With the release of my novel Typo Squad imminent, I've spent this week in full-on shill mode, talking up the book to anyone who would listen. And even some who wouldn't.
People, for the most part, have been really supportive, and more than a few of them have asked where the idea came from. The simple answer is that I spent years and years as a proofreader and copy editor, and knowing what a thankless job that is, decided to give folks in the editorial business some heroes.
The less simple answer is that Typo Squad had been kicking around in my head for a very, very long time. Truth be told, I can probably trace its roots back to 1992. That was the year that the much-maligned (and deservedly so) hair metal band Faster Pussycat released their swansong album, Whipped!
On that album was a very clever song titled "Big Dictionary." Have a listen:
The pause that they put in between "dic" and "tionary" always made me think that it would make a great character name - Dick Shonnary. And how people might call him Richard.
That bubbled in my subconscious for a very long time, until about five years ago, when I decided to build a story around Richard Shonnary. But it wasn't going to be a novel. Typo Squad was going to be a movie.
I made attempt after attempt to get the screenplay written, but I could never get it off the launch pad. I'd get five or six pages in and the whole thing would just fall apart. It was maddening.
And then a couple of years ago, I found myself sitting at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with the great Chris Whigham and our wives, and he asked me what I was working on, writing-wise. I told him of my frustration with writing the script, and he said four words to me that changed everything: "Write the book first."
So I did. I sat down and I wrote Typo Squad, from beginning to end. It took me a really long time, and you know what? It was shit. That first attempt at Typo Squad was absolute swill. I reluctantly torched the entire thing and started over from scratch.
The second iteration of the book was better than the first, but it still wasn't where it needed to be. So yes, I put attempt number two aside and started it again. This time, though, I was able to take big chunks of what worked from the second version and use them in the third. And the third time was the charm. That's the version that the world will shortly see.
So I don't find it strange at all to be thanking Chris Whigham for his sage advice that day. (I actually modeled my favorite character in Typo Squad after him in gratitude.) I do find it strange to be thanking Faster Pussycat, but I suppose I must. So thanks, guys.
And now it's time to release Typo Squad to the world. And hope that the world enjoys it.