- Why did you write the book?
The story of Lands End was written when I was going through The Dark of the Soul, transitioning back into the “real world,” from a 23-year career working as the team photographer for the San Francisco 49ers.
For years I had read the books of Dr. Carol Adrienne, a noted life coach and the acclaimed author of The Purpose of Your Life and The Celestine Prophecy: An Experiential Guide. She is an expert in the field of synchronicity, serendipity and intuitive thought.One night I Googled her and was surprised to learn she lived close-by and did individual coaching work. We worked together and she urged me to pursue writing.But about what? Upon leaving the 49ers, I felt a powerful need to go back to the drawing board and completely remodel my life. Through Carol’s mentoring, I realized that by exploring shadows and the roads not taken I could find an answer to the question, “What If?” Mindful of my intuitive thoughts and through the amazing energy of synchronicity and serendipity, the design and structure of the story slowly began to appear.
Before becoming a sports photographer in 1976, I had been a San Francisco Police officer in my early 20’s.The people I needed to help write this story all miraculously appeared right at the moment I most needed them. My ambition was to tell a story about a Baby Boom Generation cop who late in his life is forced to ask the basic questions of himself about the meaning of life; who I am, what I want, why I am here and where I am going. He learns there are things more important than action, power, money and prestige. McManus discovers love really does conquer all.
- What is the book about?
First novels are invariably autobiographical because of the author’s inexperience. That was certainly my case writing Lands End. So I stayed close to home and wrote about a character with a life similar to my own — a man struggling with his imminent retirement, trying to make sense of his past and remodeling himself to meet the future.
The story evolved into a San Francisco tale of; love and betrayal, generational conflict, sibling rivalry, women’s issues, retirement — and the murder mystery of an All-American family man, former NFL player and current San Francisco assistant fire chief who’s found stabbed and brutally murdered out in the dark cold fog at Lands End in San Francisco on Christmas Eve. Lands End contains a multiple-plot story line, with raising tension about people forced to make decisions under intense pressure. The story fits into the psychological/thriller genre. Just like Hamlet.
- What have you taken from writing this book?
I learned the power of careful listening and intuitive thought. I did an incredible amount of research on a wide variety of subjects, everything from knife fighting to gender differences in defining courage.That really opened my eyes.For the most part, I feel men — including myself — have viewed courage and the ability to absorb pain as part of the male DNA and what defines our masculinity.
Women, on the other hand, don’t have the need to prove their manhood or womanhood. Women see pain and discomfort as part of their monthly cycles. For the most part, they see courage as just part of their job description – not the validation of their femininity.The social experiment of women performing in “non-traditional” jobs has been pretty much played out over the last 50 years. With the exception of playing Nose Tackle in the physically extreme world of the National Football League, women have shown they can be the equal of men as warriors and conquers. Nobody really wants to talk about that because it dramatically underlines the vulnerability of men and our egos. And I include myself in that insecurity.
- What do you hope people will take away from reading the book?
An entertaining read that perhaps gives them pause for mindfulness. What makes Lands End a great story are rich interesting characters that entertain on many different levels. But, most importantly – their morals and motives are open to interpretation.
- Are you anything like McManus your protagonist?
Good question! I like the idea that McManus is a compilation of a lot of characters I’ve met in my life. The same can be said for all the characters in the book. I was curious about what my life might have been like if I had stayed as a San Francisco Police officer and not resigned when I was 25 years old after only four years in the business. What if I hadn’t married? What if I hadn’t gotten into sports photography? One of the exciting parts of writing this story was I got to go back and create a life of historic fiction about the character and the roads I didn’t take.
I didn’t want to write from a coulda, woulda, shoulda, DIDN’T frame-of-mind. Instead, I tried to write from a cause and effect standpoint by posing the question, “If this happened, what would I have done?” To answer that, I had to be brutally honest with myself. There were a lot of times it was not a comfortable place to venture.