I have actually stopped reading the second book in his John Clever series, Mr. Monster to come say that Dan Wells has got to be one of the bravest writers that I have come across in recent memory. The first book in the series is a pretty brave and fun departure from what we would normally call Young Adult. For those who haven’t heard, let me give you some backstory.
The first book is called “I Am Not A Serial Killer” and it’s about a boy in high school who actually has the tendencies of a serial killer and is trying to fight the urge to kill. His world is turned upside down when another serial killer comes to his small town and rouses the monster inside of him. Mr. Monster is the sequel to that.
What sets the book apart from a lot of fiction about serial killers is that it’s told from the boy’s, John Clever, perspective and gives insight into him and his thoughts. Some of it gets down right twisted, but there’s a moment in the second book where all of this comes to a head. I can’t believe what I just read.
I was thrilled and worried and excited and disappointed all at once. This is the kind of writing that we need to see more of out there. There was great risk in what he wrote and I wanted to capture the excitement of what I had just read. I think I have more respect for someone who does something risky and exciting (even if it fails) than someone who plays it safe and just does well. That’s why I respect the movie Sucker Punch, because it was basically a failed battering ram all about feminism and it kind of failed to hit home. That’s why I really respect Spec Ops the Line, because that game succeeded in it’s mission to make players feel like horrible power hunger children for playing it.
And with Wells the ultimate result lies in what the rest of this book and the book after it have in store for me. Something tells me I won’t be disappointed.
Part of me has always wanted to do something in this genre and something recently flipped inside of me and I think I am going to try it. Maybe not a novel at first but something short. I never write short fiction and this seems like a good place to start.
Steampunk has always held a special place in my heart, well since I realized what it was that I was actually seeing. But the mixture of the beautiful Victorian fashions with the wood and brace laced technological advancements that would have been envisioned by people from that time period just make me giddy. I know that’s a really strange thing to say.
I’m approaching this in a new way, for me at least, I’m doing an outline and taking this one slow. I have two large projects going on and another one that’s bouncing around inside of my head. This will be something I can keep short, possibly to shop around to magazines and websites later as a sort of show of my work.
Having new ideas is just exciting for me. I went so long without them that I don’t even know how to react. Don’t worry, though. Keep Austin Safe is at the forefront of things right now.
I decided to do some research for Keep Austin Safe. Part of what I had planned was more or less asking questions to friends I knew just about their feelings and experiences. I’m well aware now that as a man I can’t accurately write a woman without knowing a bit more about their perspective. I mean, I wrote Holly for years—but she was based on a woman that I knew well enough that I could practically tell what she was thinking from a text. I didn’t need to work to hard to figure out her actions.
But the three women in Keep Austin Safe, Maddy, Wendy and Annemarie are more foreign to me. I made them up, but when I make up a new character it’s like meeting a new person. I have to spend time getting to know them.
In a bid to understand women better and get to know these ladies and just write a story that wouldn’t be as stereotypically written with tropes that played off the same ideals we see putting women down in other books they star in. I started off trying to do something without romance at it’s center. What I ended up doing was pouring over Feminist blogs, articles and at times news. I have actually written a post for a Feminist website, so I’m not a stranger to the kinds of things there.
But I never read about much of the day to day life and what started it all and gave me the idea to check these kinds of things was this article about a woman on a train. I was shocked by it because of the number of women I knew and on the article relating similar stories. the deeper I looked into the whole thing the more I realized it was very common. Blogs here and here illustrate the point pretty well—the second one is actually about a book called Hush Hush and it’s terribly creepy plot. It was a best seller, by the way.
Now I’m still going to write this thing and I’m going to doo my best to tell a good story with it, but the research has me feeling more guilty than inspired. Partly because the behavior is so ingrained in our culture that it has you second guessing every thought you have as a man (and probably a woman) and also guilty because even though I’ve never seriously done anything to make someone uncomfortable I have seen far worse done and been in places where it was common and acceptable and everyone just accepts it.
Doing my best to hold the thoughts about the narrative and what I’ve learned clear and utilize the things I now know in the story and in real life. But it’s a shock to read some of this stuff because you just don’t do it yourself. You learn it’s not decent to put your hands on random girls in buses or clubs or bars and you take care to avoid it. You never think about how often that happens or how often someone whistles at a woman or stares her down like meat.
In the end it just makes me feel disgusted with society, but I know society’s gotten better. And that’s the scariest thing.
Anyone who says that emotional exhaustion is not the same as just being tired doesn’t know a thing. I am finding out more and more the toll that something that’s not physically strenuous at all can take on us if we’re just not feeling up to it and in a bad place for it. Writing has been nearly impossible for me before this past week and my efforts to remedy it have been worthless for the most part.
I managed to put some words down on the page earlier this week and being off for four days in a row will really help. But there is so much distraction when I’m off. The biggest one being the fact that I am super tired. Last night I slept from about ten hours straight, which is a lot for me seeing as how I normally can’t manage over six.
I am hoping that today while I’m stuck in the house, I can get something productive done. I owe the guy running our game some writing on my character, I need to get a few thousand words cranked out on Keep Austin Safe and I need to do some work with character building for the characters in the book.
Well, I guess all that’s left is to get cracking.
It was around the time that I searched for Dragon Names that I think this would make an interesting blog topic. Mostly because there’s some pretty wild stuff in my search query. Here is a list of just some of the wild things I’ve looked up:
-Women’s and Men’s Fashion
-Islamic views on Lucifer/Satan
-Various names of Demons, Monsters, etc
-Examples of Eldritch Horrors
-Types of Time Travel Theory
-Various words in other languages (especially Latin)
-Krav Maga gun disarms
-Google Map searches for things all over the world
-The Tower of Babel
-Surviving a free fall from a plane
-Gunshot wound care
-How much blood can you use before you black out
-Copyright and usage law
Fun times. There’s not much I can say about this…except wipe your cookies regularly folks.
With the season seven premiere of Doctor Who this past Saturday a lot of the talk has been about the approach of a new Companion. Companions and Doctors have for a long time been a measure of eras in the show. It’s not a small wonder that fans tend to get jittery when the ‘times they are a-changin’. But this new girl looks to be alright.
What I wanted to really discuss here was something not Doctor Who related (believe me it will be hard) but something that relates back to the topic of eras changing.
The theme of change is pretty much universal in literature, but there’s something deeper and more profound that marks an era—usually an overall theme that encompasses several smaller changes. With that definition it should be easy to see how hard it would be to actually write about something as large as a change in era or a change to the way an era thinks.
It takes a lot to look back at the Civil Rights movement here in the United States and say something like “alright, all of this is the same AND there’s a Zombie Apocalypse going on!” and then write a story about that.
Essentially you have to love what you’re doing and really make the effort to make the era seem realistic or, in the case of the above example, adjust the real era to fit the newly introduced elements.
I’ve recently decided to stop with the whole “hidden world” plot that most urban fantasy uses and do a world just like ours where many of the things we call fantasy (like Goblins, Werewolves, Vampires and Dragons) are real. It’s been taxing on the planning of things to the point that I wonder if the effect and the change to many of the characters are worth it. I like the idea and I honestly think that with all of the cameras and things around in cities these days it’s more realistic. But at the same time I am wondering if it’s too much.
And there is the real dilemma, because I’ve basically decided that not only do I want to do this. But I want it to have been the case for all of history. These things will have existed and interacted with us at every era of human society. How does the Civil War look with Vampires? What do people do when there’s a living Dragon who can remember Jesus and spoke with him? What happens to things like racism?
You can see how there’s a lot here to sort out.
Btw, if you’re wondering how I felt about Doctor Who—I am thinking about doing weekly reviews. I will have to watch this latest episode over though.