FULL BLEED: THE HISS OF HEAT ON THE ROAD OUTSIDE
Finished the first draft of ASPHALT TONGUES, which will be the third book in the HAZELAND book series, however long it lasts. This isn't mean to be ominous or anything. You all know that I have a bunch of books planned out (and think I'm starting on the second group of three books real soon--well after revisions on this one are done.) But we can't predict anything anymore. There's a lot of reasons why things wouldn't go past this one.
Yeah, bummer. I get it. Fact is that's where we are in publishing, at nearly every level. This is not a thing I'm happy with. Hell, I'd love it if thing were healthy and not being run by conglomerates who are afraid of not turning a profit over all other things. Fact is, that's exactly where we live.
Anyways, this project was a bit tougher to come together than I thought it would. Probably because I'm a dope and I thought that doing seven short stories would be no big deal or anything. But I'm not good at writing short stories, per se, so they're really all very short or merely short novellas, when you get down to it. I never mastered the trick of constructing a short story that really resonated. I've come close a couple times, but I just can't get that conceptual framework on my head. So what ended up happening was me writing seven very short books, with every stage of (mental) life that those entail. Mostly the merry-go-round of "I love this!" to "Ugh more of this!" to "Oh geez, this isn't working at all!" to "I guess I finished it at least."
So yeah, I'm kinda done right now. You could argue that it's only six times, since one of the stories now in the book was written last year (but I went through all the same stages with that one so it totally counts.) Remind me not to do short story collections again, okay?
So, what are all these stories about? Good question. There's one that follows Cait from after MY DROWNING CHORUS (which I think will be coming out this summer unless it doesn't -- yeah, I'm not wild about that, either.) There's a couple featuring side characters from the books so far, and a bunch not about anyone we already know. Mostly. Mostly I wanted to break out of Cait's voice and cover some different neighborhoods and situations, open things up a little bit. Let's take a peek. Please note that these titles may indeed get changed, but I'll fight to keep all of them included in the (as it stands) 420-odd page long draft.
Cut/Paste - A low-rent private investigator goes to collect on a debt for a friend. What he finds is a plot involving gentrification, an old flame who was a collage artist and the space where money and people go to war, bringing along with them some unexpected allies. Detectives, detournement and paper-machie.
Third Thursdays - A girl from Hollywood is ready to leave herself and home, perhaps with the kids from someplace else, meeting under the 6th Street Aqueduct and throwing their thumping outdoor parties. She just has to admit who she is. Block parties, your favorite taco stand, hot rod races and young love along the concrete riverbank.
The Unicorn - Quest 4 is in their first season, desperate to find a story that will put them on the map. Out of money and options, they pursue the urban legend of the Scarman from the LA River all the way to the inland empire. What they find is something even more unbelievable. Post-aquarian documentary television, belief and exploitation and what do you do when the unicorn lays its head in your lap?
The Lady with the Spindle - Link makes a living driving an unregistered cab when he's not playing in the Wilmington Slicks. So why is he driving this high-class and mysterious woman all over Los Angeles with not even a nickel in it for him? And what's following, big enough to cast a shadow over the whole county. This one's inspired by "Drive She Said" which was a single put out by Stan Ridgway back in the eighties. Think of it as Chandler by way of Calvino.
Two Guys Walk into the Wrong Bar - Rufus and Greg, two brothers in the stick-up game. One is merely good, one is lucky. After swearing to go straight, Rufus is drawn back into the game by a job that's too easy and too rich to pass up. Which is exactly why he should. Because the name of the joint they're robbing is the Last Prayer club. Beautiful losers making a last stab at making the life work coming face to face with a very special birthday party.
The Stars are Made of Us - Two lovers in the band Dreamless find that not only will fame come between them, but it has a price that only one of them is willing to pay. Will their break win them everything or cost it instead? The ashes of dreams, overnight success after ten years and promises made.
The Cinderhaus - Once a year, there's a very quiet, very discreet auction of items best thought of as impossible. This year, Cait's been invited by the owner of Third Hand Books to attend as a guest. But even guests can be caught up in the whirlpool that threatens to swallow the works this time. Tektites, a suppressed Blake watercolor and two very special locks of hair, all for sale on the stage at Grauman's Egyptian Theater this year.
I had a lot of fun with these. Very few of them turned out the way I expected them to. Revisions should be interesting. I'm hoping that they don't all turn out as just any one thing, that there's some laughs (dry or otherwise) scattered alongside the wonder and the weird and the beauty of driving the roads of Los Angeles, not having any destination in mind.
I was going to talk about some publishing happenings (not to me directly, but worth addressing, though I brought 'em up on Twitter.) But things are grim enough that I won't cover that right now. Will try to post again this week. Funny, but when I'm working on manuscript drafts, the idea of typing out more stuff just doesn't appeal.