When I was a kid I wanted to be everything. I practiced tight rope walking on the chain-link fence behind my buddy Jeff’s house in preparation to join the circus; explored the city sewers, preparing to become a world-class archeologist; drew up plans for a theater in my backyard and cast Debbie Reynolds in the lead role of my first production… All of this fueled by the books I’d read and the imagination that fed on them.
But when I was older and wiser (age 12), I realized there wouldn’t be enough time to become everything I wanted to be. I grieved. Deeply. But then one day I discovered a magical device that would allow me to become anything and everything!
It was called Writing.
By the time I reached 8th Grade I’d decided to become a world-famous novelist (is there any other kind?). I even had a pen name: “Jules Paris Casino.” Soon, however, other passions like acting and music pushed poor Jules into the attic.
I did become a writer. My work in theatre and music led to writing comedy sketches, songs, plays and screenplays. But Jules the novelist was still there brooding in the attic
Finally, when Disney TV asked me to write a novelization of my in-the-works animated series The Wishing Map, Jules came down from that moldy garret. Disney eventually dropped the project, but I finished the novel anyway. Why? Because I discovered I loved long-form, loved returning to the same world again each day! (The Wishing Map was offered a deal by a religious publishing house, but I let it go because their fiction sales, apart from romances about pretty Amish girls running away from farms, were weak.)
Meanwhile, opportunities arose to write and direct feature films, so it looked like The Wishing Map would remain my sole novel. Then the producer of my movie Over-the-Rhine announced plans for its long-delayed release, and I jumped at the excuse to write a novelization!
Yet the moment I began writing it, I felt like a charlatan: “What am I thinking? I’ve written one young adult fantasy. This is serious fiction. I’m not a novelist.”
Do you want to be? my soul asked.
“Oui!” Jules shouted, “Weeth all my heart!”
Well, then get to it!
This week I started the third draft of the novel Over-the-Rhine. My alpha readers have been wonderfully encouraging. But regardless of what happens next, I’ve finally realized…
I am a novelist!
Oh, and one quick announcement: Jules Paris Casino has decided to publish under the pen name…