I don’t know how I’m ever going to keep all of these stories straight in my head. I keep trying to write down notes to keep track of it all, but they come so fast and it’s hard to get organized. I go around with a notebook all day, flipping back and forth between pages; when they are filled, or start to fall out, I rip them out and put them in separate binders, or sit down at the computer and transcribe them to disk.
There is the story of Sylena/Chelynne, a series currently planned in eight or nine novels and possibly some short stories on the side. I’m trying to develop the culture of one of the continents (I’ve got five). Language, religion, calendar, government, astronomy, agriculture. Everything has to be cross-referenced. For religion, for example, religious structure/worship is tied closely to government, because I’m attempting to construct a theocracy; creating the pantheon of gods requires knowledge of the calendar and seasons of Arkia, and then when I have the pantheon I can go reorganize the monthly calendar around festivals for specific gods, and then I have to go to the language and invent all the words and phrases to express all these concepts. I am faced with difficult decisions: is cheese important enough in Arqan life to warrant a god or just a patron saint? How many lovers does Omer have? Do I have a good gender balance of gods/goddesses in terms of numbers and relative power of each? Then all of this has to be written down quickly before I forget.
Then there’s the vampire trilogy, which I will be naming one of these days — maybe the Curse of the Prasolovs? The Perverse Prasolovs? Psychic Vampire-Slaying for Dummies? I have no idea. I have to write down my ideas for rewriting/re-organizing the first novel, Death Lurks Here. I’m still working on Desire the Night, which is almost finished; I might be changing the title since it doesn’t quite make sense — who desires the night and why? I guess I was thinking of cheesy goth poetry when I came up with the title: “I make love to the night (bleah).” Maybe Desire of the Night, or Desire in the Night, or The Night’s Desire. Something which expresses the dark tone of the story, and the stronger emphasis on sex than the previous novel, without sounding too much like straight-up erotica.
I’m also making plans for the third novel, which I will most likely write this upcoming November. I really hope I can revise the other two stories before then, but I don’t know how likely this is given my irregular writing schedule. Tentative title is Hunting for Anastasiya, which most likely won’t stick. Anyways, I already have the basic plot and I’m just starting on the chapter breakdown now. Before I write it, though, I want to have my info from the first two novels much more organized. This will most likely involve drawing several family trees: descent by birth for certain characters, and then for the vampires, who’s bitten who. All terribly exciting, I’m sure. And I still need to work out the logistics on exactly what my vampires are, how they work and all that nice jazz.
On a side note, I’ve never felt 100% comfortable with the idea that I am devoting so much time and energy to novels that have come to revolve almost solely around vampires. I must admit, I am a little intrigued with the concept of vampires, but I have never seen a book, movie, game, or other type of story which used vampires in a way that I liked. (Similar to my issue with visual depictions of dragons: no one quite makes them the way that I envision them, and so many of the popular ones are just downright ugly to me. The closest to my idea of dragons is M. Pena’s Windstone sculptures, which is why I own so many of them.) And so many out there are horrible cliches. I feel badly for writing stories that will inevitably be compared with Anne Rice and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I keep telling myself things like this is something that I was doing for a change of pace in my writing, or the vampires aren’t the real focus of the story, or even that favorite egotistical statement of writers: I’ll do them better than everyone else! (And then everyone will bow in awe.)
I guess that I just can’t really respect myself, because I’ve never respected someone else who used vampires. I admit that a large part of this is the fact that I have not actually done much comparison of horror in general. I’m so scared of the cliches that I haven’t done the legwork to find something that’s actually worthy of respect. I am a horrible snob. What business have I to judge, let alone write in, a genre that I do not even read? So I keep telling myself that I should actually go out and read something, but then I would be admitting that my own vampire stories were important enough to warrant this effort, and it continues like a vicious cycle.
Okay, I have to modify this statement a little: I have read some horror. I eat up The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror like candy, and I’m very sad that Terri Windling has stopped editing this anthology. And one author that I do enjoy sometimes is Charles de Lint (who is urban fantasy, I know, but let me finish my thought); his novels are a little too Happy Fluffy Pagan or just plain bleah for me, but I enjoy a number of his short stories. And one of his short stories that I read and enjoyed somewhat was about a vampire. So I could say that he is an author that I do respect to some degree, and who has used vampires without the cliches. However, I have no desire to emulate him in practically any way, and this doesn’t do much to help my ego, as it were.
However, there may yet be hope. I just found out that Robin McKinley has just released a new book called Sunshine, all about, you guessed it, vampires. Of course, I’m going to read it, even though this is a drastic departure from all those high adventure/fantasy novels she’s been writing for years. Although I was pretty disappointed by her last novel, The Spindle’s End (she writes great Beauty & the Beast reworkings, but not Sleeping Beauty; kudos gotta go to Jane Yolen and Ursula K. Le Guin for my favorite versions of that one), I’ve loved some of her novels for a long time. In fact, I consider The Hero and the Crown to not only be one of my favorite books of all time, but a strong influence on my work. I’d be proud to write like McKinley.
Now, if only I could find a bookstore that has this. I’ve been trying to support local stores, but no one seems to be carrying it. There’s still some more places to check, but I might have to order from Amazon for this one, and if I do that then I may get sucked in to ordering a bunch of other books I haven’t been able to find locally since it’s been so long since the last time I ordered books online, and given that I’m not working right now I don’t exactly have the money to blow on books . . . sigh.
In addition to these major projects, I also have notes for a few other stories. The fantasy story involving Ceres and a nasty demon. A sci-fi reworking of Beauty & the Beast using virtual reality. A truly geeky story about the Human Genome Project (although this will involve more research about DNA). And of course, that thing with the princess and the unicorn because you can’t deny your roots. Maybe I could do a take-off on some of my stories from the writing workshop last fall, especially the one with the mage-musicians. Also, sooner or later, I do want to finish The Chronicles of an Azalea.
It’s overwhelming sometimes to think about all that I want to do when it comes to writing. I remember when I used to have all this time for writing, but I didn’t know what to write about. Now I am plagued with too many ideas and not enough time to put them to paper.