dewey said. “But that’s what makes her so interesting. She’s one of those characters that exist so beautifully on the page.””Protector” is the first work of fiction for Carbondale resident author and columnist of the “Humorous Herbalist.” The novel has been classified as a “gritty crime thriller with a paranormal edge,” according to the synopsis on her Web site, http://www.laureldewey.com, but Dewey was not sold on trying to put the book into any certain genre.”A lot of publishers I talked to didn’t know how to market it,” she said.Dewey herself describes the book as a “character-driven, crime thriller with a mystical thread.” Her goal was to introduce some of the mystical aspects in the world to the audience who loves crime thrillers.”I want them to think about things that they normally wouldn’t think about,” she said. “I wanted to write something that did more than become a coaster on the coffee table.”
Dewey didn’t set out to be a crime-thriller novelist. Growing up in Los Angeles, she had dreams of the movie business and making a name as a screenwriter. But life led her down a different path.”I always wanted to be a writer,” she admitted.From about the age of six she started writing stage plays and short stories. She would even stay home from school to finish her work. Dewey described herself as a good student, but that she just wasn’t particularly interested in school. She already knew what she was going to be when she grew up.”I would fake illness just so I could stay home and finish plays,” she said.Sometimes her mother would oblige. Even when her mother caught her sticking the thermometer under the hot water faucet. Dewey said that she did it because she just wanted to finish act III.”Writing was a fluffy goal to my parents,” she said. “But they always encouraged me.”
One day in 1999 is when “Protector” began. “Life was going along nicely,” Dewey said, but that year she hit a wall and came to a point in her life where she questioned everything. A very difficult time for her.”It was a dark night of the soul,” she said. “Thankfully I am a writer and was able to work through that difficult time in my life.”But it wasn’t until February of 2001 when she started began writing the book. First she thought that she would just write 50 pages and see where the story went, not telling anyone about the book, she said. But when she got 100 pages down she started sending the chapters to her friend Zoe in England.”She loved them,” Dewey said. “That’s when I knew that I may have something here.”From that point on, chapter after chapter rolled from her fingertips and she kept sending them to her friend for review.”That first draft was very angry,” Dewey said. “I was basically vomiting on the page with little structure, but I did have good dialogue.”It took 16 months to finish the first draft that was more than 600 pages. Then came the real work – getting it published.”I got a lot of positive feedback on the book, but nobody could put it in a genre,” she said. “Everyone wants to put a story in a box. But most of them couldn’t put this story in a box. So, I got a lot of rejections.”After nearly four and a half years of publishers saying no, she’d almost given up on her dream. One night, after reading one more rejection e-mail, she started making some calls to acquaintances in the publishing business.”I figured that after all that time of no one wanting to publish it, maybe I was crazy,” she said. “But I believed in it. So, I kept trying.”
Dewey, 45, has come along way since her first dreams of being a writer. Since 2002 there have been four drafts of the book, which is now just under 400 pages, in preparation for printing. She’s done many revisions and had numerous rejections all while trying to find a place for her story in today’s literary market.But when the day’s done, the ink is on the page.”It was a kick-in-the-butt to see it published,” she said.Dewey’s column “The Humorous Herbalist” ran for 12 years in numerous publications around the nation including the Post Independent. She’s published other works of nonfiction and even wrote a western novella “In the Name of the Land” which was nominated for a silver spur Fiction award, as well as a collection of short stories. And even though she’s very proud of her other works, she’s going to savor this one for a while.”It’s another flavor,” she said. “I just wanted to write something that would stay with the reader for a while, and I think I’ve done that.””Protector” was released on Jan. 1, and she is already working on the follow-up book. She’s waiting for the book reviews to start pouring in but doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in them.
“If you put your heart and soul into anything, if you’re honest and work with integrity and don’t lie to yourself, then I think you’re going to be successful,” she said.Spoken like a true dreamer.Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext. email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
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