Wednesday, March 30, 2016

RE: The Fishing/Cutting Bait dilemma

Huge snowstorm blew in early this morning. From my back window I cannot see the steps leading from the parking lot to the pool, anymore. That's...that's a lot of snow. No work, but even so my mind is already on the mess of trying to dig the car out tomorrow.
Oh well, in the meantime there is Earl Grey tea with honey and Youtube videos of people much more skilled than I am playing the game, "Adrift."*
The contract came back signed, so as of yesterday, I can (and did) announce that I have sold my novel, Remains, to Lethe Press. We're hoping to have it out around summer of next year. It's been a strange journey for that book. One of the first things I ever wrote, an early draft actually won 3rd prize in a contest back in 2003. Unfortunately, I couldn't turn that into a publishing contract at the time. So, since then, I've been tinkering with it, doing little edits and polishing passes as I learn more and grow as a writer. I finally felt at the end of last year that it was time to fish or cut bait, as they say. I started to query it. And I started with Lethe because I seriously dig what Steve Berman is doing over there--LGBTQ horror and speculative fiction alongside the more expected (but not unwelcome) romances and erotics? That's some cool stuff. Remains is a very different book than the Jacob Trilogy (more news about those books in a second) that I have available over at Rebel Satori. Whereas those books are very transgressive and experimental, this book is a much more traditional setup. As I was writing it, it reminded me a lot of mid-career Stephen King.# Kind of Gerald's Game-y. Kind of what might have happened had he written The Regulators much much earlier in his career and with gay characters. I hope you'll enjoy it--it's had a long road to seeing the light of day. More news on that once we get started working on it in the bottom half of the year.
Speaking of the Jacob Trilogy, we're gearing up on the final book, Drowning Narcissus. Just this week, Sven sent me a rough draft of the book cover design and I love it. I've always said that I've been really lucky in that the designs that Rebel Satori had for my novels are designs that I like a great deal. This one is no exception. I think you guys are going to love it. So we're working on getting that from rough to final draft and as soon as that happens I'll do a cover reveal on Twitter and Instagram--are you following me on those platforms yet?
Meanwhile, I'm still shopping the book I just finished writing. Unfortunately, one of the presses that I automatically thought of as the best place for the book can't fund any more acquisitions from non-Canadian authors for a long while, and the other press just flat out isn't accepting any new unsolicited submissions until they get caught up (which probably won't be any time soon). So, for the first time in my career, I'm looking for an agent. That's not going swimmingly, unfortunately, if I'm honest. Much like Remains and the Jacob Trilogy, the new book doesn't fit easily into any one category. I don't blame agents for being skeptical, I really don't...but I really think this book is special and I hope someone will believe in it as much as I (and my amazing beta readers) do and help me find a great home for it.
Finally getting a chance to read David Mitchell's first novel, Number 9 Dream

I swear, if I can become half the writer he is, I will consider myself very successful, indeed. While I admit that Black Swan Green was not my favorite, and that The Bone Clocks had some moments that weren't magnificent, Mitchell is exquisite more often than not, and it is humbling to see he was always so, even this early on. I highly recommend this book.
Finally, a word about "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," since the whole world is weighing in on it. As I said immediately after seeing it, I almost wish I had hated it--that would be easier to explain than why I actually mostly liked the film. You'll recall that upon first watching, I violently disliked "Man of Steel." It took about 4 rewatchings, and a major overhaul at DC Comics itself for me to understand something that helped me toward liking BvS. Zack Snyder isn't trying to make a fun movie. The intention isn't to make us laugh and empathize. How on earth could we empathize with Batman or Superman? Instead, he's creating a meditation on the ways that superheroes fit into our messiah belief/need structure. In many ways, he's doing the same thing that Frank Herbert was doing with Dune and that Heinlein was doing with Stranger in a Strange Land.
In other words, Snyder is exploring the question: why do we desire a messiah? Also, he's asking the question, what do we tend to do to them once we find them? These were the questions Heinlein and Herbert were already asking, and to them Snyder adds--and are superheroes our modern way of understanding our own messiah drive?
You'll recall that neither of those novels were particularly "fun" or "funny." This leads to an understanding of why the backlash has happened from many people who have seen the film--we don't exactly like having one of our major weaknesses as a culture shoved in our face. That line "Superman never really existed" (or something to that effect) and the constant vacillation of "save us, wait, no, we don't like you saving us because it shows how weak we are" is not just something the humans who live around the superheroes in the films experience. We, as an audience, are made to deal with that not-so-pleasant aspect of ourselves, too, through the course of the film. Worse, we're shown that this particular Superman, unlike the George Reeves or Christopher Reeve interpretation, was not born with an automatic sense of right. He is not inherently a messiah figure. He also didn't have the strong moral compass of his father to raise him as the Tom Welling interpretation did. He's learning to be one as he goes, and we're seeing his humanity, his mistakes. After many rewatchings, I now understand that is why I didn't like "Man of Steel"--I couldn't get past all my Reeves' baggage.
Muad'dib was not born until Paul went to Arrakis. Valentine Michael Smith was not inherently good when born--he didn't become so until he was among humans for a while. Likewise, this Superman
has to spend some time learning to be good, especially in a dark world, such as the one Snyder has presented us with.
When you view the film through that lens, less as a fun way to enjoy some superhero adventure and more as a thoughtful examination of our desire to be saved and our discomfort with that desire, the film is good. Does it do that as well as other films have? No. But it isn't as horrible as many of the critics (who, let's be honest, are often more surface watchers scrambling for a hot quote to get into circulation on twitter than seriously studying the film they are watching) would have you believe.
So there's my 2 cents.
As always, thank you so much for the support! I hope you're as excited for the final book in the Jacob Trilogy to be released as I am!
See you next month.

*= As you may or may not know, I don't play videogames because I am amazingly bad at them. I'm not kidding. You wouldn't believe how horrifically poor a human being can be at something that is supposed to be fun. Still, if I were to play a game, this one would be it--it has me seriously tempted.
#= Mind you, I am in no way saying I'm as good as King, just that the book has a similar feel to me

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