Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Skip Week 4: Writer's Notes

Welcome to the Notes for the last three stories here at The Long Range. I am so grateful for the folks who’ve taken the time to comment. It’s nice to know that I’m not just writing into the void with my little project here. All the friends I’ve made online since I started this last June have been great. Thank you, everyone, for coming around. No new story this week because, well, because it’s a built-in skip week and everyone needs a rest now and then don’t they?

On to the Notes!

DON’T TAKE ME ALIVE is a second trip to the Well, that place in the future where those who are declaimed by the government to be ‘immoral’ are imprisoned. Inspired by my misunderstanding of the lyrics to a Steely Dan song, it’s a pretty straightforward story with characters pretty clearly on one side or the other, I think. This story foreshadows Frank’s ultimate fate in The Long Range.

His stories have been the hardest to write partly because I didn’t understand the Well as much as I thought I did and not nearly as much as I needed to. I’ve got a lot of notes on the concept and as I’ve mentioned before, I think it may need to be a longer work to explore everything that the Well is about. These stories certainly provide the backbone I’ll need later on if I decide to go there.

One of the things I’ve learned in doing this project is how much I didn’t know. Storytelling is a lot harder than the masters make it look, but that’s no excuse. I imagine that a master storyteller will admit how much had to be learned before becoming a master and you’re lucky you get to see me doing it in public. I try to keep my other questionable habits to myself, just so you know.

I got quite a few comments here and there about “The Receivers” as it was running and it may be the most popular story I’ve written. The Insulated Man may be the most odd story I’ve written and so the two meet in SENDER. The future is always tricky, but viewing it from the perspective of someone who’s lived through a great deal of the past and has even been imprisoned for a long stretch of it was interesting to me. Yes, Armstrong Story is the Scribe, and Em has been mentioned before (in “The Receivers”) and seen (in “Two Hands”). She ‘s the agent of Brahmen’s machinations throughout The Long Range.

Which brings up the question – Who is Brahmen? You can Wiki the name if you want to, but my take on the entity is that Brahmen is the Adversary to the Chondria, who the magical characters around here are optimally working for. That’s really all you need to know. Yes, there’s a larger story going on in the background, but I don’t know if I’ll ever tell it. Is it sufficient to know that I know what’s going on and am purposely keeping it from you?

Writing A MONSTER IN REPOSE was the most fun I’ve had in months. This story combines my childhood memories of H.P. Lovecraft’s tales (I haven’t read any of them in two decades or more) with my love of comic book storytelling. Jimmy Cavanaugh and Eyre are supporting characters to my monster hunter Ben Rose, whose last name is a tribute to Matt Wagner’s Grendel. Jimmy’s original iteration was in a 24-page comic that I wrote and was drawn by me and two other (way more talented) artists way back in the year 2000. He’s my favorite comic book creation and his inclusion in The Long Range was really a no-brainer. At this point in his history, he’s the youngest of the long-lived characters (Eyre, Armstrong Story and Strangiato being the others in order of youngest to oldest).

I also took the opportunity to name-drop some friends, reference a favorite story and just play around for a while in that world. It’s not as well defined as I’d like it to be and it ran longer than my self-imposed 6000 word limit, but it was just too much fun to stop. Unlike a lot of the other stories in The Long Range, this one had no life before I began this work. It came from a brainstorming session I had last summer where I’d been listening to a lot of old time radio and reading comics for several days. It came in a flurry of notes and then had to sit while I was writing other stories first. When it came time to commit to writing it, the actual work went too quickly. I think there might be other stories of the Monster Hunters. Would you be interested in reading them?

While I was writing this story and exploring the idea of Ben’s brother, I was struck by so many other ideas that it seemed that being dreamed into existence wasn’t maybe that much of a stretch. I’ve been filling page after page in my little spiral notebook with snippets and short, one-paragraph descriptions of stories that I want to tell. I don’t think there’s going to be a shortage of tales coming from me. This will be the year of trying to break into publishing with short stories. So that’s yet to come, and while I’m doing that I’ll have to decide which stories will be released here exclusively and which I’ll sell. Perhaps I should build a poll to let you guys help me decide. What do you think?

So now we’re heading into the home stretch: there are only three stories left in The Long Range. April sees an adventure on the space station Norrin Radd in “Honest Work” that recalls events from “Disconnect” and is an homage to my favorite SF writer Robert A. Heinlein. Then in May we visit Frank on the outside of the Well when he solves the mystery of the “Soul Stripper”. Finally, in June, the thirteenth story that wraps up a lot of character arcs, answers some questions you may have and creates a lot of havoc across Time is a nice bookend to the very first story in this series, “Teller”. I hope you’ll be here for “Reader”, and all the other stories I’ve endeavored to bring to you.

Cheers.

P.S. - the photos are the inspiration for the castle in "Teller", the park bandstand in "Disconnect", the engine of Strangiato's train and the depot at Lawrence looking west in case you were interested.