Midlife Mouse is a Southern fantasy, a pop-culture satire and a study in the nature of fandom. It is an invented mythology of The Most Magical Place on Earth and a bit of old-fashioned, Disneyesque wish fulfillment. It’s a novel with a long gestation, all beginning with a simple family holiday.
Several years ago, my family and I visited Disney World for the holidays. I hadn’t been to the parks in more than two decades, and the experience not only evoked memories of my own childhood, but also allowed me to see it through my then five-year-old daughter’s eyes. I know all the cynical thoughts people have about Disney World and their constant money grab, but I chose to ignore those aspects and simply immerse myself in the vaunted Disney “magic.”
In the following months, whenever life would get stressful, I found myself thinking how much I wished I could get back to the blissful innocence of that trip. It became and in-joke between my daughter and me that we were going to “run away to Disney World.” Not only that, I became obsessed with all things Disney and how much the world’s largest media conglomerate is the result of one man’s uncompromising vision. Meanwhile, I felt that my own vision was being squandered on simply making a living. The disillusionment of struggling with how to best use my God-given talents (however limited) mixed with a wistful longing for the faux-finish idealism of Walt’s world to become the genesis of Midlife Mouse.
I shared with an old friend some of my pie-in-the-sky ideas for becoming a novelist – if my busy life would ever allow me to pursue that dream. That friend then started a Facebook group called “I think Wayne Franklin should write his novel now.” About a hundred or so friends joined. The pressure was on. I started writing.
After writing in fits and starts over several months (and a brief flirtation with an imprint of a Big Six publisher), I dedicated the summer of 2010 to being a full-time novelist. No, I haven’t yet gotten a check for my endeavors, but it was most definitely a full-time job. In fact, my days writing looked an awful lot like some of my days editing TV projects: long and longer. The book finally came in at 27 chapters and roughly 96,000 words – most of which I wrote over that two-month period.
Once I finished the manuscript, the decision lay before me: follow a traditional publishing model or self-publish? For a year or so, I tried (albeit not very aggressively) to find the right agent for the project. During that time, I was learning a good deal about the revolution occurring in self-publishing. No longer was it the “vanity publishing” of old. Traditional publishers had lost touch with new technologies and new financials models.
So, I could spend another year or two looking for that right agent who would take a chance on a quirky novel about Southern life, Disney history and the nature of fandom – unlikely – and then take a small fraction of an exorbitant sales price for a book that wouldn’t exactly garner a publishing house’s A-game. Or I could take a sizable percentage of a lower sales price and bring my own A-game to finding and reaching my audience. Call me stubbornly independent, but I chose the latter.
Back to our original question: what exactly is a Midlife Mouse? To best answer that, read About the Story.
And in case you have some burning interest to know more about me, read About the Author.