Deer Park novelist talks The Devil’s Game and how he overcame his crisis in confidence
Deer Park novelist Sean Chercover has conquered the midpoint hump of writing novels.
It only took him his mid-30s to stake claim to this obstacle — a common dilemma where writers loath their manuscripts and dump them to pursue fresher ideas.
The 48-year-old is hunkered in the corner of a café patio, over-looking St. Clair Avenue East, enjoying the free puffball pastries and his macchiato.
“What I’ve learned, now, after five novels and talking to a lot of people who have written a lot more than me is at the midpoint of your manuscript, you’re going to hate it, and you’re going to decide it sucks, it’s irredeemable and you’re going to get this shiny new idea that you should be writing instead,” he says, sagaciously. “That still happens at the midpoint and you just have to push through knowing that.
“If it’s broken, you can fix it later, but the one thing you can’t fix is a blank page.”
The second book of his Trinity Game triology, The Devil’s Game, was released in June, and he’s hard at work on the conclusion, The Apocalypse Game, slated for a September, 2016 release from Thomas and Mercer.
He says he’s keen on the “woo woo” factor of his story arch that follows the exploits of investigator, Daniel Byrne, who in the second book no longer works as a debunker for the Vatican.
Byrne’s first mission in The Trinity Game, was to debunk his estranged, evangelical uncle, who starts talking in tongues, and predicting future events.
Now sleuthing is something Chercover is familiar with, having worked with famed Chicago detective Ernie Rizzo while attending Columbia College, and working as a Brother Seamus in New Orleans. Though it was originally meant as a research post, as Chercover always knew he wanted to be a writer.
“I was in my 20s, and I wanted to write. I was in university, but I didn’t know what I wanted to say, yet. I hadn’t lived enough yet. You have to go out there, get some experiences, get your heart broken, and then you start to have more to say,” he recalls. “It was a great opportunity. It was an incredible experience that I would never, ever want to repeat.
“Once in a while, you have moments of terror, but most of it was boredom.”
Even though P.I. work had it’s positives, including Chercover educating himself about voodoo culture in NOLA, he needed to return to his ultimate goal: writing.
“(Detective) becomes your job even though you intended it to be a research thing, then one day, I woke up and I said, I meant to be writing,” he says.
Now, with five novels completed, published, and a The Trinity Game making the Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list, he’s enjoyed his life in Toronto, even becoming a big cycling enthusiast, and re-acquainting himself with his old haunt, the Sleuth of Baker Street, where J.D. Singh and Marian Misters would introduce him to many a potboiler writers.
“”I’ve been a book geek all my life. When I was a teenager at Leaside High School I would go to the Sleuth of Baker Street, and I would just go there and hang out,” he says. “They know you. J.D. would just hand me a book and say, ‘You’re going to like this’. I discovered a lot of authors through them over the years.”