Tag: the shining ones

Gothic Revival

I just finished the big re-write on Protector. Thank god. It’ll be winging its way over to Bev for a final read through before tumbling its way over to Amanda for the start of copy editing. So close now. I can almost taste it.

Meanwhile, my brain is incapable of stringing together sentences having just finished going through 280 some odd pages of angst, mayhem, and horror. So today’s blog is going to be rather chaotic and probably slightly all over the place. Bear with me.

First things first.

I’m obsessed with gothic horror right now. Not necessarily unusual. I did my degree in 18th century English literature with a focus on the gothic novel. Add being a former goth on top of that, and it all slots nicely into place. So no surprise there.

I’d sort of lost touch with my previous fascination with that genre, focusing more on fantasy and urban paranormal stuff in the last couple of years. That was my mindset when I’d started writing The Shining Ones series way back in 2010. I wasn’t so much caught up in the sublime or my novel’s setting being a character in itself or mad monks and falling down castles. I was more interested in mythos. More interested in building my own angel mythology from scratch based on two points of interest: Neil’s take on Lucifer Morningstar in the Sandman series and one of my favorite songs of all time, “For Her Light” by a band that still has a very special place in my heart, The Fields of the Nephilim.

But more recently, there has been a resurgence in gothic horror that is taking me back to that genre. Have a look at Del Toro’s trailer for Crimson Peak.

Yeah exactly. I got shivers watching it the first time. Tom Hiddleston and creepy haunted houses. I’m in. PJ Harvey doing Nick Cave? Could it get any better? I was already heading in that direction, but Del Toro’s ability to make beautiful, ethereal things just pushed my mind into creative overdrive.

And if that wasn’t enough, I also just got done reading this, Jack Thorn by Katherine Harbour.

jack thorn

I don’t normally get book envy – it takes a lot for me  to go there – but I was absolutely impressed with her book to the point where I was like, “No seventeen year old should know that much about celtic mythology and be able to weave it into an enticing story that doesn’t read like a history lesson.” It even caused me to stalk her on Twitter. If you haven’t read it, do so. I could probably write a whole blog post on her setting descriptions alone. Very nice stuff. You can also be like me and follow her on Twitter if you’re so inclined. Just go here.

So here’s my second bit to this blog post that I want to bring to the party:

I predict that 2015-16 will see a huge uptick in gothic/steampunk literature, movies, etc.

It’ll be a bit like what Twilight was to vampires and paranormal romance or The Hunger Games and the slew of dystopian novels that followed. It’s coming our way. (ed note – Gothic is different from Steampunk for those who want to be pedantic about it; there is a nuance between the two, but for argument’s sake, I’m going to lump them together.)

If you don’t believe me, take a look at Madonna’s new video that came out two days ago and try not to dry heave. I couldn’t. In fact, I got really really mad to the point that my husband laughed at me. If I could’ve reached through my monitor and bitch-slapped Madonna for yet again more shitty music AND ripping off yet another subculture’s much-loved and respected identity for her own piece of tripe I would’ve. Does she have no shame?

Seriously. Enough already, Madge. Go retire into that good night and leave the rest of us alone. If the Steampunkers wanted to light you on fire, I’d gladly hand them the matches.

Sorry. Did I just say that out loud?

I could list several more examples of why I think this trend is going to continue, but I just realized that I’ve just done a smack down on Madonna so I’ll stop while I’m ahead. I’m pretty tired.

If you can think of any other examples to share, let me know, and I’ll put them up here.

 

Kill Your Darlings

stick_figure

So I am in the midst of getting back on that horse. After a month away from my desk, I’m finally taking the plunge and here I sit. Back. In. The. Chair.

It feels good, mostly. I have missed my Herman Miller chair. I’d like to think it missed me, too, in its own way.

But the thing is that while I missed sitting here, I don’t miss the anxiety when it comes time to edit. By far the hardest part of the whole shindig, edits kick me in the gut every time. And on this book, it is no better than the last one.

Which is kinda surprising, I can’t lie. “Why?” you ask.

I will be truthful with you. Watcher was a rambling hot mess. Even after multiple edits and tear downs, it still was painfully awkward, hence, why I pulled it. I have to live with the nightmare that Neil Gaiman still has an original copy. If I am lucky, he will tease me one day about it, if not, well, that would almost be a bigger relief. That aside, it took a year of sitting on it, to stomach going back to it and ripping it apart some more. And in that painful process, I killed off 30K+ words and two major characters.

Which is the thrust of what I have to say next.

I learned big, painful lessons from that first book. The only thing that kept me going was the passion I had for those characters. And naivety and probably a hint of arrogance, too. But don’t get me wrong, those lessons, I kid you not, were like a million tiny papercuts all over my body and then being dropped into one of those dunk tanks filled with gallons of rubbing alcohol. Get the visual, right?

So when it came to Protector, I tried my best to learn from those mistakes. Cut down on over wordy descriptions, watch for narrative repetitions, keep that pacing tight, and whatever you do, stay away from new secondary characters. No really. Don’t do it. Remember Lamar Jackson? Or Amanda’s baby daddy reveal? Yeah, seriously, don’t even think about it.

The thing is I love characters like I like breathing. I like to inhale them, give them life, exhale them out nice and slow so that they come to life in a slow, glimmer. In my head, Tybee Island teems with all sorts of pedestrians from all walks of life. Each one has a story screaming to be let out. With all the noise in my head, some days, I’m surprised I get anything done.

But I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. Sigh. You know what’s coming don’t you?

I have inserted a secondary character, just the one mind you, that was going to play some serious havoc in Betrayer, the next book. I wasn’t sure that I really liked him, but he was creepy, and he had some odd physical attributes that would’ve stuck with my readers. And I’d just got done watching The Killing and was in love with Holder so that didn’t help either. I heard the warning bells, but I ignored them. It would be different this time. I would write him in from the beginning, slide him in insidiously into Paddy-life, make him stick, give him purpose. I swear that was the intention right up until I got to the first hot and heavy scene with Adam and Poesy and then it flew out the window.

I found that I’d written seven chapters and he’d disappeared off the face of the earth and like a complete idiot, instead of accepting that he was a goner, I went back and hacked him into a bunch of other scenes, punching that circle into that damn square like that made any sense.

Oh yeah, I made him work, but not work enough.

So here I sit almost eight weeks behind in my edit schedule , which I thought was going to be a breeze and now I have to rip him out and patch up the holes he’s left in the lives of my other characters. I’m not sure anyone will miss him except Haylee Jane, but the work is enough that I want to punch myself in the face.

I still sit here in my Herman Miller chair. But the work is just beginning.

 

When a Character Refuses to Die

knife

As anyone who follows me on Facebook knows, I’ve been busy this summer trying to finish the ending of Protector.

It’s been a huge struggle this time around, but Wednesday was a big day as I finally finished the re-write on the final chapter of the book. And anyone who finishes a book will tell you, it’s like that runners high – you thought you didn’t have it in you then all of a sudden, your energy kicks back in and the next thing you know you’ve crossed the finish line. It’s a great feeling and the relief of getting to the end is just . . . well . . . it’s just everything.

But even as I felt that relief, it wasn’t everything it could be because in a weird twist of fate, one of the characters that was supposed to die didn’t.

You heard me right – a character refused to die.

Now a lot of people will say, “Well, you’re the author of this creation, you’re like God, you choose who lives and dies so what’s the problem?”

Normally, I’d agree with you. I mean you hear of authors who in interviews say that their characters control what goes on like somehow they are real and the ones making the decisions. Many a time I have rolled my eyes at such talk, but the thing is, and I’m not bullshitting you, I couldn’t get this character to follow my directions. Try as I might, no matter how many times I tried to write his death (I’ve chosen the pronoun here so it’s not a spoiler), the damn character wouldn’t play along. Every word was clunky, every description horrible. It was like a big fat blot of horribleness sitting right in the middle of what is supposed to be one of the most gripping scenes of the book.

Tried a different angle. Didn’t work. Tried again, trying not to trample over some prose that I absolutely adored, but still no good. No matter which way I handled it, this character’s death just wouldn’t fit into the scene the way I’d wanted it to. So I gave up.

But the thing is, this non-dead character now changes the next book, Betrayer, alot and I mean A LOT. All of sudden, I have a big complication on my hands and it changes every character’s relationship with one another. The thing this character has seen, the things he knows . . . it impacts all the major characters in ways that I’m sure I still don’t understand.

And is that okay? Am I making a mistake in not forcing this character to die an awful, horrible death like what was planned for him? I don’t know. It’s kind of scary, but I guess I’m going to say “The hell with it,” and hope it’s the right decision.

So congratulations character, well played. You get to live to see another day . . . for now.

 

Odyssey, a short story, & other epiphanies

Hello fans and friends,

It is Friday, which means blog day.

After several weeks of distractions including a lovely trip from our UK family, I’m getting back up on that horse we call writing. Spring is just about gone, the sweltering days of a hot, humid Virginia summer are touching down upon us and I’m about to get trapped back inside my house with the A/C cranked up on high. Although it seems bad, this is a good thing. The two extremes of the year are probably the only time that I get anything done writing-wise so I look forward to a prolific summer of getting Watcher re-edited and back out in the public sector as well as getting through the final push on Protector (fall release, fingers crossed).

That, of course, means I have a few announcements.

The first one makes me a little sad. For those who don’t know, I got waitlisted for Odyssey – one of the top residential SF/Fantasy workshops in the country. I had hoped that there was one poor soul who would not be able to go so that a space would be freed up for me, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. The May 24th deadline has come and gone and I am now in Virginia for the summer. My short story based on Roxanne by the Police is now up in the Mixtape Collection if you’d like to read it – it’s the story that I submitted with my application.

So poo.

In different news, like a boomerang flung once but comes back again, I’ve decided to continue to go indie and NOT query for an agent for The Shining Ones series. I know, I know, can I just make up my mind already, right?

The thing is that it just doesn’t make sense to try to go the traditional publisher route these days. Not only is it hard to get a deal, but the deal you get is probably so disadvantageous that you wonder why you thought it was a good idea in the first place. Seriously. The ideal situation is probably being a hybrid author meaning that you get a publishing deal for hard copy only,  leaving you the author in charge of digital. Cause frankly, if you can do the numbers yourself via ebook why would you then turn it over to get less money?

It just doesn’t make sense. Plus, if you get the numbers on your own then the likelihood is that you can leverage your platform or brand in a better deal with publishers if you have a proven hit. See, I know how to throw the lingo around, too. I’m halfway there . . .

So, I lost about a year with my flip flopping decision and many nights thinking that the only way I could be validated is with a deal . . . I have since changed my mind. I’d rather just write and get stuff out there and not wait years to see my stuff in print. Either my fans will love it or hate it and that’s what truly matters.

This will be good news for most – you’ll get your wish for Protector this year.

xo

shawnee