Commentary 1: One

While the prologue seemed to write itself in a single sitting, I was at a loss for how to kick off the first real chapter. Two paragraphs in and I was already at my first roadblock. How would I ever write an entire novel?

It was then that I got some help from my younger self.

A few years earlier I had started work on a time travel short story called Paradox Lost. It was done out of boredom and completely written off the top of my head with no planning, and pretty much abandoned not long after it began. Not so coincidentally, it also started off at a bowling alley.

I dug it out of my hard drive, pasted it in, stripped out character names, wrote a quick bridge to connect the dots, and suddenly my word count had doubled.

Other tidbits:

  • Not all of the musical allusions are quotes or band names. Some are slightly more abstract situations. A good example is here, where in summary you could say there was “an old man sitting next to me…”
  • The cute French bartender is a nod to Corinne at the Arizona Bar in Luxembourg, who was promised a mention even though the characters don’t have names. (More on nameless characters in a later post…)
  • You may notice that the lottery numbers changed from the short story to the novel. In both cases they have meaning that can be decoded. The story version is probably easier to figure out and more of a joke, whereas the secret to the novel version is slightly more complicated and definitely has intentional meaning related to the plot. I’ll leave you to figure this out on your own though 🙂
  • While we’re talking about the numbers: Keep in mind this book was started in 2003, which predates the TV show Lost and its famous numbers.
  • Both sets of odds referenced are the real California Lottery Hot Spot odds.
  • My friend Nate used to always randomly say “I’m from the future” in reference to any time travel story when we were in college. The line is here partially for his benefit, and partially to show that the old man has been through this enough times to know that cutting to the chase on his abilities is usually the best approach to gain trust.
  • After reading the first draft, my cousin Adam commented that it annoyed him when the narrator always referred to “his bowling partner” and didn’t address him by name. When I pointed out that Nelson was the only named character he didn’t believe me, as he hadn’t even noticed. But he raised a good point, thus the anonymous bowling partner got a nickname.
  • I had always called my fantasy baseball teams “Bowlingo” after this odd bowling arcade game. This morphed into the more godlike “Bowlingus” for the book. My fantasy team names have also changed ever since.
  • “…following Bowlingus into his Olympus” is one of Jon Mack’s favorite lines.
  • There are 19 known musical references in this chapter.

Read Chapter One Online

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