The lovely and talented author Aaron Rosenberg tagged me to answer four questions about my writing process for a delightful blog-hop, so here we go.
#1 What am I working on?
I just took inventory of my projects and there are about 25 large and small things I’m working on. Probably the most important is a “geek noir” novel called A Billion Smithereens which asks the question, “What if a RPG gamer was forced to take down a secret cult led by an evil billionaire version of Neil Gaiman?” It is a mystery in the tradition of Bimbos of the Death Sun, the weirdness of the Illuminatus! trilogy, rooted in the world of renaissance festivals, role-playing games, cosplay, and mega-conventions. I read selections from the manuscript at a few conventions and they went over well.
I’m also very excited to be supporting the release of Bryan Lincoln’s production of my serialized adventure “Hidden Harbor Mysteries” featuring a fantastic cast and some spectacular production values. Bryan’s production succeeds in creating a 1930s style radio show with contemporary sensibilities. This is strictly a fun, action-packed adventure serial in the vein of The Shadow and The Green Hornet. I pulled a lot of my love for the Golden Age of Radio and tried to put a gentle 21st century spin on it. I’m not shy about sharing my enthusiasm for all the work put into this production and the pride I have that so many talented voices agreed to participate. Want to listen for free? Check out the web site or search for the show on iTunes if you want to subscribe and have the latest episodes downloaded automatically.
I am shopping around an epistolary novel of very dark, experimental horror about a messianic serial killer trying to recruit a small town minister with a terrible secret. I’ve had some bites, but no buys yet, but that’s part of the fun of selling.
Other projects include prose stories based on characters from Hidden Harbor Mysteries and a return to podcasting in a new interview show.
#2 How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m not sure if I have a genre. One of the challenges I’ve faced in the Master of Fine Arts program at Seton Hill is identifying a genre for my novel, A Billion Smithereens.
I just tell stories I want to tell and let people decide what box to put them in. I’m not very good at selling what my work is, but I’m fortunate there are people out there happy to speak for me.
Oh. You want a real answer. Okay.
I’d say my work has pretentious literary roots but I allow my characters to come up for air and have fun every so often. I blow things up. My zombies eat babies. The weak and the fearful make the world into what they always hated and feared. I’m something of a cynic when it comes to the worlds and characters I create, yet there will always be some hopeful dynamic that drives the main characters; a delightful and simplistic idealism that I can’t resist. I like to think that I write Lovecraftian horror but with Ghostbusters for leads instead of crazy, loquacious victims giving desperate statements of futility. I don’t know if that makes it unique or even different from the spectrum of speculative fiction I write, but it defines my approach.
#3 Why do I write what I do?
I try to clear the bad thoughts from my head. I try to fix things in my own life that are broken or mend the cracks in the world with ideas and words. Writing is one part therapy and one part vicarious adventure through some other universe. I can create a world and destroy it, save it, or pick a few lives and toy with them a while. Writing worlds are a sandbox for our own lives. As a writer I get to work out problems and as a reader I get to distance myself from my own problems and realities for a while. In both cases, there is a chance to build something or think about something in a different way or just have fun.
When the monsters end up on the page, they are out of my head in a constructive way.
#4 How does my writing process work?
I typically work at night, after work and on my own. Research is something I do all the time. I daydream a lot, sometimes during the commute or while walking the mall. I take photos and type notes into my phone, email scraps of dialogue or ideas to myself when I can’t sit down to write.
And I read. A lot.
When I sit down to write, I listen to music that fits the story and I try to keep it instrumental. My brain picks up on word rhythms and if I listen to a singer or a particular vocal type, that tends to screw up the “voice” of my characters. Sometimes I’ll listen to music that reminds me of a feeling or a time in my life that helps prompt the writing.
If I’m stuck, I’ll write a short dialogue between myself and the character or characters to see what they think is happening. If the character is fully realized in my head, this helps. If the character can’t tell me what’s going on then I know I haven’t fully realized that character enough to tell the story.
Once I’m done with a story I subject fellow writers to it for feedback. I’ll revise it as though its someone else’s work that I’m paying for, which usually opens up a new batch of corrections and changes, and work on the story until I’m happy or a deadline hits, whichever comes first.
And now to the next batch of answering writerly types.
Jeff Young is a bookseller first and a writer second, although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune. He’s had stories published in a number of anthologies, won a Writers of the Future Award and recently edited the TV Gods anthology for Fortress Publishing.
blog = http://jy.watchtheskies.org/
Eric Hardenbrook is a FAN, an author and an artist, generally in that order. He has been part of the team running the Watch The Skies science fiction and fantasy group and publishing the Watch The Skies fanzine for the past thirteen years. When not working on a project or spending time with his amazing wife and daughter he enjoys the occasional video game or board games and is an old school role player. Find me at The Pretend Blog (www.ehardenbrook.com)