Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Friday, October 15, 2010

about Never Knew Another...

It's coming. As I type this (in advance...) I've got just a little bit left to cover for this first round of editing.

This book hits close to home. Lots of ideas spinning in the head from when I wrote it. I was broke, living with my brother (like one of the characters), or living with my mom (like one of the characters), and I was working awful jobs that felt about as good as killing people for money.

And, I was reading this fantastic fantasy novel by Sara Monette, where all the trappings of epic fantasy, and the set pieces of it, were just window-dressing around what was, at heart, a story about the slow road back to mental health for a rape survivor.

Goddamn, I thought, that's the stuff that's going to be huge, this kind of fantasy (not quite so difficult-to-digest) as LAST DRAGON where all these things are really about the characters coming to terms with a reality that mostly sucks, and nobody's saving the world. Read a couple Jay Lake books, too, which were close, but still a little too epic for my taste. I didn't want to save the city. Cities don't need saving. They just need people inside of them. Where there's people inside of them, there will be poor people, scraping by, watching from the sidelines while other people are leading this fabulous life.

When I want to tell you what it was like to be poor, it felt like these righteous werewolves were hunting me all the time. They weren't just going to kill me, but they were right to do it. They were the police, the landlord, the bill collector, the pickpocket, the shyster, and all the people who look you in the face like you've got something they want when you ain't got a damn thing. 

It felt like they were nipping at my heels, all these werewolves, almost human but not human enough to really give a damn.

Is this a rite of passage for us American authors? Is the break and the drift a necessary step? It might be. It might be for every writer. How many times I heard a writer talking about their life after their divorce, drifting, or life after a job folded up into a paper shell? Plenty.

So, I wrote this book, trying to distill my experience of being broke and aimless and emotionally, intellectually starved into these characters in a fantasy setting, because I could do things in fantasy I don't get to do in life. I don't think it's the perfect representation of that -- nobody wants to read that -- but making it "shiny" makes the experience easier to swallow. 

Maybe people will like it. Maybe not. Doesn't matter.

So, it's coming. It's coming. (Not the werewolves, mind you: the manuscript).


m_bey said...

sadly, this post resonates right now.

J m mcdermott said...

keep your head down. keep writing. try to connect with good people even if you can't connect with money. the bad days pass.