Category Archives: Butterfly

1989, a novel

By order of her majesty, Queen Taylor of Swift, all artistic endeavors henceforth shall carry the title “1989.” It is highly recommended, in the decree, that the works either repeat, verbatim, Her Royal Highness Swift’s lyrics from the inaugural 1989 work or at the very least follow a similar story arc.

1989, a cover

1989, a cover

Luckily, my novel (formerly titled “William Murphy’s Trip to the Quiet Room“, which was formerly titled “Butterfly“) happens to involve the year 1989 in a significant way.
Laura Murphy, wife of the ex-hockey player, is a plumber, and the demonstration of a work-in-progress project at their home results in an explosion that sends her, her daughter, and her best friend, Eli Whitney (great great granddaughter of the inventor of the cotton gin) hurtling back to 1989 while William and a blacksmith (I can explain, I swear) have to sift through the rubble of William’s life to try and get the family back together again.

Which I think it’s safe to say is sort of the subtext of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album.


I Haven’t Died Yet

I am still alive, and still kicking the old agent hunt down the road.

Hits for the opposition

Hits for the opposition

The scoreboard isn’t looking particularly good at the moment (who knew an empty, soul-sucking void could hit like that?), but, at the very least, I’m still at bat, still working on the next thing(s), so who knows?


I also don’t have anyone else in the batting order with me, so this baseball analogy, never minding the fact that there are three competitors in the game and I don’t seem to ever get any more balls or strikes pitched to me, is a little stretched, at this stage. So, so tempted to dig out the old Sane Magazine t-shirts (which you can still buy, by the way) and fire up the internet hamsters at for old times’ sake.


Update: Score one for the agents!



One-Minute Time Machine – Sploid Short Film Festival

William Murphy’s Trip to the Quiet Room involves a little accident with a time machine that rips a family apart, so the subject matter is near and dear to my heart, and Devon Avery (@Dir_Devon_Avery) and Sean Crouch (@Seanecrouch) and crew have a sweet (sweet and a bit salty, so cover the kids ears while you watch) little story about time travel of a different sort than building a contraption in your bathtub to take you back to the 1800s.

Check it out here or on Gizmodo’s Sploid Film Festival page:

William Murphy’s Trip to the Quiet Room – Chapter One

And now, for a little sneak peek from William Murphy’s Trip to the Quiet Room, a novel I hope you’ll be able to read some day.

   My name is William Murphy, I used to play in front of crowds chanting my name with bloodlust. That was before.   Now I work at a butterfly ranch. I make dreams come true. Probably.

Chapter One

If you happen to be or know a literary agent, I’m more than happy for you to get in touch. Heck, even if you’re not you’re welcome to drop me a line.

Knuckles vs. Numbers: from Grantland Features

William Murphy's Trip to the Quiet Room

William Murphy’s Trip to the Quiet Room

Grantland put together a nice little documentary on the disappearance of the role of the fighter in today’s National Hockey League, starring Paul Bissonnette, Brian McGrattan, and Colton Orr on the fighting end of the stick. All three of those guys put in time in the American Hockey League this year, toiling away while they waited for spots to open up again in the NHL.

It’s about eight minutes long, give or take, so four hooking penalties or thereabouts.


All of those guys have enjoyed some success in the big leagues, but the American Hockey League is where William Murphy, protagonist of “William Murphy’s Trip to the Quiet Room” whiles away his hockey life, literally fighting for his livelihood. The book joins him once his career (and the career of his buddy, another fighter, Germaine Bousquet) is over, but the rough and tumble nature of what he did doesn’t just let go because he’s hung up his skates and his gloves.

Grantland do a great job of showing off the guys affected by this shift in mentality in the NHL away from fighters and the stats guys affecting the change. You’ll note, though, that never the twain shall meet (which is probably for the best).

So if you’re into hockey, or if these guys and the lives they live are in any way the slightest bit interesting to you and you’re an agent or publisher or know one, well, have I ever got a book for you.*






* And if you’re not into hockey, well, the book isn’t all about hockey. It’s also about plumbing, Old Sturbridge Village, time travel, mothers and daughters, the F.B.I., and Cape Cod.

What Book Would You Read?

If I told you I had a book and you weren’t immediately frightened by that prospect (of me having a book, not me talking to you), which title would make you more likely to read it?

William Murphy's Trip to the Quiet Room

Only a suggestion

Answers on a postcard… or, preferably, sent by picking a button next to your choice above and hitting “Vote”.



Still no news on the agent front (besides mean-spirited April Fools jokes), just working out my email-sending fingers.

Dennis Lehane on his Newest Book and Missing Boston

Dennis did a spot for WGBH a little while ago in which he talks a little about his latest book, his connection to Boston, even though he’s now living on the west coast. It’s a short but sweet interview but obviously the part that resonated with me was this:

I think you write better when you are homesick. [… T]he next book is set in Boston. I’m writing it from California. I’m thinking about Boston all the time.

There’s a long history of the exiled writer, whether self- or Hollywood-imposed, and I wholeheartedly agree, I think (and others may not agree) that my best writing comes when I’m writing about home. For example, Butterfly (which may be retitled William Murphy’s Trop to the Quiet Room, for sake of trying to hook an agent’s interest) is set in Worcester, Massachusetts, the town in which I was born; a little bit in that venerable tourist attraction, Old Sturbridge Village, just down the street from where I grew up; and Cape Cod, a favorite vacation spot from my youth (and still). For each of the interminable drafts I sat in my grandparent’s floor in a three decker on Hillside Street, wandered the muddy spring paths of Old Sturbridge Village, probably with a stick of rock candy in my hand, or sat with my back against the dunes down on Nauset Light Beach. Which is to say I use that feeling of homesickness to try and make the scenes that little bit more vivid, much like Dennis Lehane does and Joyce did with Ulysses (with far greater commercial and just plain old regular success).


Dennis Lehane is appearing at Listowel Writers’ Week, which has an amazing lineup this year. If you’re in the area at the end of May you really shouldn’t miss it. Tell Anne Enright I sent you.

A little taste of home

Everyone’s a Critic

Everyone’s a critic, even the Post Office, it seems:

Tough Critics at the Post Office

Tough Critics at the Post Office

I’ll bet this same thing happened to The Crying of Lot 49, as well, only much, much worse.

“I miss Dunkin Donut”

Michael Joyce, he of the “no longer maintaining a web presence” fame (oh, and afternoon, a story, and Twilight, a Symphony, The Sonatas of Saint Francis, and Going the Distance, and, and and), once compared my latest novel to Haruki Murakami (“Murakami in Massachusetts,” specifically).

Am attempt to cope without a real Dunks

Am attempt to cope without a real Dunks

Well, I’ve yet to start an agony uncle column/website like Murakami, but I have to say, having read some of his advice (from an article in the Washington Post), I feel a new kinship with the author.

The question is “Do you have any cafe chains you like to go to?” To which Murakami answers, in part:

I miss Dunkin Donut.

Oh me too, Mr. Murakami, me too.

“Why We Fight” in The Players’ Tribune

Brandon Prust, an enforcer for the Habs (boooo), has written an article for The Players’ Tribune with his take on how fighting still fits into the game.

As you may know by now, Butterfly, a novel, my novel about an ex-enforcer trying (and failing) to live out his days peacefully, touches on a lot of the same emotions and reasoning that Prust goes through in his article.

Once the gloves fall off, everything else kind of fades away. You can’t hear the fans. You can’t hear the ref. It’s just silence. That’s the easy part. The tough part is the day leading up to the game when you know you’re going up against a tough guy. You can’t help but think about it all day, and you go through a roller coaster of emotions.


So many of them, from Brandon, with this article, to Shawn Thornton, to George Parros, so many of them are so eloquent and articulate about the task of fighting for a living, they approach their job with such discipline and forethought, that I think they’re fascinating characters to follow for a book-length journey. Here’s hoping an agent thinks the same.

I’ve been delinquent in updating lately because there’s not much to update. Per my author scoreboard, I’ve got a bloop single in the form of a request for a full manuscript from one agent, a few rejections, and a handful of un-responses, which are possibly worse than rejections, once they remain non-responses after eight weeks or so.

In the meantime I’m at work on the next novel, tentatively titled “Ozymandias,” but it’s all still notebooks and 5 a.m. wakeup calls on that front, which is hardly thrilling stuff.

So sit tight, have a cup of tea or two, and I’m sure I’ll have something good for you soon. After all, I still have to write up my meeting with David Mitchell, my visit from the Dalai Lama, a scuba diving excursion to Des Moines, and playing ping pong with Ghengis Khan’s great-great-great-great grand daughter’s best friend Timmy.