Back in the 1980s, a friend and I used to pick categories and compete to pick the best choice for a name or thing that fit. The category might be “best name for a grunge rock group,” or “best name for a high performance sports car,” etc. We would drink a beer and toss our best guesses at each other. Fun.
One day we decided on “best name for a country western singer.” After several tries and a lot of laughs, I came up with Bascolm Traskett.
I never felt I got the right name. Christopher. Chris. Maybe it was because my name wasn’t popular for boys in the 1950s. The only Chris people I knew, other than me, were female. I don’t know. I never had a name in mind that I wanted, I just never felt Chris should be my name.
The upshot is, names are very important to me when I write a story. Sometimes I change names multiple times until I believe each character got the correct one. In Difficult Lies, Bascolm Traskett became a New York state highway patrolman who finds himself in a coma with Allan Vickery, my protagonist. Bascolm is a very important character, even though his major presence is in the first quarter, if that, of the novel. He teaches ‘Vic’ how to hit a golf ball properly, and that knowledge fuels the rest of the story.
I’m thankful I wasn’t a child of Frank Zappa’s. Chris never felt right, but it’s so much preferable to Dweezle.
Difficult Lies began its journey to publication in about (allow for some fog in the memory) 1993. I know that’s very close, if not spot on. I was committed to painting back then, and though I always loved to write fiction and poetry, I kept the idea of writing in my back pocket as something that might keep me from suicide if I went blind and couldn’t paint.
It was in the early ‘90s that, in the Toledo area, realist painting began to temporarily fall out of favor. I recall that another realist painter friend and I didn’t get in a local show in which we were normally accepted. We went to the show’s opening and stood in front of a very nice abstract painting. He turned to me and said something to the effect that we better learn to paint purple dogs.
I had an Apple II computer back then. I was behind the curve with new technology, and the only thing I used it for was to play an early computer game called Hellcats Over the Pacific. I was addicted, and spent more time than I should have, dog fighting with Japanese Zeroes at night.
I have always loved the game of golf a lot more than it loves me. I also began to fantasize about what it would be like for a normal guy, a hacker like myself, to suddenly become very good at the game. What could be the effect? Would the man’s life change? Would he be able to maintain his relationships? His occupation? His goals? And how might this change in his ability as a golfer believably occur?
One night, instead of Hellcats, I decided to start writing to see what might happen to this fictional man. I remember thinking that within fifteen minutes, I’d know if I was wasting my time.
Twenty-two years later, after stacks of revisions, literary detours, piles of rejections, and lots of self-doubt, Difficult Lies is now published by one of the many fine, fearless small presses who are willing to take a risk on an unknown author. My bucket list had one entry—don’t die with the novel stuck in my computer. Just took my pulse. Yep. Still here.
Christopher Werkman is a fiction writer and artist. He holds an MA in art education and taught for 30 years at Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio, and nine years as an adjunct art instructor at the University of Toledo. Christopher has designed covers for three published novels and a short story collection. A native of Ohio, he currently lives on a few acres outside Haskins with his partner, Karen, and their cats. When he isn’t writing or painting, he enjoys playing too much golf and tennis, and rides his motorcycle anytime there is sufficient traction. Werkman has published numerous short stories. Difficult Lies is his first novel.
Is Allan Vickery alive or dead?
After being hit on the head by a golf ball, Vic himself isn’t certain. It turns out he’s comatose and what he learns while unconscious is life-changing when he awakens.
A man in mid-life crisis . . .
Struggling to keep his faltering marriage alive while attempting to become a recognized painter and still succeed at teaching high school art, his new ability becomes a volatile accelerant for issues that merely smoldered in the past.
In the resulting inferno . . .
Vic finds passion in the arms of a lover and riches in the world of high-stakes golf matches. Whether you know the game or not, you will be gripped by Vic’s quest to answer the question . . .
How do you endure getting everything you wished for?