Sunday, April 18, 2010

missed deadline

There was a contest that ended 4/15. A short story on a theme, 3500 words. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?


I usually do well with themes. All of my short stories grew out of some kind of theme. Chasing His Own Tale was supposed to be humorous and SF/F. Okay, not much as themes go, but it was

Buy it now, you know you want to.

my first one and I like to think I rose to the challenge. Speaking of challenges, one of the few fruits of my painful attempts to describe my latest novel (St. Martin’s Moon, I talk a lot about it over here) is that I got a great new short story out of it, called…wait for it…Chasing His Own Tale 2! Clever, no?


Actually it’s called Struck by Inspiration. It was called The Inevitable Sequel but like everything else this title just popped up out of the blue and smacked me.

That same year (the CHOT year, not the CHOT2 year) I discovered the PARSEC contest, the same one that just ended for the year today. That first time around the theme was Hard Port, and I ended up writing my Cyber-piracy story, Boys Will Be Boys.

Buy it now, you--wait, I said that already.

I think I’ve talked about this one before though, and you know how I feel about repeating myself. The PARSEC contest comes up with some wierd themes. The year after Hard Port it was Instruments of Madness. I actually had an idea about three people each of whom uses an ‘instrument of madness’ in some interpretation, against one of the others. One of these days.

My story Ex Libris came out of a PARSEC contest (‘Metallic Feathers’), as did Undermind (‘Dark Glass’), which has not yet been published anywhere. The Dark Glass theme actually gave me several ideas. One of these days.
This year’s theme was The Color of Silence, kind of an odd choice. I thought of a planet called Silence, a sword called Silence, and even a newly dead spirit, composing Haikus about the glories of Heaven, cast in colors of silence or some such. Souls unfurled like wings. In fact, the sword called Silence is a central prop in my new short story, Chasing His Own Tale 3: Have At Thee, Knaves!
I do well with themes. Too well. I get so many ideas I can’t get them all down. It’s a problem to have.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Universal appeal

For me, the werewolf has always been the Universal werewolf, poor Lawrence Talbot getting bit, turning into a wolf, and finding to his horror that even death wasn’t enough to save him from his curse, the curse of infinite Hollywood sequels. It came as something of a surprise to me to find out that there even was another lore about werewolves, back when I first encountered the novel Xxxx Xxxx by Xxx Xxxxxxx. In that book he presents four other legends, if I recall correctly, none of which had anything to do with bites or full moons. In fact he was rather caustic about Universal and the movies, which kind of annoyed me. I loved the old Universal monsters, even if they were constantly coming back from the dead for no known reason. Van Helsing, rebooting the whole franchise, so to speak, is one of my favorite movies.
So when I got around to writing my own werewolf novel, it was only natural I turn to the Universal model. Instead of lifelong curses or magic belts, it has people, cursed bites, and all the drama-y pathos and angst which I, as a character-driven reader and author, most care about. And in case you’re wondering, I did get around to writing a werewolf novel.

The original idea for St. Martin’s Moon came to me in a bookstore, where I saw a book with the title ‘Blood Moon’, and I thought, “Hey cool, a werewolf attack on a lunar colony!” (I actually did think that, by the way.) Of course it wasn’t, but then I thought, “Hey! I’m a writer. I can do that.” Really.

It wasn’t that easy, though. I don’t write horror, I write people, and for the story to work for me I had to figure out a way to hopefully cure these guys. Until and unless the money rolls in on this one, in which case I’ll have to think of something clever real quick. In any case, I didn’t figure out what was going on with this story until about two weeks after I’d finished writing it. Thank God for word processors.

It is in every other way a classic werewolf story, with a hero who does nothing, werewolves as a victimized underclass, and the most effective person in the story has been dead for four years. And of course it answers the most important question of all: Why the Moon?
No, I’m not going to tell you now.