244 pages (softback); 73,000 words (manuscript)

"Unsettled" had the dubious honor of being very arty. Not to belittle that lovely little novel, but I went into the writing of "Audrey Green" with the hope of recapturing an audience. It's more commercial, less pretentious, and not as formal.

THE NUMBING OF AUDREY GREEN introduces Audrey, an eight-year-old girl with a large family in the town of Dorry, England, in the year 1957. Her father, Simon Green, is a bookkeeper studying a mysterious ledger discovered in a shipping office after another bookkeeper's vanishing. Simon unlocks a hidden code - the encrypted name of a Nobel-nominated germ researcher, Robby Holliday. Taking his daughter, Simon Green runs off to find this man, hoping it will lead to the missing bookkeeper. As their escape begins, Audrey Green starts to lose her sense of touch…

From there, the book gets more detailed. I made a definite attempt to write a "tapestry" novel. The story could really have begun anywhere, with any character, at any time between 1874 and 1958. Audrey is the focus of the book, but she encounters more than 60 other people. And each of these 60 is actually paired in threes. Figuring out motivations and similarities becomes key to really enjoying the book. However, at no time is the reader allowed access to more of the riddle than any given character. I wanted active participation in playing detective - who's who, what's their motivation, and what is the answer to the puzzle? It's a book about clues, about buried treasure, and about drawing conclusions based on sketchy information.

I think this novel deserves a wide audience. I like the idea of a whole series of these, opening up the mystery wider and wider. This book contains a fully satisfying story, but there's room for more. However, if I put in every idea I had, it would be about 1000 pages long.

Side note:

This book came about after an intense bout of writer's block. I know it seems dumb, especially since I had completed "Unsettled," "The Death Guard," "Nihilists," "W/M," and "Scream Together/Cry Alone" all in the early part of the year, but it took a good 4 months of nothing before this book came along. I had actually started several books - the story of an accountant who finds a code in a ledger, another about a typist and her affair with her boss, and a third about a detective looking for a missing girl. I hated all three books - one I even wrote 100 pages on before I decided it sucked. So I took all the characters I liked, all the snippets which were halfway cool, and I just threw them into a big melting pot. The first draft made very little narrative sense, but at least it was interesting. So I kept working on it, chiseling away. "Audrey Green" took about nine months to write, the longest I had ever worked on a single project (unless you count the first OO OO WA record.) Now I can honestly say that it was worth it. Really. Check it out.