Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writer's Notes 4

We’ve come to the end of the thirteen-month long run of short stories that comprise The Long Range.  Here are some notes on the final three stories.

April’s tale, HONEST WORK, is a Heinlein pastiche, a tribute to the grandmaster of SF.  The idea for a professional witness came from his Stranger in a Strange Land and setting it on a space station from The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.  R.A.H. was such a huge influence on me for such a long time that it’s inconceivable to me to not try and write like him, although that’s exactly what I’ve been conscious of not doing, especially while I was writing this story.  Heinlein made SF sexy and real.  I wrote this story while thinking of the things I’d learned from reading Ray Bradbury and then putting a little more of myself into it.  I think I achieved a little more of my ‘voice’ in this story and it has that going for it, though it’s probably not the most satisfying ending for anyone but me.  It does, however, set up Emily as the major villain of the piece, rather than Brahmen.  He’s the energy behind her, but it’s her that’s doing most of the work.

In SOUL STRIPPER (a nod to AC/DC, there) it was imperative that even though Bettie left Frank behind (again) that I didn’t wallow in that.  We’re all insecure enough that when our loved ones keep acting the same way over and over and over we start to think a lot of strange things. Frank, however, is so focused on his work that he doesn’t.  It’s not that he doesn’t care, he’s just more involved in finding answers.  Thus, he was the perfect person to take over Strangiato’s role as the Seeker.  When I wrote …LIKE THEY ARE, I knew Strangiato was going to die.  How he died was interesting and none of anyone’s business, at least not for now, but I will admit that I was surprised at who Bettie turned out to be.  I didn’t know that until Frank did, but it made sense and explained a lot about why Bettie behaved the way she did. 

I love the setting of The Well, and I hope that someday I’ll return to it to tell a more compelling story.

Finally, the last story to be written and the last story in the cycle, READER ended up being a lot longer than I originally intended.  We had to go back to the castle to find out what happened to Marion.  You remember the odd dreams in THE INSULATED MAN?  No?  Well, they set up the end.  Way back then, I knew Marion was coming back, the same way that I knew what was in the box at the end of TELLER.  To answer one question: No, Ray isn’t me.  Yes, TELLER was a wish/dream of mine, but Ray isn’t me as is evidenced by the end of READER.  The lush foliage they walk through to get to the floating house was inspired by Roger Dean’s great album covers, in case you were wondering.

READER was a story that really took on a life of its own.  It owes a great deal to the aforementioned Ray Bradbury and to the fact that during the entire run of The Long Range I had been reading a lot.  That’s probably the biggest thing that influenced the work.  Next week I’ll share what amounts to being an Afterword of thoughts about the entire project, why I started doing it and what’s coming up next.

Thank you to everyone who’s been reading and especially commenting.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this.  There’s more to come. 

Click here for A Kind of Afterword.

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