Saturday, November 1, 2014

The New Project

Years ago, I created an alternate universe version of Lavinia Whateley who survived the Dunwich Horror incident and continued to live on in secret. I did a lot of background work for it and even role-played the character here and there, but the actual project never materialized. It got shelved, along with several others, as I tried to focus on two other novels I was revising. I tend to be the kind of person who comes up with too many story ideas to focus on at once, so this was nothing unusual.
"Somebody get me a goddamn drink."

Recently, however, my partner made contact with his long lost (hasn't seen since he was four) mom, and she turned out to be a horror writer as well. We both love Lovecraft, and the idea of co-writing something in the Mythos came up. I did a write-up of Lavinia's alternative history, and the idea took off from there. Right now I am working on the first chapter of a tongue-in-cheek modern Mythos story involving Lavinia, a plucky and very eccentric supernatural investigator, the obligatory horrible cultists, and an escaped pet that isn't exactly a poodle.

Lovecraft lends itself so well to black humor that I'm surprised that it doesn't get that treatment more often. I think the key is to keep that same undertone of doomed-world desolation, and the constant struggle against madness and evil, that exists in the original. You can't just take the trappings and go goofy with it.  You have to use humor, in large part anyway, as a coping mechanism, both for the reader and the characters. You have to portray these characters as living in a darker world than our own--one which may not technically be on the brink of destruction, but has a bunch of crazy idiots running around on it who would very much like to push it there.

My Lavinia, partly out of a deep hatred for her father and elder son, has no patience for doomsday cultists. She is a snarky, embittered, pot-smoking, semi-recovering alcoholic who has made her peace with the fact that the world will someday end, yet has no desire to help the process along. She likes being an obsessively scholarly, slightly batty immortal witch. And even though she has a terrifying side to her, most of the time she just wants to pore over her hoard of occult books, play with her familiar and surf the Net. Unfortunately, as the only Whateley with any conscience or interest in her neighbors, she also has to do things like go out and kill whatever monster has decided to nest in the hills lately. (She then tends to eat or sacrifice them. She's still a quarter Deep One.)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to plowing through this chapter, and it's high time I get back to it. One of the best things about co-writing is that you have someone waiting on the next chapter. That's a great motivator!

Lifequake, and Starting Over

Hi, and welcome to my writer's blog. I'm kind of doing a gut remodel of the whole thing, so please don't mind the current lack of content. I'll be fixing that soon.

I didn't make the decision to revise my blog lightly. In fact it was made under fairly extraordinary circumstances. Without getting into too many unpleasant details, I have severe health issues that have only recently started receiving real treatment, and my economic circumstances have put me under tremendous strain. I also live in a neighborhood which could provide content for episodes of Cops for about the next decade. It's not fun. We're actually currently fleeing after being stuck there for seven years--and believe me, that is a relief.

My past entries were written under tremendous strain, as I came to understand the problems with the current publishing model, how e-publishing might be my best option, and how modern writers are facing a dilemma--take the traditional route and try the lottery odds that they become the next J. K. Rowling, or explore e-publishing, self publishing and other alternative routes. Those who take the latter road are more likely to see results, and can avoid the bottom-rung treatment which most writers endure in traditional publishing. However, they risk being taken far less seriously by most people than their traditional counterparts, and that stigma can be hard to take. I agonized over this decision for almost a decade before I decided to focus on the road less taken, and I was very honest about my frustrations.

Now that we have an escape strategy from our current situation in place, and I have a plan for my writing career from here on, I decided to have a look at how I was presenting myself online. I read back over my whole blog, every surly, clue-bat-wielding, probably-sometimes-over-sharing bit of it, and found myself debating. Delete it and start over? Preserve it as is? Preserve some of it? On the one hand, I still stand behind much of what I said. On the other hand, my lack of diplomacy or subtlety bothers me now that I am no longer under such extreme stress. And if it bothers me, it was likely bothering other people.

I didn't delete anything. I have a lot of good information I want to preserve for people's use, and I have my entire writer's resume to redo, including a lot of link updating. Now that I have actual time to do so, I can handle all of this without a lot of lengthy delays.