The cutting room: Paperback and ebook available now.

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In 150 words

Jeff Whittaker has been a trusted communications advisor at the highest levels of government and industry. Now, no one seems to want his advice. Unemployed at fifty-five, Whittaker volunteers at the Jamieson International Documentary Film Festival, where greater value is placed on his clean driving record than his strategic public relations expertise. He is assigned to chauffer one of the festival’s biggest draws—Margaret "Terror" Torrance, a Hollywood star at the top of her game and the bottom of most casting lists. Although inhabitants of vastly different worlds, Whittaker and Torrance share the scars inflicted by personal and professional slings and arrows: Torrance self-reinvented by sheer force of will; Whittaker an unapologetic introvert still scouring his life for meaning. Across five days of film screenings, media interviews, workshops and parties, the actor and the communications expert clash and click, challenging each other to stave off the entropy of middle age.

There's more to the story

It was labour enough crafting all 71,500 words of The Cutting Room. Writing the synopsis was torture. "So… what's your book about?" Uh, everything, I suppose. Honestly, the only point I set out to make was "I can write a book." But things changed once I realized I was well on my way to doing that. The story took on new meaning and momentum. It was no longer some exercise or distraction. It was becoming very real and, I humbly believed, reasonably good. How the hell did that happen? All the credit goes to determination.

There was a period, much of 2012, I think, when I barely touched the manuscript. I’d hit a plot wall. At some point late in the year I realized with cold clarity that whether I went through, over or around, I had to get past that wall. I did. And that’s when the writing took off. I suppose it was the downhill slope, the joyride of long-form writing, the giddy certainty and relief that it will soon all tie together and make sense. It’s the delicious magic that’s conjured only once you’ve got depth, once the alternative reality of your book gains focus, when it begins to breathe on its own, its life confirmed.

The Cutting Room began as a film script back in 2011. I often start stories in script form only because it’s the genre I know best. I feel more comfortable building with pictures and dialogue, which is why you’ll find a lot of the latter in the book. I prefer to create characters based on what they say rather than how they think. True, both thought and voice define characters. But dialogue is the currency of personal interaction. You can propel a story with thoughts, but not so much the relationships between your characters.

It isn’t a long book; however, I think you’ll find it dense—not with meaning, necessarily, but with activity. There’s a lot going on. It strikes me as one of those books, like a mystery, that you must pay attention to as you’re reading. But perhaps that’s giving too much away.

The Cutting Room is available now in paperback and ebook version. Apple users please note that Amazon's Kindle for the Mac is available for free.

I hope you enjoy the book. Drop me a line. Let me know what you think.