So. My first novel, Good As Dead, will be out this September. In the weekly countdown to its release, I'll post tidbits and extras about the story. You can also follow along through my author page on Facebook. For now, here's what it's actually about:
Seventeen-year-old Nina Belmonte knows her way around death; as the daughter of wolf witches lost in a magical catastrophe when she was just a baby, she grew up used to fighting on her own, tooth and claw. But her new next-door neighbor is something she’s never met, something that shouldn’t exist. He’s a vampire; vicious, cunning, and determined to hunt her down and suck her dry.
Nina knows she can’t beat him alone, but the only person willing to believe her is Gideon, a young renegade agent as mysterious as the magictech organization he once worked for. Despite the danger, his presence lights up her heart with hope—and maybe something more.
Death comes for everyone, but Nina never gives up without a fight. And if she and Gideon can’t hold off the vampire’s teeth, she’ll lose everything—her family, her chance at love, and her life.
All in all, it took me ten months to write this beast, and the draft as it stands is fairly strong, since I wrote a detailed outline and was able to stick with it. As for why I wrote it, well, I felt frustrated with what I found during a YA paranormal romance reading spree. Frustrated with werewolves societies revolving around the alpha male concept, frustrated with vampires not being repulsive motherfuckers, frustrated with reading love interests that stalked and tried to control the heroine while the text deemed their actions romantic. Frustrated with boys being the dangerous monsters, and girls being the ~soothing music~ to tame their wild ways.
So, essentially: for selfish reasons! I didn't want to fix the genre, I simply wanted to play with it and see if it's really so impossible to write a YA paranormal romance that isn't Twilight regurgitated. Now, that's not saying I did a good job; it's very likely I simply fucked up in other ways, or wrote a completely boring story instead. But it was extremely rewarding to do, and (mostly) fun for all that the story itself is quite dark.
Next step: revising the draft.
Stats for chapter eighteen:
Word count: 4,772
Days it took to write: 9
Music listened to while writing it: The Sleepy Hollow soundtrack, Hole, and Amber Asylum
This leaves the manuscript just shy of 89,000 words. As long as I keep the final version under 100K, I'll be very happy.
Stats for chapter seventeen:
Word count: 3,525
Days it took to write: 7
Music listened to while writing it: Blonde Redhead, Scarling, and Mahavatar.
Stats for chapter sixteen:
Word count: 6,707
Days it took to write: seventeen
Music listened to while writing it: massive amounts of Amber Asylum, Opeth, Made Out of Babies, and Fever Ray
Would you like to be on the writing filter?
A bag of walnuts
( Once upon a time, I read from a list of recommended YA paranormal romance novels... )
The list of prompts:
Scary torture nightclub
Festive levitating gala
Comedic supernatural love-interest
Extraterrestrial freaky orchestra
Secret mid-century painting
No idea when I'll complete them, other than imposing a deadline of "before Halloween," but I already have some interesting ideas...
But of course that means choosing a story idea first. The strongest contenders so far are:
Story 1. Dark fantasy (and Red Riding Hood retelling) about a young werewolf named Katydid who, after losing her pack to sickness, travels through an otherworld forest to find Granny Wolf, a divine being who may be able to bring her loved ones back from the dead. If she doesn't first decide to eat Katydid, anyway. There's also a huntress with two wolfhounds after her tail, and a woodsman she keeps running into with a haunted past and a sharp ax.
Story 2. Urban fantasy (and Beauty and Beast retelling) about a sorcerer's daughter, isolated and struggling with a curse, who hires a bodyguard in case the city-wide power struggle between magic factions ever reaches her not-easy-to-find doorstep. (It does.)
Story 3. Science fantasy that expands upon a piece of flash fiction I wrote about an inkwitch trying to make a living off her tattoo spells and the uneasy friendship she develops with a newly-freed android.
All will be written eventually; it's more a matter of picking the best one for NaNo. Story 1 would probably be easiest because of the simple quest structure. Also, the main character likes to talk a lot. That always helps. Yet 2 and 3 are very tantalizing, too. Hmm...
Readercon update: Public Statement by the Readercon Convention Committee. Very pleased by this! Cynic that I am, I'm always happily surprised when people say, "This is not okay," and are actually listened to.
There will be a Prometheus sequel. ...Yes, I'll probably see it in theaters.
I've no idea how interesting others will find this, but since I'm always intrigued by glimpses into the creative processes of others, I thought I'd share pieces from mine. In this case, the inspiration for the short story I wrote last week, which was the song "Isolated" by Chiasm, and a photo I found on Tumblr:
A trip down Nostalgia Avenue: my god, nu-metal doesn't age well. The only song I still enjoy is Deftones' "Change," which is atypical for the genre, anyway. Okay, and I have a bit of fondness for Incubus' "Pardon Me," but that could also benefit from being in the first Daria episode I ever watched.
2. Never believe I'll write a flawless story.
2b. When people point out flaws, don't have a fucking tantrum about how my art is in danger of being censored.
2c. Or about how the mean PC Police oppress me.
3. Never believe readers are unwashed filthy masses that need to be enlightened.
3b. Never believe I'm the one to enlighten them.
4. There can never be enough profanity.
5. There can never be enough passion.
6. There can be enough description.
7. Ego works. Self-awareness is even better. Use one when the other is missing.
Well, those are mine. What are yours?
- I'm working furiously on The Thirteenth Rib. Coming down with some type of flu knocked me back a week, but we'll see how quickly I can make it up.
- I recently finished Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories. I enjoyed it very much, to the extent that I'll probably buy my own copy. It was interesting to see the familiar patterns play out in each story, and the different lenses used with which to view vampirism. There were the tragic Byronic figures, the virulent plague types, the melancholy monsters, etc. And of course the fear of sex permeated nearly every page.
- I'm absurdly pleased with my new writing notebook. Since I carry one around wherever I go, I'm particular about what I like. This one is sturdy and sleek, yet plain enough that spilling coffee on it won't bother me. And seeing so many crisp, blank pages just makes me want to write more.
- Latest music discovery: Imogen Heap. iMegaphone is delicious. Some songs have this surreal carnival quality that reminds me of Arcturus' La Masquerade Infernale and The Sham Mirrors, even though the two bands are entirely different overall.
[Day 9: Write a scene working from the title "Roses are Red, Violets are Dead".]
I twisted the ring on my finger as the Minister pulled on her gloves. The thin rubber snapping against her skin sounded painful, but her face only showed skepticism. “You sure about this, Rose? No turning back. My inks are permanent and my needles are blessed.”
“If you really thought I’d call it off, you’d have asked me before I stripped and got on the chair.” I rested my head on my arms, trying to look more relaxed than I felt. “Let’s go.”
And that was the only question she asked me throughout the weeks, as I booked appointment after appointment to sit in her studio and have her needles bite into me.
I’d only been a hardass on one aspect: every piece of Esslyn’s DNA must make it onto my skin, and in patterns a tissue engineer could easily read and transcribe. Everything else – the designs, the colors, and where to put them on my body – I left up to the Minister. She was used to doing this, after all. I was hardly the first war widow to have her love’s genome mapped on her skin.
After the final session, I stared at myself in the mirror. Four letters repeated millions of times, so tiny they resembled continuous lines swirling in intricate shapes and forms over my entire body.
“Those curlicues on my eyelids hurt like a sonofabitch, you know,” I said. The last letters inked, on my collarbone, shifted slightly as I watched them.
The Minister nodded. “Good. Pain to get him back is a nice match for the pain you felt when he was taken away.”
“Is he?” I whispered. “Back, I mean?”
For the first time, I saw a smile on the Minister’s face. “Look at your arms.”
I did, and saw the lines wrapped around them shivering too much to blame on muscle movement.
As I looked into the mirror again, feeling my eyes burn with tears, her cool, crisp voice continued. “Such early sentience is good. It means the offering of your skin was accepted. When you’re completely healed, come back and we’ll find out whether the spirit who responded is actually Esslyn.”
( The list of questions. )