Evidently, my friend and fellow author Michael Michaud was a great fan of tag when he was in grade school, because I find myself suddenly “it” for this assignment.
In truth, it couldn’t have come at a more serendipitous time, so to Michael, I’d like to say two things: “Thank you” and, “Are there tag backs?”
(I’m going to assume there are no tag backs, so at least two more scribblers will soon find themselves on the hunt very shortly…)
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
Finishing what I start. That’s what I’m doing these days, in a very broad sense. In a more specific sense, I am completing a concept I began three years ago, a metaphysical drama called “Overlife”. More than my first book, a sci-fi romance called “Convergence”, this one has forced me to grow and learn in order to get it to the point where I can say that completion is a possibility. I’ve restarted it six or seven times now. The current and final edition is also a partial merger of another idea I had that never moved with any velocity: a coming of age story featuring a character named Aelia, modeled after someone I know in real life who merits her own personage in print.
Through the endless cha-cha of two steps-forward, one step back in developing this story, I’ve come to understand what Thomas Edison famously grasped: I didn’t have seven failed attempts to finish the novel, I just found seven ways that didn’t work. Accepting that has done wonders for my self-esteem, helping me to drop the guilt story about how it should have been done and just get it done.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
Before you go on, go freshen up your coffee. This will be something of a long read.
Ready? All right, here we go.
Esoterica fascinates me to no end. Secret societies, alternate histories, UFOs, reincarnation, the afterlife: that kind of thing. And I prefer to have a scientific explanation for things: if you come up to me and say you saw a flying saucer, my way of listening to you would be based on making sure you weren’t tripping on balls or developing cataracts. “Overlife” is a way of reconciling the irreconcilable in my head. I’m developing a science of the soul. And I’m doing it in as ordinary a language and as relatable a setting as possible.
Non-science fiction and fantasy fans should get something out of my book. Genre fans already get it: they dig big concepts, they’re always in that headspace. I want a literary version of TV shows like LOST or Fringe, where you get very real human dramas taking place within the framework of an extraordinary, fantastical backdrop. You know, something to give your brain a well-needed entropy break from all those hours of Real Housewives and pretty much all of FOX News.
“Overlife” is a story about a group of dead humans who call themselves the Risen: evolved spirits who maintain the form of the very last body they occupied, and who do not get pulled back into the cycle of reincarnation. The very last life before Rising is usually tumultuous, as the man or woman spends much of his time trying to balance living like a normal person against the intense feelings and urges, impulses, crises, and anxieties of Rising.
On top of that, the pre-Risen tend to attract other pre-Risen into their lives, which just amplifies the intensity of their evolution and, in some cases, accelerates their time to die. Once released, the Risen have dramatic powers: travel at the speed of thought, ability to move through solid objects, the subtle manipulation over physical laws. And they can walk among the living for limited periods of time, though excessive exposure will cause them to “harden” back into their earthly forms, making them vulnerable to death and reincarnation once again.
All the while, a crisis is unfolding on the planet at the time that only a few of the living know about that threatens living and Risen alike, for both require the continued existence of planet Earth to survive.
The main drama is a four-way battle of wits set to the beat of a ticking clock as the world rushes to an unexpected ending. The first takes place between Jacob Ruiz, a pre-Risen Internet entrepreneur who finds himself obsessed with Aelia Fiametta, a writer and painter who is herself struggling with the process of Rising. The second is between Ethan Lee, a loyalist to the Management, the group of Risen who oversee all the new souls, and Octavia Wood, a dead friend of Jacob and Aelia and a rebel who is aligned with the forces blamed for creating the planetary crisis.
When Ethan seduces Aelia to keep her in his sphere of control, Octavia is forced to reveal herself to Jacob and the greater scheme of what is happening. How Jacob reacts to this news and Aelia’s seduction is……something you’ll just have to read in the completed book when it’s out.
WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?
I like a balance of action and visuality with deep meaning and using regular person language. As flowery as I may get sometimes, I’m not a lit-snob. I’ve barely read any of the classics, and that’s not to say I don’t appreciate them, but my focus is just on creating stories and characters that I can relate to based in today’s world. Maybe this comes from spending most of my twenties reading Stephen King and a lot of New Age non-fiction: simple language that carries intricate meanings and grand visions as much as anything that appears on an English course syllabus in university. And it’s popular with the mass markets.
Also, going back to the esoterica for a moment, I also write what I do because, despite my preference for evidence, something in my gut tells me that the supernatural forces that I describe do indeed exist in real life. This kind of writing makes me experience my own world as a far bigger place than what usually shows up during the 9 to 5 drudgery. If my words help the world show up for someone else as a far more fascinating place than they expected, mission accomplished.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?
Getting started is my biggest challenge. Something like a Newtonian law applies to me getting those first words down on the screen, or even getting my ass in the chair. Once I start, though, I don’t stop until the scene is done.
I write scene-by-scene, sometimes chapter by chapter, in little intense bursts, and then I stop. I don’t outline because I like the not-knowing of where things will lead. That being said, I do have an idea of three or four main points that the storyline has to hit so I don’t meander too far into digression.
I also can’t always write at home. I am indeed that guy you see at Starbucks with his laptop and a venti, pounding away at his hapless keyboard. The energy of people in motion and the idea that I went out of my way to come here to write keep me going. And I need music: usually, I keep a YouTube window open so I can play the songs that I don’t feel like buying at that moment, but the headphones are almost always in. That’s when I get the wordflow.
Lucianna LiSacchi is a prolific writer and a dear friend of mine who has just finished her second novel, the coming-of-age drama “Palladia”. She’s also the author of the erotic drama “Mommy’s Little Playgroup”, and has a science fiction concept named “Passageways” that is next in the queue. Being fresh off the completion of a manuscript, I’m sure Luci-loo will have a lot to say about where she has been and how she works.
Amanda Lee is another great friend of mine who has just finished her debut novel “November Rain” and also boasts one of the most successful, insightful blogs I’ve seen. It’s been a while since we’ve really chatted, so I’m curious to see what she comes up with.
Finally, Carrie Bailey, I’m sure, is chomping at the bit to say a few words about her process, having been one of my compatriots in the sci-fi genre and love of caffeine. After spending the last year on the other side of the planet, I’d love to see how her perspective has changed since our last chats seemingly so long ago.
Guess what, ladies? Tag! You’re all it! (And no tag backs).