Sunday, May 11, 2014

Process? I'm supposed to be able to PROCESS?

Last week, Sue London generously invited me to participate in a bloghop about my writing. I know I’ve fallen behind on everything the past couple of weeks, but I was determined to apply the crop smartly, tuck and roll, and lurch back into gear in a bold melange of happy mixed metaphors! So here goes.

1. what am I working on?
Currently, I am heading into the second act on my serial steampunk novel, Autumnheart (which I’ve been offering on my storyblog as I write it, in an experiment to see if I can stay far enough ahead of myself); also a dark-comedic horror novel, Wendigogo. One or the other of them (dare I hope both?) WILL be finished this year, no matter what!

Also, editing The Haberdashers series more...when Sue finishes Robert’s book! And my new association with the insanely brilliant (and possibly, delightfully insane) love of my life, Scott, promises a burst of creativity and very likely collaboration, as he’s an astounding author among other things. No, you haven’t heard of him (unless you've recorded music in Hotlanta). You will. Ohhh... *evil chortle* you will.

2. how does my work differ from others of its genre?
Autumnheart is steampunk less reliant on mechanical marvels (though there are a few coming in, especially once the war factory really gets rolling) than character relationships. Sure, there are a few conventions strolling through its pages: mad science, Victorian social mores, actual history woven into sheer fiction. There’s also a healthy mongrelizing dose of dark fantasy, political corruption and rebellion, sexism and prejudice of the era tempered by protagonists rising above these smog-laden clouds.

Wendigogo started out as comic horror but is veering into darker territory...funny, but in the way that the original “American Werewolf in London” is funny. Although it's bloody, it's unpretentious, a bit silly in premise, and it certainly doesn't feel like either straightforward shock-horror or comedy-forward work. Ultimately, it may be compared to the old saw about life handing you lemons...except the hero may decide the best way to deal with that is to be the blender.

3. why do I write what I do?
It amuses me. It lifts me. It’s goddamn fun! Granted, I hope it's commercially successful, once it’s polished. (Insert .gif of Sam Sykes mouthing BUY MY BOOK here...) But I wouldn’t even be bothering with these genres if I didn’t enjoy reading them as much as writing them. I grew up feeding voraciously on darker tomes. Then my parents took “The King in Yellow” away and banished the Undergrubs, and although my life was substantially less entertaining, at least the neighborhood fauna was safe to come out of hiding again. However, my gaping soul was then free to be filled with the likes of Bradbury, Poe, Bierce, and Shel Silverstein. I have no illusions about matching the masters. I’m just having fun writing what I want to write.

4. how does my writing process work?
Ideally, well after dark, I set up my laptop on my bed, with a drink at hand and usually a nom of some kind. (Rarely alcohol; my drunk writing is for shit. Screw you, Hemingway.) I pull up notes and photo references, and start my playlist over my headphones. I reread the last chapter at least; if it’s been more than a couple of days, I’ll skim back through the story, especially scenes pertinent to what I’ll be tackling next. Then it’s crack the knuckles, pet the badger skull for luck, zone out in the music and off to the races!

Ungh. Erk. Edits. Grammar. BWAAAHHHH!

I dislike formal outlines, but I do make extensive plot notes, which helps me keep track of the cast as I begin moving them around the board more. I have ultimate motivations and objectives of the major players in mind at all times, but remembering just how I intended them to clash or resolve is easier with notes! Right now, for Autumnheart, I have several files of tidbits of Victorian history from the 1860s-1880s, a ton of Oregon and Portland-specific history, research on several real persons of the era in the Pacific Northwest, and photos, photos, photos. Oh, also notes on giant squid, planetary catastrophe on an extinction-level scale, steam and early electrical technology, and lolcats. Because F.U. I like lolcats.

Bloghop RSVP
Continuing the chain letter to the next four people who must write a blog post using these questions or suffer a rain of frogs for the next forty days (and believe me, though that sounds cool, after day twelve you’re thinking Fuck, there just really aren’t enough ways to cook frogs), I hereby pass the torch to:

1. Troy Blackford: author of "Booster & Reeves: Night of the Revenants", an insanely good zombie story AND Jeeves & Wooster parody; Strange Way Out; and numerous other novels and short stories. I once traded him a signed copy of his novel Critical Incident (and a gruesome fictional death in another book) for some Joe Hill ephemera.

2. Sabrina Zbasnik: talented comic fantasy author ("Terrafae"; Dwarves in Space) and gifted painter of haunted trees. If you’re not following her on Twitter, you are seriously missing out. The snark levels in her everyday commentary have destroyed three Soviet Geiger counters already.

3. Rick Gualtieri: he of Bill the Vampire fame (Sunset Strip; Hunting Bigfoot; et alias). Recently, also has proven his mettle in single combat versus the Deep Ones in his cellar plumbing.

4. Derek Springer: host of The Ugly Couchcast, humor author, appreciator of fine Lego art. More twisted than he appears.

Their entries to be up before or on the following Monday (the 19th). I’ll post links to theirs in the comments for this entry once they’re up. *readies batches of Colorado river toads for delivery*