I guess you could say I’ve been in sort of a writing slump. Even though I did finish another novel earlier this year (The Private Sector, a loose prequel to World-Mart) the thought of starting another felt so daunting. This past year has provided many hurdles, some of which I never imagined I’d personally face. I focused on writing short stories, keeping my commitments small, and I had no plans for another novel anytime in the immediate future.
I’d noticed in a handful of reviews that there were World-Mart readers who wanted to read more about the crumbled society I’d left them with. While I’d purposely slammed them into a brick wall at the end as a social and political statement, some felt it wasn’t right that I’d left them in the dark where I had. I hadn’t considered what might happen in the aftermath, and I felt I’d shared what I felt most important.
Recently, one of my sisters read World-Mart and offered similar criticism, adding, “I wish I knew what happened to George.” That got me thinking. Was it right of me to leave readers to assume he too would soon die? What if George’s story didn’t end there?I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) before, and with sound reason. Some years ago, I’d written 50,000 words in one month, and it was an exhausting experience I hoped never to repeat. However, the closer it got to November 1, the more World-Mart began to eat at me. It did need a sequel, I decided, and NaNoWriMo was going to help me along with that.
Logging 50,000 words by November 30 isn’t my priority. I’m neither exceptionally young nor exceptionally healthy, and I don’t plan on ignoring those factors. Still, I’m writing, even if it’s 500-1000 words per day. I’m holding to my own personal goal: write this book, and in a timely manner that fits my limitations. I’m currently at 19,100, and the month is half over. Still, NanoWriMo has given me the kick in the pants I needed to tackle this new project.
The author "stats" dashboard is a great resource. It keeps up not only on your word count but also estimates the average word could you'll need in order to reach 50,000 words by November 30. Even more, if you've been straggling (like I have) it will estimate the date on which you'll reach that goal at your given pace. That alone is a surprisingly effective incentive to add at least a little progress each day, even if 50,000 words by the 30th s a bit beyond your current reach. It's definitely helped me.
So, World-Mart fans, the aftermath is coming, and I’m writing it with you in mind. It’s not going to be finished in a month, but hopefully it will be worth the wait.
Tactful Juxtaposition in Horror
When you think about what scares you most in a horror story, what is the quickest to come to mind? Chances are, your mind’s eye will impose images of what should, under any normal circumstances, be the most unlikely of suspects. Children giggling, clowns smiling, dignified noblemen, perfectly sculpted topiary …the list goes on when it comes to imagery that, with just the right touch, goes from innocent or distinguished to downright terrifying. Place the giggling children in an otherwise empty haunted house; put a bit of blood on the clown’s suit; give the nobleman fangs; see the topiary move behind the protagonist’s back. It’s the dissonance between expectation and realization that creates the best kind of horror.
This holds true just as much with use of language as it does with use of imagery, which is why Gothic horror is (in my humble opinion) especially thrilling. While the necessary components—stormy/foggy weather, a castle or castle-like structure, a supernatural element, a maze (either literal or metaphorical) and a protagonist being pursued by some kind of monster—are dark and atmospheric in and of themselves, it is the language that seals the deal. The mesh of high literary form and supernatural evil works against a person’s sensibilities in the same way the giggle of a child possessed by pure evil might; it works much like dramatic irony, so effective because of the incongruence of elements.
Consider any of a number of passages written by the master of Gothic horror, Edgar Allan Poe. For an example, I’ve pulled a random stanza from his timeless classic, “The Raven”:
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
‘Wretch,’ I cried, ‘thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’
Look carefully at the language here. It is simple yet elegant, while uncommon and still fluid. Poe uses “Seraphim” and “angels” to raise (ironic) demonic imagery. He uses “nepenthe,” legendary and illusory, instead of using “forget” alone. Consider his use of alliteration: “swung” and “Seraphim”; “foot-falls” and “tufted floor”; “hath lent thee” and “has sent thee”; “nepenthe and thy”; “quaff” and “quoth.” These careful choices add an elegance to Poe’s words that make them all the more chilling.
I once conversed with another horror writer who insisted Gothic horror was, in his own language, “pretentious.” That word has stuck with me ever since. Pretentious. I must beg to differ. Gothic horror is sophisticated. It is complex. It contains a level of brilliance that might not be appreciable to fans of superficial horror—slash and dash, blood and guts, and such—and that’s okay. Literary is not everyone’s cup of oleander tea. With that said, I’ll take Gothic over gore any day.
It’s just scarier—in my humble opinion.
This blog post is part of Coffin Hop’s countdown to Halloween. There are tons of prizes up for grabs, so make sure to check out the many other participating authors’ blogs by going to www.coffinhop.com.Also be sure to take a look at Coffin Hop’s benefit anthology, Death by Drive-In, the proceeds of which will go to the literacy program, Lit World.
What is your favorite kind or horror? Leave a comment for your chance to win a signed paperback copy of my Poe-inspired Gothic horror, Finding Poe, or an electronic copy of Death by Drive-In. Winners will be announced precisely at the stroke of the witching hour on Halloween ... unless the evil clown gets me. *insert evil laugh*
When I received my first publishing contract in 2008, I felt as though I’d found a golden ticket. I wasn’t just a writer anymore; I’d graduated to the elite club of authors. Back then, I would have signed just about anything to see my name in print, an all-too-common story among newbies. I didn’t know any better, and I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I assembled a blog, made connections, and felt a sense of loyalty to the publisher, which prompted me to publish my next several more works exclusively through that company. Do you know what rights you're
Since that first contract, I’ve learned quite few useful tidbits about wading through the ever-growing sea of publishing. Who’d have thought there was a learning curve to being an author? Most everyone learns a little more about the craft of writing with each successive work; what I hadn’t anticipated was what I’d learn about the craft of being an author. Much of the following will seem like no-brainers to those who've been at this for a while, but for the rest of you, here are some of the gems I had to learn the hard way:
signing away? Make sure you do.
1. Understand every clause in your contract before you sign it. If you don’t understand something, hire a lawyer or someone equally qualified to explain it to you. Know what rights you’re signing away and make sure you have a closed-ended timeframe to the publisher’s stake. Similarly, make sure there is a clause that explains in no uncertain terms how you can reclaim the rights to your work(s)—and “out of circulation” clauses don’t count; a publisher can claim your book is in circulation because a single, used copy is floating around on Amazon. If you don’t cover these two bases, the publisher can hold your work indefinitely. Just in five years, the difference in my
2. Don’t agree to major changes you feel uncomfortable making. 9 times out of 10, the editor is going to be right. S/he likely has much more experience in the business than you and, therefore, has a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. With that said, editors are sometimes wrong. I once agreed to a change I didn’t want to make, fearful that the publisher might drop me if I didn’t acquiesce to its every whim (stupid, stupid), and the negative reviews for that story ended up highlighting that one aspect I hadn’t wanted to add. The moral of the story: if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it—even if it means losing a contract. You’ll regret it later if you go ahead against your gut.
3. Don’t spread yourself too thin. While promo is a necessary evil, don’t join every social networking site you can find or you’ll end up accomplishing nothing. A big part of social networking is making meaningful connections. If you try to be everywhere at once, you’ll find yourself nowhere. Few of us find that perfect balance between connecting with readers and pimping our books. I’m still working on that one myself, but I’ve met some really neat people in the process.
4. The tighter and more grammatically correct your story is, the less opportunity you give editors to change your hard-crafted prose. This is one I grew to learn after that fateful change I relayed in #2. I knew my writing back then wasn’t a contender for the Great American Novel award. I also knew my grammar was good but not stellar. I went back to school and significantly improved both. I (and the editors I’ve worked with) have been much happier ever since.
writing is like night and day. This is the
first novel in my erotic horror series.
My publisher wanted to turn it into a
romance, which might not have been
the best idea. It has a good story line,
but it also has its flaws.
5. Write what you feel passionate about, not what you think will sell. I got my first break in erotic romance. I’d been following the blog of a literary agent I thought might someday be interested in me, and when she advertised a call for erotic short stories, I jumped at the chance to show her what I could do. I had no experience in romance, but I’d heard there was money in it. Seemed like a win-win situation to me. Unfortunately, I’m more of a literary/speculative/horror girl, and I found myself writing in a genre I wouldn’t normally read. I ended up with a nice list of publishing credits under my belt, even a book sold on the Home Shopping Network, but nothing I could use to sell myself in the genres I actually wanted to write.
Bottom line: don’t worry about the bottom line, at least not yet. Be true to yourself. Network with people you’d want to hang out with, if given the chance, outside the Internet. Steer clear of editors and potential peers who would see you as nothing more than a means to their own end. Write what you’d want to read. If you don’t, you’ll only end up wasting your time and energy forever chasing that golden ticket.
I’ve touched upon this before, and with mixed response, but I must have another word on the subject. It never ceases to surprise me when a reader somehow feels cheated when finishing a dystopian novel that ends on a less-than-happy note. I understand that genres evolve to a certain extent, but to base one’s dystopian rubric on what one experiences in reading, say, The Hunger Games, is faulty to say the very least. Let’s take a look at a few of the most influential classics, the dystopias that truly define the genre:
Planet of the Apes: Ulysse escapes Soror with his primitive lover and child, offering the readers hope that all will be well, only to return home to find Earth has become the same hell he escaped. The couple in space who had the message in a bottle—again, hope for the human race—only end up throwing another disturbing monkey wrench into the works (yes, pun fully intended).
The point: Apes merely “ape,” and everything the readers see in the ape society represents humanity’s progress put eternally on hold; we only hold ourselves back, and when we fail to reach our potential, society as a whole pays for our failings.
1984: Lovers Winston and Julia are discovered together by the Thought Police and are taken to the Ministry of Love for torturous, brainwashing “re-education.” They both betray one another during interrogation, and then suffer their greatest fears in Room 101, Winston nearly having his face chewed to ribbons by rats before having the horror differed instead onto Julia. Their love dissolves—actually transforms into contempt—as a result of their experiences, and both re-enter society as selfless drones who live to serve and love “Big Brother.”
The point: If we submit to group thought, essentially allowing others to think for us, and do not exercise our rights as individual human beings, we will lose all that makes humanity so exceptional and diverse.
Cat’s Cradle: Ice-nine, a frozen chemical that turns all liquid it comes into contact with into more ice-nine (which stays frozen even in high temperatures), falls into the ocean via the crash of a plane containing the frozen body of a dictator who had committed suicide by ingesting the chemical, and all of the oceans in the world freeze over, ensuring the extinction of virtually all life on the planet.
The point: The most selfish and ignorant of humankind will be the downfall of us all.
My point: There is a reason many of my works end in tragedy, and sometimes it takes a little brainpower to figure out why. I know some people read to escape and some people read to think, but those in need of escapism have no place picking up the good majority of dystopian works. When I read reviews that show contempt for the dark ending in my dystopia, all I can think of is, You obviously have not read enough to know what you’re talking about. Go back to your YA dystopia, the sugar-coated kind, and leave the real literature to the big kids. And, should you decide to pick up a novel that follows the classic dystopian trope, don’t complain if you leave without that warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s meant to stimulate your brain, not fulfill your escapist needs.
It's blunt and it's not nice, but it's also true.
Edgar Allan Poe was well known for his critical reviews of other authors, and to pay homage, I’ve decided to offer a critical review of what I believe to be one of his most provocative short stories, “The Pit and the Pendulum.” While Poe’s reviews were often scathing, I felt it more appropriate to celebrate his birthday with something a bit more praiseworthy and analytical.
In “The Pit and the Pendulum,” Poe uses hellish visuals to portray the irony of religious justification for torture and death. His unnamed protagonist first describes his physical response to the “inquisitorial voices” sentencing him to death. His senses fail him before he falls into a mild hallucinatory state, at which time one must consider the possibility that Poe is using his common tool, the unreliable narrator. This works to the benefit of the story, however, allowing one to regard the entire work as an opinion piece.The narrator describes,
I saw, too, for a few moments of delirious horror, the soft and nearly imperceptible waving of the sable draperies which enwrapped the walls of the apartment; and then my vision fell upon the seven tall candles upon the table. At first they wore the aspect of charity, and seemed white slender angels who would save me: but then all at once there came a most deadly nausea over my spirit, and I felt every fibre in my frame thrill, as if I had touched the wire of a galvanic battery, while the angel forms became meaningless spectres, with heads of flame, and I saw that from them there would be no help.
Here, the seven candles represent the Catholic pontifical high Mass, which is commonly associated with the Pope. It is in the above passage where he makes clear his intentions in writing this story. When he describes the candles as “angel forms [that] became meaningless spectres, with heads of flame,” he juxtaposes the holy with hellfire, a visual that will prove to be a recurring theme throughout the work.
The narrator falls into a fugue state, which he can only compare to death. Poe writes,
I had swooned; but still will not say that all of consciousness was lost. What of it there remained I will not attempt to define, or even to describe; yet all was not lost. In the deepest slumber -- no! In delirium -- no! In a swoon -- no! In death -- no! Even in the grave all was not lost. Else there is no immortality for man. Arousing from the most profound of slumbers, we break the gossamer web of some dream. Yet in a second afterwards (so frail may that web have been) we remember not that we have dreamed.
The narrator’s inability to define or describe his experience represents the unknown and the uncertainty of what lies beyond death. Through his perceived encounter with those sanctified by the Catholic Church, our protagonist loses his faith in the divine. He further exemplifies this ironic event in his confusion over what exactly he has encountered: “In the deepest slumber -- no! In delirium -- no! In a swoon -- no! In death -- no! Even in the grave all was not lost. Else there is no immortality for man.” By claiming, “Even in the grave all was not lost. Else there is no immortality for man,” the narrator is defining the moment in which he feels forced to question the afterlife. He compares the encounter to a dream immediately forgotten upon waking, bringing death to a strictly physical level and abandoning any spiritual connection. He elaborates upon this sentiment when he soon thereafter describes the experience as “some token of the state of seeming nothingness into which [his] soul had lapsed.”
Illustration courtesy of MacFran:
Poe cleverly offers a sense of confusion over the narrator’s unreliability when he comes upon a brief moment of clarity. He describes, “I brought to mind the inquisitorial proceedings, and attempted from that point to deduce my real condition. The sentence had passed, and it appeared to me that a very long interval of time had since elapsed.” Here, he recalls his sentencing, but also questions the state in which the shock of that sentence had imposed upon him. He exemplifies this by adding, “Yet not for a moment did I suppose myself actually dead. Such a supposition, notwithstanding what we read in fiction, is altogether inconsistent with real existence; -- but where and in what state was I?” By specifically referring recorded experiences of death as “what we read in fiction,” he denies any supernatural connection to said experiences. His additional observation that it might be “altogether inconsistent with real existence” fortifies the idea that there is a clear divide between his perceived and actual occurrences.
The narrator, upon gaining full consciousness, finds himself in a pitch-black dungeon, which he describes as difficult to gauge in shape and dimension. This, of course, works as a parallel to the indeterminate size and shape of our universe (which remained an enigma at the time of this story’s creation), his imprisoned world suddenly reduced to the same level of uncertainty. He clarifies the nature of his prison, however, after again falling unconscious and waking to find the dungeon lit just enough for him to gauge his surroundings. He describes it as “a wild sulphurous luster” with an “origin of which [he] could not at first determine.” By describing the vague light source as having “a wild sulphurous luster,” he incorporates sensations most often associated with Hell, and by adding that the origin was one “of which [he] could not determine,” he makes clear the ethereal ekphrasis intended.
When Poe introduces the pendulum, he provides an interconnection between time and death, insinuating the finiteness of all life. He describes the pendulum as “a painted figure of Time as he is commonly represented, save that in lieu of a scythe he held as a casual glance I supposed to be the pictured image of a huge pendulum, such as we see on antique clocks.” By meshing the traditional images of (pendulum) and death (scythe), he alludes to the association between the two; both are inescapable and both play against one another in the eventual mortality of all humans. Many attempt to diffuse their fears over the two through faith, but again, perception and reality do not always go hand in hand.
Poe further alludes to this connection when his narrator describes, “there had been no perceptible descent in the pendulum.” Like watching a child grow or a person age, the perception is not one that can be viewed in one moment to the next. One might as well attempt to watch the grass grow. Old age creeps upon us all, and youth falls to the wayside before it can be fully appreciated. Death, as inevitable as it is, often seems distant until nearly the moment it strikes. Most of us think little about our mortality, or the finality that may come with death, until we’re forced to, as Poe’s narrator exemplifies, “For the first time during many hours, or perhaps days, I THOUGHT.” It isn’t until the pendulum has nearly reached him that he is able to ponder both its implications and his possible escape.
Poe returns to allusions of the battles resulting from the Inquisition when he brings the rats inhabiting the dungeon to the forefront. The narrator describes,
I had not counted in vain upon their voracity. Observing that I remained without motion, one or two of the boldest leaped upon the frame-work and smelt at the surcingle. This seemed the signal for a general rush. Forth from the well they hurried in fresh troops. They clung to the wood, they overran it, and leaped in hundreds upon my person.
Notice the choice in language here: the “general rush” and the “fresh troops.” Poe clearly depicts war through the garish guise of vermin warming a man on the brink of death. Still, his narrator survives, patiently waiting for their assault against his flesh to weaken also the ties that bind him, only to describe the horrors that ensue:
I had scarcely stepped from my wooden bed of horror upon the stone floor of the prison, when the motion of the hellish machine ceased and I beheld it drawn up by some invisible force through the ceiling. This was a lesson which I took desperately to heart. My every motion was undoubtedly watched. Free! I had but escaped death in one form of agony to be delivered unto worse than death in some other.
Image courtesy of Ryan Russell.
Click on image for more information.
Here, one might find a correlation between the assumed all-seeing eyes of God and the narrator’s torturers: “My every motion was undoubtedly watched.” The pendulum ceases as soon as he slips from his binds, and he anticipates a new level of suffering to replace the old. The “lesson which [he takes] desperately to heart” compares to the canonical “lesson[s]” anyone might derive from any given religious text.
When the torturers are finally revealed, the narrator describes “Demon eyes, of a wild and ghastly vivacity, glar[ing] …in a thousand directions where none have been visible before, and gleamed with a lurid luster of a fire that I could not force my imagination to regard as unreal.” The description here is more ethereal than it is earthly, turning men into demons, meshing the imagined with inescapable reality. Those trusted with the position of punishing the condemned are no better than those deemed the heathens they have sentenced; human and demon become one in the same. Poe ensures his message is clear by describing his torturers as “most demoniac of men,” and by transforming the stone walls of the narrator’s prison as “burning iron” ever closing in on his protagonist.
When he rouses from his imagined hell, the protagonist realizes “the fiery walls rushed back” and he is still on the battlefield, fighting alongside General Lasalle of the French army, driving those fighting for the Inquisition into submission. This reversal of roles here is key to the story. By shifting the narrator’s hell into reverie, Poe merely shows that he portrays one side of a complicated story. More importantly, he illustrates the atrocities that might exist due to something as menial as a difference in belief. The enemy is always the demon, and his domain is always Hell, and it is only human nature to dehumanize he whom one currently fights against.
Works cited by link:
It Takes a Village
I get asked one question in interviews and while talking to readers a lot. What advice do you have for other writers? My answer is usually to keep trying and never give in to haters. That really is the best advice I can ever give. If you give up, you will never accomplish anything.
There is another little bit of advice that is just as important. What is this magical little bit of advice? It takes a village. Yep. It’s that simple. Just remember that you can’t do it on your own.
When I first started thinking about a Zombie A.C.R.E.S. project, it was a comic series idea and not a book. After having issues with artist after artist, I decided my best path was to bring Zombie A.C.R.E.S. to life through short stories. My thinking was since writing is such a solo project (except for the characters and voices in your head), I won’t have to rely on an artist or anyone else to bring my dream to fruition.
Man was I wrong.
I have said many times that last year and a half has been trial and error, with error being the more prevalent of the two. One of the biggest errors I have made was trying to do everything on my own. Sure, writing the stories was mostly me, but even that was a group project at times.
Even today there are some things that I try to do on my own, but I have to step back and ask myself, ‘Is this going to result in the best final product?’ In many cases the answer is no, so I proceed to find someone to help populate my village.
AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga)
In a world where corporate greed is allowed to run wild, Roslun Global has become the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. As head of this juggernaut of a company, Richard Roslun wields unheard of global power. To obtain and hold onto this power, Roslun is willing to do anything, including killing innocents.
When Richard Roslun realizes what he must do to save everything, his sights become set on a young girl named Alice. When Alice’s mother returns home from work with an infection, all hell breaks lose in Alice’s fragile world. Alice and her sister Georgia are hiding as death is literally banging on the front door when the unthinkable happens.
A second outbreak tests the love between Sam Ashe and and his fiancé Heather. Sam is a horror geek who has always been obsessed with zombies. When his fantasies become a reality, the man inside him will have to rise to the adventure ahead.
Fate brings Sam and Georgia together in the mission to save young Alice. Will love be enough to fight off the undead and stop pure corporate greed?
Find AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) on Smashwords, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Paperback, and many other online retailers.
About the Author:Joshua Cook was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, late in 1977; and this where he has spent most of his life. There have been short bursts throughout his life where he has spread his wild oats to other parts of the United States, though.
Briefly Josh lived in Arizona and a brief – dark – time in Indiana and Ohio. Finally he landed in Washington state. He now calls Washington home where he lives with his girlfriend and dog.
This is where he created the growing fan favorite web site ZombieACRES.com, which spawned its first book in 2012. After many years of writing non-fiction, news, and various other articles, Josh decided to poke around in fiction – and loves it.
I spent my New Year’s Day watching SyFy’s annual marathon of The Twilight Zone, enjoying the revisit of my favorite episodes and taking great joy in remembering forgotten details. As I watched, I tried to think of other television shows that have compared, and although there have been some exceptional series over the past fifty-some-odd years, none have quite captured that same level of innovation and brilliance. Even now, watching my favorite of the show’s intros gives me a delightful shiver.
The following are the main three reasons why I believe The Twilight Zone is the best television show of all time:
All of my regular readers know what a strong influence I feel Rod Serling has been on my own writing. He is, without a doubt, one of the most innovative writers of his time. One of the main reasons The Twilight Zone was so exceptional was that Serling had such a strong influence on the series. He wrote many of the episodes, his careful use of language and imagery often resulting in a breathtaking effect. His use of symbolism might not always have been subtle, but it was always provocative. His dialog was realistic and profound, and his commentary so poignant that it might be considered timely in nearly every generation. His themes often revolved around the value of human life, and how different individuals or groups might lose sight of that value in the name of money, power, changing social mores, and/or technological advancement.
The Twilight Zone took chances on social and political issues that even now some might consider daring. The series represented speculative fiction in its purest form, using elements of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, to make statements about the world and the people living in it. In effect, the show used its suspension of reality to say something important about the realest of issues. Other shows have done this as well, most recently the Fox sci-fi drama Fringe and AMC’s The Walking Dead, but none have done it quite as skillfully.
While there are a great number of episodes in which the outcome might be somewhat predictable, one who has never seen the series would never be able to predict what might happen from one episode to the next. The series spanned from lighthearted to downright horrifying, each episode unique and with its own individual offering of commentary and social analysis. Moreover, while some of the twists used throughout the show might seem clichéd in terms of modern television or literature, most were groundbreaking during their time.
I wonder what the generations beyond mine think about the original black and white series—and if they are even willing to give a chance to a show they might consider too outdated to be enjoyable. The thought that The Twilight Zone might ever be considered outdated, regardless of its basic special effects and forgotten actors, sends chills up my spine. Although many have attempted to emulate—even revise and recreate—this brilliant classic television series, there will never be another show quite like it.
Those who have read FINDING POE already know that the prose is far from contemporary. The first-person narrator is a young noblewoman, and it was only right that the language reflect that as much as possible without becoming disruptive. More importantly: The story uses language similar to that which one might find in a Poe story, and the language and Poe-like use of imagery help to add his unique flavor of darkness and terror.
I'd love to know what readers have been thinking about the prose. I was delighted the other day to read in horror author Byran Hall's 5-star Amazon review: "The style is very similar to old literary horror writers like Poe himself or HP Lovecraft, and I'll admit that it may not be for everyone just for that fact - today's modern style of writing is a bit different and some may go into this expecting something else."
Writing in such a way was an interesting undertaking for me, and shifting into just the right gear took time (and maybe a little ritualistic undertaking of his muse). Technically speaking, I compare shifting style very closely to singing the harmony to a song. Once you find one or two of the right notes, finding and singing a harmony line (which can be vastly different than the melody) can be fun and easy. In writing that uses an altogether different voice, the key is looking at today's language as a melody and an author's shift in voice as one of many harmonies. Finding it might be hard, but once a writer does find it, sticking with it is as easy as singing the harmony for the chorus to your favorite song.
I can't say enough how great it feels when someone catches important details such as that one. Just as great is when someone catches the novel's big hook, one I have found only about half of its readers really to have done (and this surprises me). However, it's very exciting when readers get the full depth of a book, because I do work hard to make my writing say something beyond the face value of its words. I love being able to connect with other people on that level.
When writing WORLD-MART, I strove for an overtly mundane and cold world with the hope of fully immersing readers into the world-gone-corporate. It was part of a literary technique that works to connect to readers not only through what they read, but how they're reading it. That meant, however, also writing characters who could fit that cold, corporate model. I chose the Irwin family to be the epitome of mediocrity, a reflection of the world around them, which called for some creative use of characterization.
With Shelley's character, I used her poetry to offer the readers a gauge into her ever-crumbling psyche. If one compares the different poems she "shares" throughout the novel, obvious differences in style, language, and content give clues about her standing with the world. With that said, I'm curious about readers' responses to the progression (or in Shelley's case, regression) that occurs in Shelley's poetry through the course of the story.
Thanks for reading!
For those who missed my interview but would still like to catch it, you can listen to the archived show by clicking on the audio stream:
Thanks for listening--I hope you enjoy!