The Palisades – The Landscape of Big Sur

I’ve spent many days in Big Sur. I’ve been drawn to it for years given its many moods and changing landscapes due to the weather. No other place exists in my mind where the landscape is as disarming and mysterious when the fog rolls in. Landscape plays a big role in the characters of my novel, The Palisades. The fog permeates the book just as rain permeates the series, The Killing. Setting a mood and tone for a book or television series is much the same – people reflect the places they live in – some in mercurial ways, some in placid, more passive ways.

In using fog as much as I do in The Palisades, I wanted the reader to begin to feel claustrophobic in the lives of the characters. In essence, to wrap them in their stories and not let them out until each of them make their final decisions. I wanted the reader to feel the fog lift and dissipate when the characters worked out what they needed to do and it was fun to work in that mode. I remember vividly the act of writing much of The Palisades late into the night – working after hours in darkness to get at that feeling of closeness and only being aware of the small space surrounding me.

When I went to revise the book after many years after working with my terrific editor, Amberly Finarelli, I paid particular attention to character’s motivations as it related to what was happening in and around them weather-wise. But I also didn’t want to overdo it and found myself removing sentences and descriptions that went too far. It’s important to ground the reader in the character’s existence but not to drown them in detail. It’s a fine line, and I fight the urge to overdo description constantly.

If I’ve done it right, however, then landscape becomes a sort of character unto itself, and it informs the novel and its characters, and it enhances meaning, which is the most important thing writing description, in my mind, can do.

The pleasure of remembering those days in Big Sur, where my skin sparkled with dense fog, and the landscape changed in an instant when the fog rolled away or swept over the hills remains vivid. I think this book is finding an audience as it’s continuing to sell well despite a definite lack of marketing effort on my part. But I do love this book – it meant a great deal to me as I wrote it, and it gains more meaning as time passes.

A note: The cover photograph of the novel was taken nearly 30 years ago on a camping trip with my friend, Sean Galland, a fellow photographer. I had it drum-scanned to digital for safe keeping over the years and finally put it to good use since it fit the mood of the book so nicely!


Airstreaming and The Palisades are now available on Nook

For all you Barnes and Noble NOOK  owners, and I hope you’re legion, both of my novels, AIRSTREAMING and THE PALISADES are now available on NOOK. I didn’t realize how easy it was to put them up there, but there they are.

The review that started it all for me and the very first one I’ve ever had. Thanks, Matt!

A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

” If this hadn’t come up we’d still be together, still working things out as we got used to each other. A year isn’t enough time to learn about someone—even ten years. Or maybe you can never really know whom it is you decide to share your life with. Maybe you just go through it and bend around the obstacles together and hope that one or the other doesn’t veer off into some unforeseen territory. ” [26:273]

What is meant to be will always find its way. The Palisades tells the story of how a family finds its way back to love. Nicholas has grown up with his father, stepmother, and brother Peter in southern California. After college he returns to Big Sur, where he last saw his mother, to claim a part of his life that was locked in the past. He used to think about her…

View original post 492 more words

The Palisades receives another 5 star review

As a writer, it’s always amazing to receive great reviews from readers far away that you don’t know, but who take the time to comment on a book on Amazon. So wonderful!

“If you want to read a story well told and extremely well written, this is it. Tom Schabarum opens the family dynamics in this story in a way that draws one in. His ability to give one a beautiful vision of the area and still make you focus on the details of the story are extremely well written. This is a book that digs deep into family conflict, love, disappointment, and compassion. A must read.” Charlene Haugen, MN

Download a copy of The Palisades for yourself here!

Writing from the Well of Emotion – An Interview at Lambda Literary

Matt Yau has an excellent literary blog called “A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook” in which he reviews and writes about all things books – a whole lot of books. It’s astonishing how many books he reads. In the spring he did an interview with me in support of “The Palisades,” which he’d reviewed during the summer. It has finally been published on Lambda Literary’s website. The interview is called “Writing from the Well of Emotion.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Matt at my reading in San Francisco this spring where he introduced me. Take a look at his blog and see if you can match the velocity of his reading, or at the very least, read the excellence of his critiques.