I'm back to The Buddha Diaries after a long silence. Before taking this break, I wrote a couple of entries about the in-progress novel I was working on, and I'm happy to report that it's now finished, at least in a draft that satisfies me for the time being. I'm sure I'll find more work to be done as I read back through it.
Now's the hard part. My recent books--Persist, Mind Work, and Slow Looking--were all put out as independent publications; the first two through the good graces of Paul Gerhards at Parami Press, and the third a self-publication. I think this new book has commercial potential, and will be looking for a publisher. Which means, first, finding an agent who'd want to represent it. It's two decades since I published my last novel, and my contacts have long since eroded into rust. So I'm putting out word, here and in other places, to ask if anyone has any suggestions.
Here's the skinny: the book is called The Pilgrim's Staff. It's a frank, unexpurgated exploration of male sexuality--meaning, it has some very explicitly erotic sex scenes. The dual narrators are a contemporary artist--a figure painter, thrice divorced, fascinated by the human body; and an 18th century gentleman, whose recently-discovered memoir he, the artist, inherits and transcribes. Both are of mature age, looking back on youthful escapades; both face the challenge of aging bodies--but with the perspective that age brings. The title, by the way, is (excuse me!) an 18th century euphemism for penis. So the story is the attempt of each of these two men to come to terms with their possession of said item, and to live at peace with the desires and moral responsibilities that go along with it.
It's an engaging narrative, I think, and one that carries the reader along at a lively clip. But it's not without its serious intention, to explore the dark side of human sexuality as well as its pleasures. My 18th century gentleman must wrestle with the concept of sin and real fears of retribution in the afterlife. My 21st century artist is, like myself, much influenced by Buddhist thought and practice; for him, that sense of responsibility is a more a matter of karma than sin and redemption. As author, I have given a good deal of thought to the dangers--and, let's be honest, the seductive delights--of pornography, and have tried to find the balance between authenticity and exploitation. Only the reader will know if I've succeeded.
So there you have it. Here's my request: if you have any kind of contact with commercial agents, editors, publishers who might be interested in such a book, please let me know. I start my own search today... And hope to be a more regular presence on The Buddha Diaries from now on.
Metta to all!