I’ve written less than half of my third novel, but I have a clear idea of what I’m aiming to do, and I’ve been getting better at my elevator pitch every time I do it.

But until today, I’d never delivered it in a real elevator. I’m more of a climbing-the-stairs person.

Yesterday, at the Mill Valley Library, however, where I’m occasional participant in the library’s twice-weekly writing salon, I was talking with two newcomers, both therapists, as we left the meeting room. One punched the button for the elevator. I had a momentary urge to say goodbye and do my self-righteous thing of taking the stairs. But then he asked me about the novel I’m working on. I said it was about euthanasia. They both seemed interested. The elevator doors opened. We walked in. 

“Well, here’s my elevator pitch,” I said, as the doors closed. “Let’s see if I can do it in two floors. The protagonist is a therapist. His father has cancer and dementia and wants his son to help him end his life. The son refuses at first, then agrees, and then his sister accuses him of murder at their father’s memorial. What follows is a high-profile public fight between the death-with-dignity crowd on the one hand and the right-to-lifers on the other, with each sibling the reluctant front person.”

The elevator was slow, so I finished just as the doors opened and let us out in the children’s library. My two elevator-mates each said something positive about my pitch, though I don’t remember the words they used.

“The hard part,” I added, as we turned the corner into the main library, “is making the book not be morbid. The last time I made my pitch, to an old friend I hadn’t seen in some time, she said, ‘I’ll think I’ll pass on that one.’”

(Here’s a draft of the first chapter.)

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