FULL BLEED: TOMORROW ALREADY HAPPENS
Big week last week, though the glacier started calving the week before, really. From there, it was a matter of just watching those giant glittering sheets shear off the mother ice and listen to them slam into the water, generating frequencies that are both beautiful and horrible, ineffable and of the body so much that you feel them echo in your bones.
I probably shouldn't even discuss this, but nobody's reading this blog, right? And even if they were, what are you going to do, go to LOCUS and shout that I've announced the outline of the next seven or so years of my work? That's nutso. I mean, flat crazy. We may not even be here in seven years, but I'm willing to make that bet. It's not like my audience will have died off by then, because I'm honest about those things and in that honesty, there's a freedom. Yeah, it's a horrifying honesty, like you're finding that you've been chained to this life in a suit of meat and bone and matter in which the entire universe resides, that space between your two ears that weighs less than a Christmas goose (or vegetarian/vegan equivalent). So, sure, let's do this. Buckle up.
Here's the rough skeleton for what HAZELAND is going to look like for awhile. This may be subject to change, since I've gone through radical revisions of this. If nothing else, it's good clean entertainment, we don't handle no tricky business in here.
QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS
MY DROWNING CHORUS
THE GLASS DIAMOND
THE CLOSING IRIS
THAT BLACK RADIANCE
ANVIL OF HALOS, ANVIL OF STARS
CINDY SAYS FOLLOW
LOST ON A ONE-WAY STREET
FUNERALS FOR THE LIVING
TOMORROW ALREADY HAPPENED
HUM A FEW BARS OF YESTERDAY
Which, when all is said and done should be shorter than any three books by Robert Jordan. Not that I'm a hater. Just work in a different set of expectations of both myself and the audience. Actually what I have in mind is the sort of long-lost-form of the 5-8 year graphic novel, you know, what we used to get in the 90s and very early 2000s when comics companies who didn't know what was really happening, got tricked into telling longform stories, usually around one writer and a rotating cast of artists, that when put together, made one giant novel-like undertaking. Sure, there's lots of critical differences, but let's not quibble over those and just accept the metaphor for what it is.
Now, is any of this precisely what I planned when I started out on things? Absolutely not. I wrote QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS in all but a panic, wondering if I was going to have enough to float even a short novel (hell, not even a novel but some reckonings, but we have to call it something.) I hadn't necessarily planned on a sequel back when I wrote up the original storyline in early-mid 2016. You know, the Before Time. I started writing the actual text of QUEEN I think the day before my wife went into a life-altering surgery that October, right before my birthday. I finished it the week before Christmas that year. Which was weird for a number of reasons, only some of them having to do with the tectonic shift that American political life (and social life and real life) was undertaking. QUEEN didn't get published until 2018.
I started work on abortive attempts at sequels, most of which got integrated into the trilogy with THAT BLACK RADIANCE in maybe 2017, just to get some ideas out there. Then I talked with the publisher of QUEEN, Broken Eye Books last year, around the time of the HP Lovecraft Film Festival (which feels like it was about five years ago, not last year). Back then we agreed on finishing out the trilogy that I'd laid out roughly (as listed above). But I wanted to do more with it.
So between working on ASPHALT TONGUES (for those of you playing along at home, it's a collection of short stories set in the HAZELAND setting, but not necessarily following the main spine of the story, or working with side characters who haven't yet gotten their share of the limelight) and some other things, I thought about what I wanted to expand and push out on, both in terms of genre expectation and story development. Granted, the closer to the end I get, the hazier things are, aside from a general target with regards to theme/tone. That's okay. Hell, I don't want everything on rails. But things are stronger when you have a general concept of the direction you mean to be traveling in.
Problem was that I was running out of space in the scope of books that I was imagining.
Well, there is a fix for this. Commit to doing it. So that it does happen. May as well commit to a course of perceived insanity and see it through, whether or not an audience is demanding it or the publisher will allow it. I'm the one responsible for it, so let's just roll right down the highway. And if things change, they change. Not like this is a legally binding document. More like a treasure map.
And, as I said in my first ill-advised press release that I wrote up for QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS a couple years back: "I just wanted to write something I wanted to read." It's probably not going to hew to genre purity. Shocking, I know. And maybe the characters will push me around some; I'm open to outside input with appropriate filtering. But if the characters get in my face and point out how a thing isn't going to happen like I thought it would, I try and honor it. It does actually happen. At least to me. Just like the secret meaning of the book makes itself apparent, even beyond all my careful notes and pre-writing. A scene will happen, or meditation on an image and then step back. Might be a paragraph or a page or a whole sequence that wasn't anywhere before. A detournment, if you like, as opposed to spending an afternoon in detournment in a city (which is a thing I really miss in the world that we're living in.)
I'm excited for it. I'm terrified that I don't have it in me, but somehow I've managed to get across the finish line before on things that I'd all but convinced myself I wasn't going to. Just gotta not look down.
Which is a powerful temptation.