In the mid 1980’s to early 1990’s I was plagued by an idea for a movie. Screenplay format was unknown to me, so I did what I knew to do. I wrote the idea in fiction. It all started with a comic book, Daredevil, specifically issues 181 and 191. In the story Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, is in love with Elektra, a female assassin. In episode 181, Daredevil’s arch enemy (Bullseye) fights and kills Elektra. Ten episodes later Daredevil fights and paralyzes Bullseye. Torn between doing the right thing and seeking revenge, Daredevil stands over his enemy with a gun. An idea was born.
In the next few months, my main character became an assassin, not a superhero, and he was seeking revenge on the person who murdered his parents. Unfortunately, the murdered had changed his ways and became a minister. Torn between his desire for revenge and his desperate need for a final escape (taking his own life), the assassin tied the man to an old steeple cross and played Russian Roulette. My idea was to alternate points of view, letting each man’s flashback to reveal his side of the tale. Then, I hoped to bring the reader back to the present with a simple click of the empty chamber. At least that’s how it played out in my mind.
To my dismay, I never could get it to work. Nothing I tried equaled the images in my mind. So, for the next several years, I started the story only to throw it away…over and over again. I never got past the third chapter. It haunted me and frustrated me. Then the words of Phillip Graham, one of my creative writing professors from SIU, came to mind. “Mitchell, just write. You can edit later.” So, I finally took the advice to heart and let it go. In the next two weeks, I wrote seventeen chapters. The floodgates were wide open. The story played out before me. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t how I dreamed it would be, but it was coming to fruition.
I finished it, using the novel and a teaching companion as my master’s thesis at Belmont University. Then I pitched the book and pitched the book. Rejection after rejection came and beat down my resolve. Finally, I had a publisher willing to take it. He brought in an editor and we went through multiple revisions. They even forced me to combine the prequel (his father’s story) with this mystery/suspense/thriller. How in the world could I keep the story a mystery if I had to include the backstory within the same novel? Eventually, after months of grueling revisions and concessions, the book was ready to go. We even began to plan a release party. But…
The publisher decided on the spur of the moment to discontinue his fiction line and focus on the garden books that were bringing him a large profit. My heart sunk. I was angry, confused, and depressed. How did this happen? I was defeated. I’d poured my heart and soul into the project, was walking on clouds with the idea of my first novel being on bookshelves, and preparing myself for the next great book. Now, I had nothing. I had no more drive.
My father made me a proposal. He would fund the book if I would be willing to self-publish it. So, I did. I even had the newspaper come interview me about the process. It was a huge article, complete with a large photo of me sitting at my desk. I tried to promote it, but wasn’t very good at it. I sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 550 copies. It even made the Southern Writer’s Guild’s Summer Reading List. Crossing the Line was place right under John Grisham’s new book. I couldn’t believe it. The only downside was the cover. I hated it. The Christian element was supposed to be subtle and a surprise, but the publishing house put a big cross on the cover. Then I realized Crossing the Line was the title of at least 42 other books. Oh well.
So, now, twenty-seven years later, I’m rereleasing the story with some content changes, a new title, and a cover that I love. Scales of Justice is now available on Amazon as an ebook and a print on demand novel. My point to all of this is, never give up. Give it your all. Do what is within your power to do and then let go. It’s still not exactly how I pictured it, but I am satisfied. I am writing again and have an agent who is pitching a whole series of mysteries based on Homicide Detective Abbey Rhodes. God gave me gifts of creativity and writing. I’m doing the best I can to use those gifts, to tell the stories that are on my mind and heart, and to hopefully honor God in the process.
Check out the novel on Amazon, and please let me know what you think.