Yesterday I went to see Dennis Lehane read from his new book Moonlight Mile at The Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline MA. The event was hosted by Brookline Booksmith and lasted an hour. He read a chapter from the book for the first ten minutes, then took questions from the audience. People asked interesting questions. Many of the questions concerned writing techniques, which led him to give us a special insight when he answered the last question of the day.
The last question concerned how alcohol played in to his writing technique, as he mentioned several anecdotes during his talk, which took place in bars. He told us that since there were obviously many aspiring writers in the audience (based on the questions we had asked), he would give us some truth. He said that he meets many people in “Key West bars” that tell him they are writers too, and talk about ideas they have for stories. But these people never actually write. His nugget of ‘truth’ for us was that if we say we are something, we have to DO that something. So, if we say we are a writer, we have to actually write regularly. He said that writing is a skill that has to be practiced daily, and worked at. I liked this insight, as it applies to most anything in life: it’s not enough to say or think something, you have to actually do it to make a difference.
When it came my turn to ask him a question, I asked his if he had ever read Wendi Lee. She is an author that wrote a five book series between 1994 and 2002 that took place in Boston, whom I had thought of over and over again when I first read ‘A Drink Before The War,’ the first in Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie/Angie Gennaro series. Her books were really enjoyable. I like that the action in Wedni Lee’s books consists of small things instead of big bombastic events. For instance, the big climax in one of the books involves someone running her car off the road and denting the side. While that may not sound like much, has anyone ever done that to you? If someone did, I’ll bet it would be a huge event in your memory from that day forward. One reviewer on Amazon calls ‘The Good Daughter’ slow and historically inaccurate. I live in Boston and found the descriptions of The North End top be very accurate, and I never found any of her books to be slow.
Wendi Lee is obscure. It seems like no one knows about her. Dennis Lehane did not know about her, but I can’t wait till he does read her. I’ll bet he enjoys the series. Wendi Lee’s character is Angella Matelli, and she is a bit like Angie and Patrick combined. Dennis said that those two characters represented two sides of his personality, and that Bubba Rogowski was like their dog, someone who would do anything for Patreic and Angie, with no morality or conscience.
You can find the Angela Matelli books at Amazon. At the time of writing most of them sell for one penny used, so I’d say give them a try. The first one in the five book series is The Good Daughter. If you want to find out more about Wendi Lee, I found this MacMillan author’s page for Wendi Lee that has her photo, and a fan site from the UK that has a Wendi Lee section. Somebody posted the last novel in the series to googlebooks, so you can read Habeas Corpus online there.