Dancing with the Dead

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It used to be said that writing a book was some of the hardest work a person could do, but let me tell you, gentle reader, writing a book is a lazy day at the beach in comparison to getting the damned thing published, and getting said damned thing published is nothing, a trifle, a mere bagatelle, in comparison to marketing.

Marketing is an invention of the devil, an exercise in perpetual frustration, much like dining with the devil. (Remember the spoons and forks so long no one can get the food to their mouths?) After I finally found a publisher willing to take a chance on a novella (“No one publishes novellas these days,” I was told, “it simply isn’t worth it, financially.”) that is neither pure fiction nor pure non-fiction (“Where is the bookstore going to stock it? Which section? And what is it anyway? Is it a romance? An adventure? A memoir? What?”) I decided to get a jump start on marketing, a primer, if you will, from wiser and more experienced authors. I contacted every famous and successful writer I know and asked for their secrets, the tricks they used to make their books fly off the shelves and into readers’ homes. The answer from each one of them amounted to, “Damned if I know.”

So, like Butch Cassidy, if there are no rules, I might as well get started.

Most of the homeless you see are mad or drug-addicted or both, but there are a few whose worlds spun out of control through no fault of their own.

Dancing with the Dead is a non-fiction novella. Most of the primary characters in it were real people; most of the events actually occurred; most of what I’ve written about those people and those events is true. At least, some of it is.

Pamela came from a world of wealth, education, privilege, and unlimited opportunity. Tony came from a world of pre-civil rights poverty, discrimination, and manual labor, where options were circumscribed in ways that are hard to imagine today. Pamela’s world came apart in the junta of Argentina’s Dirty War. Tony’s world came apart in the jungles of the Viet Nam War.

Part I provides the backgrounds of these two very different people; told in alternating chapters we learn who they are, how and why they became the people they became. Part II follows Pamela from Argentina to Los Angeles, from wealth to destitution to that condition beyond destitution we call homelessness. Part III looks at them from an outsider’s point of view, the author’s point of view, as they were when our paths crossed during my Simon & Simon days.

In their individual ways both Pamela and Tony were beyond help in any traditional, societal understanding of that word, yet together they were able transcend mere survival. On the streets of Los Angeles, where any two desperate people might forge an alliance, Pamela and Tony were lucky enough to find each other and forge something more, something very human and very moving.

Dancing with the Dead can be ordered from Amazon


or any online source, or, I believe, through your local bookstore. If you like it, I would greatly appreciate it if you could post a review on Amazon.

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