I am so close to finishing the first draft of CONTROL, I can taste the sweet nectar of completion, and not just the end of a single book, but the culmination of a trilogy. But, I am also burned out having written nearly half of the novel in the past month. I have been enjoying the marvelous spring weather in downtown Iowa City, sitting on the benches, people watching, as I simultaneously people watch my characters. Unfortunately, today is the start of a heat wave and I am relegated to my writer’s desk and the A/C is on standby for the onslaught. I only have a short way to go and it feels a lot like running a marathon when you get past twenty-four miles and your legs are cramping up. The best part is almost at hand and you just want to sit down and not run.
So, I am going to suck it up and finish this awesome story with a verve and sinew it deserves. Anything short of that will get fixed in the edit process. I promise.
Today I am thankful for all of the blessings I have received and the people who have lifted me up or pushed me in the back to keep going. Ten years ago I knew I needed to make many changes in my life, but making writing my career was only a dream. To the people who backstopped me as I fumbled around trying to get to this place today, you are the gravy, the dressing, the cranberry, and the pie with fresh whipped topping of my life. The Kirkus Reviews I (we) received yesterday are the affirmation that it was all worth it, that you were right to stand by and behind me, to hold me up, to calm me when I forgot that there was a plan greater than me. Those who smoothed the waters of my troubled life are my greatest earthly treasure. God is good.
I have written 3,500 words in the past eighteen hours, roughing out the ending of my first stand alone novel, Severance. These characters have been stewing in my mind for several years and they are ready. It feels like I had them in a crockpot, simmering away. All of the ingredients where in there, I guess I just needed to stir it around a bit, before I could write the first paragraphs—really getting the flavor of the story right.
The end came to me recently, I was playing around with it in my head for the past couple of weeks, waiting impatiently for the words to come, but after kayaking on the Cedar River yesterday, soaking in the sun, feeling the frigid snowmelt water with my bare hands and feet, I was ready to write it out. Tears welled in my eyes as I typed the final lines. I could feel the survivors’ pain, joy, and heartfelt desire to make something new from what had been lost. I wish I could share more with you, but it will be some time before it winds its way through the edit process and publishing. I will keep you posted.
I am working on the manuscript for Control, Volume III of The Betty Chronicles. Like Lee Child, I do not plot out my novels in advance, though I do think of major points that may or may not end up in the story depending how the writing goes. To be fair, after writing my initial thoughts of a story, usually a 2,000 word essay on characters and conflicts, I rarely look over the notes again.
I just finished a chapter that is a major pivot point in several relationships. I would say more, but it would be a spoiler. I sit here with a smug smile on my face knowing that a couple of threads that have been hanging loose for a very long time are now woven properly into the story, at just the right point. You will know it when you read it. #Betty #Tom #Howell #Ernesto
Hal’s review of Power is well reasoned and thoughtful. Thank you, Hal!
As the story gets more complex Mahler’s writing style becomes clearer and more elegant. He is particularly masterful at developing the characters….you will love or hate each of them at some point, and Mahler does a great job of teaching us to trust no one. By the end of “Power” you will be guarding your emotions about each and every character in the book. Add to that the fact that Mahler has constructed a complex web of dates, times and places that will truly impress you with his ability to walk a razor thin line that does not allow for a single detail to be out of place. Go read “Money” if you have not already done so, then dive into “Power”. If you dare!
A Goodreads member asked me this question:
Can you give an explanation on Lord Acton quote, please? “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” -Marvin
Thank you for your question. Lord Acton’s quote, while written with the Catholic Church in mind, applies equally well to any position of power. Power tends to corrupt when the holder of power uses it for personal gain or to preserve the position of power itself. Absolute power corrupts absolutely because of the nature of man. We are imperfect and therefore ill suited for anything such as complete control over other men.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings provides an excellent example of the power principle. Even a creature so devoid of the tendency for corruption such as the Hobbit eventually succumbs to the evil side of power. Frodo doesn’t actually succeed in throwing the ring in to the molten lava, the ring has gained power over him and he is unable. Only a tussle with Golem and his unfortunate plunge into the abyss saves mankind from the one ring and absolute power.
The men who found themselves in possession of the ring, even for brief periods declared they only wanted it to do good, but that is the slippery slope of power. Rather than do what it takes to negotiate a resolution, power provides a quicker and simpler route without the mess of compromise. We want to do the right thing and often justify the means (the use of power) to achieve an end (something good and just). Unfortunately, the means can be destructive even if the end product is just. The crusades are an example of a just mission that used corrupt means to restore the Holy Lands to Papal control.
In The Betty Chronicles, we see power wielded by men in back rooms with no natural constituency to rein them in: bad people are assassinated; governments subverted; the monetary supply of nations diluted; and the moral dilemmas of what lines are beyond the pale of the righteous use of power are explored.
Marvin, I appreciate your question.
Power will be released at the Iowa City Book Festival on October 3, 2015. Join me at the Java House at 11:30am for a reading from Betty’s latest adventure.