a kid in my college screenwriting class had an idea for a script about a guy and girl criminal duo. he didn't know what they should do or why... only that they rode a motorcycle. i pitched him an idea about taking advantage of hurting teens... but he didn't like it.
the idea stayed with me for two years. when i was in los angeles and needed to write a low-budget screenplay, lighthouse nights immediately came to mind. there were only three main characters and the few locations could all be found in my home town.
"simplicity" was also the motivation for turning the script into a novel. i had just finished the enormous The Brandywine Prophet and needed to write something short and fast... so i grabbed the screenplay for lighthouse nights and converted it to a novella in five months.
word count: 44,571
chapters: 3 + prologue & epilogue
months to write: 4
current book edition: 3
sequence: 2nd book written, 1st published
where i wrote: i wrote the screenplay in my apartment in los angeles and the book in my apartment in arkansas.
WHAT I LOVED About Writing lighthouse
- like i mentioned above, i had just finished writing a giant book and needed to write something quick. this is part of the reason i decided to write in all lower-case letters... for some reason it felt dirtier and easier to put words on the page.
- i worked with my cinematographer friend richard vialet on the second draft of the screenplay. our intention was to talk about the visual style of the potential movie, but richard ended up giving me new ideas for the story. this process was one of the best collaborative experiences of my life.
- because i had already written lighthouse as a screenplay, i was really able to refine the beats and characters in the book. there is no "fat" in this book, a departure from my other work which could probably stand to lose a few words!
- writing the character of trevor was a pleasure. he was the first truly maniacal character i had ever written about, but i also enjoyed giving him a heart (since no one is truly evil).
- the number-one challenge of lighthouse nights was learning the self-publishing process. ebooks were just starting to get big, but the software to develop them was still rudimentary. the paperback was a bit easier, but i still had to teach myself how to design a cover and how to properly format the interior... which is so much harder than i could have imagined. it took just as long to publish the book as it took to write it! once the book was published, i had to build a website, learn SEO, design ads, buy ads, search for reviewers, and so much more. it was (and continues to be) a stressful and tedious process, but it's a tremendous feeling knowing the book is "out there."
- honestly, the rest of the book was pretty easy!
My Lighthouse Notebook
i tend to like the moments when i can get away with more poetic prose. in such a stark book, the passage where jules compares her life to an edgar allen poe poem always stuck out to me.
my rules for the midnight mastermind series:
- trevor is never the focus of the story.
- the books need to stand alone as their own, complete story.
- no pop-culture references.
- no capital letters except for emphasis.
- no longer than 50,000 words.
during our talks about the screenplay, my friend richard came up with the idea for jules's note, as well as the heartbreaking moment emma's parents pull in the driveway... two of my favorite scenes in the book.
the art school critique in gabe's prologue actually happened to me, but after the professor said i was too romantic and needed to live a little, he told me i was accepted into the school. gabe's character is how i feared i may have turned out if i didn't get accepted.
as with all my books, you can see my design skills develop radically over time. the 2nd image was my first official cover. #3 and #4 were experiments using a drawing from timo gellenbeck (who ended up creating the watercolor for the accidental siren). #5 was the second-edition cover for my "blank canvass series" idea. unfortunately, this ugly design stuck around for several years until the recent overhaul of all my covers.
despite the fact that the noose looked like balls instead of an upside-down heart, i forged ahead with the idea. i actually bought rope and took pictures starting at image #10. my good friend susie bailey came to my rescue and helped point me in the right direction with version #11, which i tweaked to create the final, third-edition cover.
THE Lighthouse SCREENPLAY
click through the sample pages, or download the full screenplay here.
notable additions to the novel:
- gabe's art school critique in the prologue
- gabe waiting for his crush at the dunegrass grill
- emma's funeral
- gabe drawing jules on the pier
- jules "flashbacks" to her childhood as jessie
most of the additions were things that would have been difficult to shoot on a tight budget. overall, the novel remained pretty faithful to my original vision.
the future of trevor
readers loved reading about trevor and i loved writing about him. i already had a few ideas that involved characters similar to trevor, so i decided to make him the subject of a series called the midnight mastermind series. book two is called fallout dreams is already available!
i have two more ideas ready to write... and a few more ideas that could develop into more trevor stories if readers still like the character.
ask me anything
...about lighthouse nights or my writing process or literally anything else. goodreads has a great q&a forum where i can respond directly to readers. Check it out!
Book Club Questions
My "Delve Into" pages serve three purposes:
1. To provide more content for fans of the books.
2. To preserve my writing experience for my sentimental self.
3. To be as transparent as possible with my writing process to help others.
If you find these pages to be useful or inspiring, please spread the word!