by Karen Cantwell
Recently I sat across from an agent, pitching my first novel, Take the Monkeys and Run. She listened, then quietly pondered without responding. Finally, she asked me, “Is it really believable that a house would stay vacant for thirty years? And this business about someone finding monkeys in her yard. It’s seems far fetched.”
Really? Because, while my humorous mystery is fiction, it was inspired by true events.
First: my good friend in a nearby neighborhood happens to live next to a house that has, in fact, been vacant for thirty years. Creepy place. It is hard for me to drive by without dreaming up another fantastic story about what that house hides within its walls. So, YES, I do think it’s believable that a house could remain vacant for thirty years.
Second: that far fetched idea of the monkeys. Well that story hits much closer to home. Like my own yard. My neighbor across the street loves to tell the story about the day, soon after she moved into her new house back in 1970. The day she found monkeys on her garage and in the trees of the lot across the street – where my house now sits. After calling the police, Animal Control came and collected the critters, but no one ever told her where they came from. It remains a mystery to this day.
Hmm. House empty for thirty years. Monkeys appear mysteriously in a nearby neighborhood . . . thirty years ago. Now I’m SURE (or am I?) that the two stories aren’t truly connected, but my writer’s mind just had to take them and run. And voila! A book was born. I’m proud to say, that in its earlier draft with a different title (Monkeys in My Trees), the novel was a Semi-Finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Re-vamped and re-titled, we’ll see what the future holds.
Karen Cantwell’s work has appeared in various university and college literary journals. Most recently, her short story “Little Red Boots” won the Editors’ Choice Award at TheNovelette.com. Another short story, “The Recollections of Rosabelle Raines,” will appear in the mystery anthology, Chesapeake Crimes: They Had it Comin’, due out March of 2010. She provides readers with short fiction stories at http://fictionfordessert.blogspot.com.