“You don’t know too many people who dream of something all their lives and it comes true,” says author Selden Edwards on the publication of his second novel, The Lost Prince. Edwards is referring to himself, and the dream that he mentions — of becoming a successful fiction writer — is something that happened to him after retirement. That’s when his first novel, The Little Book, went from being a lifelong project (begun in 1974, it was not finished until 2007) to the subject of a publisher’s bidding war, and finally, a New York Times–listed best-seller. Both The Little Book and The Lost Prince, volumes one and two of a projected trilogy, proceed from the premise that Wheeler Burden, Harvard baseball hero, philosopher, and rock star, has the ability to travel back from California in 1988 to Vienna, Austria, circa 1897. The action that follows from this rent in the fabric of time brings together such historical figures as Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, and William James with the Burden clan, who are strictly the product of Edwards’ remarkable imagination.
Of course, when your first book takes more than 30 years to write, you could be forgiven for phoning in the second, but Edwards is clearly not built that way. “Right after Dutton bought The Little Book, I came up with the idea for a trilogy, and I got going immediately on this sequel,” he told me. “I put two and a half years of energy into it, and, as you know, second books are notoriously difficult things to complete, so it was a real challenge.”
In The Lost Prince, the philosopher William James acts as a guardian for Eleanor, who must live with the time-defying secret at the core of the trilogy. “I did a PhD at Pacifica in the late 1990s,” Edwards said, “and I’m incredibly grateful for my time there, which allowed me to delve not only into James but also into the works of Carl Jung, who became another of the major characters in this book.”
With all due respect to Jung, here’s to dreams — deferred but not denied. Selden Edwards will be signing The Lost Prince at Chaucer’s Books (3321 State St.) on Wednesday, August 22, at 7 p.m. Call 682-4067 or visit seldenedwards.com for info.