Name: VALERIE NIENBERG
April 19, 2006
STUART - Author Dave King wrote his first novel without a net. Or at least without an outline.
“I started with an outline and an ending in mind, but then I saw that the parts of the book that really came alive were when I strayed from that,” said King, who is a former painter, spoke to members of the Literary Society about his first novel, “The Ha-Ha,” Tuesday in Stuart. “So I very dramatically threw it out, I deleted it from my computer.”
“The Ha-Ha” follows Howard, a brain-damaged Vietnam vet who yearns to carve out a life for himself despite being unable to speak or write. King said the protagonist evolved from two of his own personal interests, traumatic brain injury (his older brother suffered from severe autism) and the Vietnam war (he was just young enough to miss the draft.) However, King said Howard is not based partly or wholly on anyone he knows.
In fact, the entire book is fiction in its purest sense in that it grew entirely from King’s imagination and invention. After he abandoned the use of a story outline, he said he just let the writing take him where it may.
“It never occurred to me that you could just sit down and write a story without knowing the ending,” he said. “But I’d sit down and think, ‘Hmm, I wonder what will happen today.'”
Although the book’s title plays a large role in more than one capacity, King said the ha-ha - an in-ground architectural device used to separate property instead of a fence - almost didn’t make it to the page at all. “There’s sort of a deep ditch there, but when you’re looking at (a ha-ha) horizontally, the land just seems to roll on and on,” he said. “After a while that became symbolic of Howard’s life. There’s a fissure or break that hasn’t been addressed.”
The book, which was released in 2005, has received numerous awards and is in the process of becoming a motion picture.
The Literary Society is sponsored by Northern Trust Bank and the Stuart News.
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