Tag Archives: novel

Weekly Goals for 11/26

It seems like quite a long time has passed since my last update, hasn’t it? Well, it’s right back into the swing of things with writing and more writing, though the goal this week doesn’t actually include as much writing as in previous weeks. What I want to do over the next few days is to finally put an ending on Eyes of Diamond, Hair of Gold. As of right now, I’m very close to the ending, possibly within just a few thousand words, and I’m working to wrap up all the loose ends of the story.

I’m really happy with how this novel’s gone. The story has come together how I wanted it to and I’ve managed to flesh out the parts of this book as a mystery and as sequel that I’d hoped to improve upon from the first Allison Newberry mystery. With a little luck, I’ll be able to start editing and fixing by next week!

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Filed under Eyes of Diamond Hair of Gold, Mystery, Writing

Deadeye: Excerpt #1

~Tales from the Campfire~

“It was…maybe seven years ago,” Lina said as the group sat around the campfire, “back when I was working as a freelance bounty hunter. I was chasing a mark near New Paulson. I thought he’d try to hide in the city somewhere, but he just kept going north, all the way into the Red Forest. I’d heard stories about the place, about strange creatures and mysterious incidents and whatnot. Didn’t really put much stock in them back then, though. So, I followed him. Until you actually see the Red Forest with your own eyes, you really can’t appreciate it.

“There’s trees are far as you can see, millions of them. Only they aren’t green like in the old pictures, they’re red. As red as fire. When the wind blows through the forest, you can hear all those red leaves rustle and the trunks groan as they bend. There’s nothing I can think of to describe the feeling I got just being in that place for a few hours. I ended up following him for two days, probably didn’t sleep a bit during that time. Couldn’t even bear to close my eyes. Finally, I came upon his camp. And him.” Her voice got quiet, then, just a whisper. They all leaned in close to hear her.

“He’d been torn to shreds. It was so bad that I was only able to recognize him by the remains of his clothes. Something got to him. Something big and something mean and he was still warm so it hadn’t been gone for more than an hour. I listened, for a long time I just listened, but all I ever heard was the rustling of those leaves in the wind.”

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Obsessed with an Idea

Exactly seven years ago tomorrow, I wrote a free-form poem called Iron Town. The basic idea and image of the poem was of an industrial nightmare, a city of rust and decay and pollution where haggard workers toiled day in and day out without purpose or joy. In a word, bleak. During this period, it was contrasted by the City of Crystal, a metropolitan dream filled with glass towers and blue skies. But Iron Town was the end result of that particular story. Around the same time, I also wrote a short story, as part of a series of connected stories, that touched upon the fall of the City of Crystal as it collapsed into Iron Town, the City of Rust. As in the story, it was the image of Iron Town, and what it stood for, that stuck with me.

Not long after this I began an attempt to write a story about Iron Town, taking the name of the city as the name of the story. It carried on the industrial nightmare theme, taking on the idea that Iron Town was beginning to die as all the available resources in the area were rapidly running out. The story centered around a young factory worker, who dreams of leaving his dangerous job, and Iron Town, behind. But the catch is that no one ever leaves Iron Town. This story never went beyond three pages and a simple idea. In the shuffle of other stories, it was eventually lost and forgotten.

Four years passed as I worked on other things, mainly The Martian Empire Trilogy. Having finished that trilogy, I started working on some short stories. One of those stories was called The Blasted Lands, which will appear in my short-story collection, Fragments of Mind. The bulk of the action in the story takes place in Iron Town, which rests amid a vast desert land. This time, however, the city was no longer an industrial nightmare, but rather a city of strange monsters and horrible curses; bloat, avarice, and excess abounded there. Far more fitting a fantasy story than something resembling modern day. But the basic idea was the same. Dark, depressing, and dangerous.

After writing a number of short stories, I began work on a new novel, which I called The Jester and the Thief. In the story, a young, exiled prince escapes from a prison in Iron Town with the aid of a crazy old man. Iron Town, however, despite appearing early on, faded away after the first few chapters. In looking back at the finished story, I lamented that it had gone too far afield from the original idea, which was to focus on Iron Town and its bizarre peculiarities. In the end, I put the story aside. However, the basic concept, characters, and world remained.

Several novels later, I began working on a new novel, borrowing liberally from The Jester and the Thief. I called it Between Sand and Sky. I kept the exiled prince, the crazy old man, the beautiful but strange princess, and the assassin. I kept Iron Town. I kept the great desert waste where the city itself was located. I kept the story of the prince searching for the men responsible for his exile. But a lot of things changed. Rather than an escape from Iron Town, Between Sand and Sky was a search for Iron Town. By this time, the more fantastical elements of Iron Town had fallen away, leaving me with something that was much more realistic and, in a way, much more sinister.

More recently, as in just a few months ago, I laid the foundation for a new novel called City of Crystal, City of Rust. As of this moment, there’s really nothing more than a vague idea and an opening paragraph. The thought I have with this is to either retell or write a sequel to The Blasted Lands, focusing on the story of The Traveler and his dealings with the aptly-named City of Rust.

In writing this post, it became even more clear to me that Iron Town and what it stands for is the most enduring theme in my writing. But why? I think its because Iron Town, in all its many appearances, always represents one very simple concept: the sum total of the worst of humanity. People who are absorbed in their own pursuits without a care for anyone else, the turning of a blind eye to the suffering of others, rampant disease and poverty, torture and slavery, and the terrible irony of urban isolation. All the characters who enter Iron Town have to somehow survive its many horrors, but are often changed by their experience regardless.

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Filed under Between Sand and Sky, Fantasy, Fragments of Mind, Short Story, The Martian Empire Trilogy, Writing

Sneak Preview: The Eminence of Bardon Roket

See Bardon Roket, his legs dangling over the edge of the Anderson Arms apartment building with the street some six hundred feet below the soles of his shoes. He has made a determination, which he is currently quite proud of having made. His determination is that it is time to put away the childish, simplisticly self-serving pursuits of the child and to occupy himself with pursuits far more fitting of one who has passed beyond that brief, pointless phase.

Yet Bardon Roket is indeed a child. This fact is beyond dispute, as can be clearly ascertained by his soft, boyish features, scraggly blonde hair in desperate need of proper cutting, and diminutive stature. Anyone, upon seeing Bardon, would immediately determine that he is a child, and his birth certificate would certainly bear this out. However, this mere cursory observation, regardless of all objective evidence in support, would provide the viewer with no insight into the mind of Bardon Roket, which is a complex thing indeed. And it is this mind which makes all the difference.

——————–

Quite a change from the gloominess of Murder at the End of the World, huh? But that’s okay, sometimes you just want to read something fun.

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Filed under Satire, The Eminence of Bardon Roket, Writing

Retrospective: Writing “Murder at the End of the World”

Murder at the End of the World was born from a single idea: “I want to write a British-style mystery like the kinds that Agatha Christie wrote.” Shortly before I started writing the story, I got caught up in a phase of watching BBC’s adaptation of the Hercule Poirot series. I’d also watched a bit of Granada’s excellent Sherlock Holmes series from the 80’s and 90’s. They reminded me all over again of just why I so enjoyed watching a good mystery. I like the way all the clues and evidence are built up, the way things are complicated by red herrings and witnesses that have their own agendas, and then watching as the skilled detective slowly fits everything together and exposes the murder. So I decided to write my own.

Setting

Part of what makes a great setting is how it feeds into the mystery. I knew from the start that I wanted the setting to play a huge role in the mystery and to almost be a character of its own. I’ve always enjoyed the works of HP Lovecraft, so I borrowed a few bits of inspiration from his work and went with an isolated city by the sea. The town itself is awash in mystery, as few people know very much about it. The city’s nature also leads its people to be very insular and suspicious, almost to the point of being openly hostile to outsiders. They’re not evil people, but their view of the outside worlds has led them to view the appearance of outsiders in their streets as invaders into their private world. Like if you woke one night to find a stranger standing in your living room. You’d want that person gone as soon as possible, even if their intentions weren’t bad.

Character

Of course, without characters there’s really not much of a story. With Allison Newberry, I didn’t want a character who was basically a skilled super-genius that was going to swoop in and solve the mystery in a flash. Allison is young and inexperienced, this is her first real case and she’s not entirely confident that things are going to turn out well. Even so, she’s got a good head on her shoulders, good instincts, and determination. A murder has been committed, that means someone has to be brought in to answer for the crime. A lot of this comes from her experience with her father, as the story eventually reveals. Though he doesn’t not appear in the story itself, his influence on her is clear. Allison does what needs to be done, even when no one else cares.

Mystery

This leads us to the mystery itself. This is the most difficult part of the whole affair, because you need something that’s not immediately obvious and interesting enough to hold your reader’s interest until the very end. It would have been easy to go with a straight-forward murder mystery with a set of clues that led to the killer, but I was determined to avoid something that simple. Obviously I don’t want to give anything away here, but my goal from the start was to use a mystery that becomes deeper and more complex the further along Allison’s investigation goes. Nothing is simple in Illdara, as one of the characters says. How very true that is.

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Filed under Murder at the End of the World, Mystery, Writing