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Part Two: Getting the Inside Scoop from Robert Rotenberg, Author of "Old City Hall"

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And of course, now that they are getting older, they see an opportunity in all this. Last year my oldest son Peter, living the full teenager rock-and-roll life, discovered a band he loved. "Hey dad," Mr. Charming said to me one day, his green eyes twinkling. "How do you feel about taking me and Dave and Dene to a Wintersleep concert?" Upon moderate cross-examination I learned the following facts: the concert was in Hamilton, about an hour away. It started at eleven o'clock and would end 'about' two (read: three, if you're lucky). Before I could protest, he said: "Dad, you'll love it. You can write for four hours!"

So...if you ever happen to be in Hamilton, Ontario from eleven p.m. to four in the morning, drop me a line. I can tell you the following: there's a nice Starbucks up on the hill, with a plug, where you can write until midnight. Then, there's a good coffee shop downtown, slightly trendy with comfortable chairs, that's open until one. From one until three, you are stuck in a Tim Horton's, a chain that is usually not bad. This one's a bit seedy, but the lighting's good.

Looks like I answered your question backwards. Yes I wrote, and re-wrote Old City Hall for years. I believe in re-writing. Editing. Cutting. Cleaning the language. When the book finally came out, it was great to hear it as a book on tape. (Here's another hint: driving, avoid the radio and yakking away to your friend on your cell phone headset. Listen to books on tape, or better, speak to your fictional friends. I've worked out some of my best dialogue while driving, talking away to myself. Now, at least with everyone else on headsets, I don't look quite so crazy.) After a few chapters of listening to the book, I found myself hearing little flaws. Damn, I didn't need that adverb. Cut that adjective. Oh no, two paragraphs in a row start with "he." Before the trade paperback was released by Picador, I combed through the manuscript and made more than a hundred little changes.

There's no point in doing this, unless you do it as well as you possibly can.

So, I guess what you're saying is that you love it but it's a lot of hard work. Were you satisfied with the finished product this time around? And what did you like best about Old City Hall ?

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