So there's a blog tour going 'round these days, whereby authors answer four questions about their unique take on the craft. Last week, my buddy T.W. Johnson wrapped up his leg of the tour, as part of his promotion for his superhero/monster short story in the upcoming Metahumans vs Robots anthology by Lion's Share Press (I, too, might have news to report about that soon... :p).
As is the way with this particular blog tour, the responsibility fell on T.W. to pass the torch and keep this thing going, and he's tagged me! So here's my take on the four questions we've been posed. And away we go!
Q: What am I working on now?
HITMEN: Four Tales of Magick, Monsters, and Murder as well as the television debut of my first ever creature feature for the Syfy Channel--Snakehead Swamp. While I would love to spend the rest of the year kicked back, sipping sweet tea, and watching COPS all day, the allure of writing calls to me once again.
Right now I'm smack in the middle of work on my sequel to my 2012 multiverse sci-fi adventure novel Rift Jump. Currently sub-titled "Sara's Song", this book will (hopefully) answer all the pertinent questions from the previous book, take us to some wild and terrifying new places, and bid a fond farewell to this particular cast of characters. I've had Michael and Sara in my head since I was writing their first adventures on my Brother word processor in high school back in the mid-90s, so to finally tell their story in full and send them off into the sunset is something I look forward to, but also something I want to make sure I get just right. Even after all these years, these characters still surprise me with their choices as I learn more about them and more about myself in the process. It's an intense gig, and a crazy ride.
Q: How does my work differ from others in its genre?
That's one of those marketing questions that publishers always ask you. That's like asking for "selling points" or my "brand" or why you should buy my work instead of "the competition", but I've never been big on those kinds of questions. Perhaps I'd sell more books if I were. Really, the thing that distinguishes my work from the rest in the genre (in my case, it's horror) is that I didn't write all those other books. It's as simple--and complicated--as that. We all see the world slightly differently. Rather than comparing myself to other writers, I just want to grow from novel to novel, discovering more about myself and my own voice and saying the things that I want to say. I'll leave it up to others to judge and compare styles. I just write what I feel.
You should never write to compete with someone else. You should only ever be in competition with yourself. Look at your last work, own up to your mistakes, and do better the next time. In my life, nothing kills creativity quite like looking at my neighbor's work to see what they're up to and comparing it to my own.
Q: Why do I write what I do?
The short answer is that I write about monsters in order to stay sane.
The longer answer is that, with the advent of social media, I am constantly bombarded by the staggering amount of Evil in the world. You wake up in the morning and make a quick scroll through your newsfeed and--apart from the endless pictures of cutesy animals or people's bizarre obsession with taking snapshots of their feet (which is an evil of another kind)--you are overwhelmed by atrocities, violence, and hate from every side. And these stories are always followed by a charge--"Be outraged!"--but no one has a solution. Instead of finding a solution, we fight, curse, and kill about whose solution is the best, all while safely hiding in the anonymity that the web provides. I'm sure every generation says this, but--especially in this Internet Age--we've been exposed: we are the monsters.
So I write about monsters. That's all I know to do. Writing is the only way I know how to deal with this all-encompassing Ugliness that exists in the world and the hopelessness and helplessness that it creates in me. I am fully convinced that, apart from Christ, there's not hope for a single one of us. So, in my stories, I do my best to wrangle this massive Evil and bind It to a narrative and I fight It. I question It and my own complicity in Its existence. I struggle against It, I laugh in spite of It, and I dare to hope that we can overcome It if we stick together. This Evil takes many different forms in my writing--sometimes a demon, an alien, a vampire, or a giant man-eating fish :p--but it's always the same force. Other authors might write to explore or fantasize, but I write to fight.
Q: How does my writing process work?
I'm a very emotional and instinctive kind of guy. If I'm not "feeling" it, I don't write it. Writers better than me swear by the code that you should write x amount of words every day, but I just don't. Writing can't be mechanical like that. Editing can, but writing has got to be fluid. When I write, I've got to be able to cross over into my story and not "write" it, but just describe what I'm seeing and feeling. I've got to be living it. Many times it's music that gets me there. I almost always write to music. Sometimes when I've got a scene in my head but can't quite get there, I'll spend hours listening to music until a song clicks. Then I'll race to the computer, put that song on repeat (sometimes all day) and just write from pure emotion and discovery. I think, as a writer, I'm probably more like an actor getting into a role. I've also adopted a healthy balance of guiding a story and also letting the story go where it wants. Sometimes I feel a character pulling away from me. I might fight at first, but eventually I'll just let him/her go and follow close behind. I find that always leads somewhere fascinating and exciting that I would have never thought to go on my own. Trust your instincts--or, perhaps, your characters' instincts.
Well, that wasn't so hard, now was it :) Next Monday, follow along as graphic designer and author of the mind-bending supernatural suspense YA novel Uncanny Day (and a really cool dude) Cory Clubb takes the reigns of the tour over at his blog. Thanks for tuning in!