2012-12-14 / People

Neighbors

Musician and, now, published novelist
By Tracy Orzel
Staff Writer


Kennebunk resident Dana Pearson got the inspiration for his mystery novel, “Two Birds,” 10 years ago while listening to the radio. The plot revolves around a high-stakes basketball game that had to be called early due to a mysterious power outage. (Tracy Orzel photo) Kennebunk resident Dana Pearson got the inspiration for his mystery novel, “Two Birds,” 10 years ago while listening to the radio. The plot revolves around a high-stakes basketball game that had to be called early due to a mysterious power outage. (Tracy Orzel photo) KENNEBUNK – Dana Pearson hurried to make a pot of tea. He was running late this particular morning because he had been playing with his band at One Dock in Kennebunkport the night before.

Pearson has been playing bass and guitar for The Wetsuits, a pop rock band from York County, for the past three years, but that’s not why he was being interviewed.

Pearson’s book, “Two Birds” is the first he has had published.

If he wasn’t a fiction writer, Pearson said he’d probably focus on his music: writing songs, playing the guitar and bass. Still, that’s a big “if.”


Including rewrites, it took Kennebunk resident Dana Pearson one year to write “Two Birds.” The novel will be available at Kennebooks, Marlows, Longfellow Books and on Amazon.com. (Cover art by Zachary O’Brien/Red Skies Publishing) Including rewrites, it took Kennebunk resident Dana Pearson one year to write “Two Birds.” The novel will be available at Kennebooks, Marlows, Longfellow Books and on Amazon.com. (Cover art by Zachary O’Brien/Red Skies Publishing) The book, which is being released by independent publisher, Red Skies Publishing, based in Manhattan, has been a decade in the making.

Pearson got the idea for the plot 10 years ago, when he was listening to National Public Radio.

“They talked about this college basketball game that was being played out in Vegas, where you can bet on games, and lots of money was riding on this college game,” said Pearson.

The team favored to win was losing. While the game was in progress, the power unexpectedly went out and the game was called.

“Of course, all the conjecture was the mob must have had something to do with it because they were going to be losing loads of money on this game. So I thought that was a good idea to start the story.”

Set in Phoenix, the story features two men, one investigating a missing Georgia O’Keeffe painting and another investigating the power outage, whose paths converge halfway through.

Though Pearson wouldn’t classify the book as a comedy, he said there is a vein of dark humor that runs through it.

In fact, if it wasn’t for a stroke of luck, the final product might have been very different.

The Kennebunk Free Library occasionally holds lotteries for books. Patrons purchase tickets and place them in glass jars to win a stack of books, usually all the same genre or by the same author.

By chance, Pearson bought a ticket and placed it in a jar for author Dashiell Hammett, who penned detective novels in the first half of the 20th century.

“That was a huge influence in how the book was written. If I hadn’t gotten Dashiell Hammett’s stuff, it may have (been written) more as a comedy. It could have been even more hardboiled,” said Pearson.

Although Pearson said he wanted to be a writer growing up, it wasn’t until he took his first creative writing courses at Gettysburg College that he wrote his first comic short stories.

After Pearson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English, he took odd jobs as a waiter, bank teller, substitute and worked at a garden nursery. However, what Pearson really wanted to be was a novelist.

“But you can’t exactly go apply for a job as a novelist,” said Pearson with a laugh.

While he doesn’t know where the inspiration came from, in 1994, Pearson wrote a few observational columns.

Not knowing what to do with them, Pearson’s wife, Diane, suggested he take them to the editor of the York County Coast Star.

Pearson had great timing. the Star was in the market for a columnist.

The following year he was hired as a full-time reporter.

Pearson said he was really able to hone his writing skills during the time he worked at the Star.

“I would not have been able to write the novels I have if I hadn’t been working at the paper,” said Pearson. “It would have taken me even longer to get anything done because it got me into the habit of writing and you really don’t become a better writer unless you’re constantly writing and constantly reading.”

Pearson considers himself lucky. When he left the Star as the assistant editor in 2007, his wife, an elementary school principal, suggested he stay home to concentrate solely on his writing.

Pearson has written several other novels, none of which have been published.

He began his first, “The Muralist” in 1997.

Pearson caught the attention of a literary agent who sent “The Muralist” to large publishing houses such as Random House, Knopf, Harper Collins and Scribner’s.

“While it got rejected by them, there was enough positive criticism about the books . . . the bottom line with them was that they didn’t see how they could market it because it was a quiet, character-driven book,” said Pearson, who added it gave him hope and made him realize that getting published wasn’t a pipe dream.

Pearson and his literary agent have since parted ways.

“It’s weird how one little thing leads to another. You can pick any one person or any one thing and say because of that, you’re here, but it’s altogether. If I didn’t get that useless BA in English, this wouldn’t be happening,” said Pearson.

Pearson’s book will be available at Kennebooks, Marlows, Longfellow Books, independent bookstores, online at www.redskiespublishing.com and on Amazon.com in the coming weeks.

Visit Pearson's website at www.danampearson.com .

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