|Creating a novel is a long,|
My brain works on what I call the “Saturate and Distill” method. Maybe all the beer I drank in college influenced my brain cells to act like a liquor still or maybe I was just "Born this Way."
But for whatever reason, I take in loads of information, then let it tumble around inside my head for a while. When the info is sufficiently distilled, I get inspired and puke up stuff onto the page. In this stage I’m working fast and furious, trying to get it all down. I try not to think or second-guess or question myself. I try to shut my conscious self down and allow all that stuff I learned to mix with my own life experiences, the collective unconscious, my own unconscious self and maybe even what some call divine inspiration. Mix well and out comes a story.
In the first go round I’m just looking to get a beginning middle and end. A lot of what happens in this first draft will be cut. Some of it is dialogue that I, the writer, need to hear but you, the reader, would get bored and thrown off track if I leave it in. Or maybe its just wrong turns the characters take. That’s cool, the characters need to figure out who they are and what they’re about. But you, the reader, don’t want to read what sometimes reads back like someone’s diary.
The first draft, the beautiful period of imagination and discovery, is only the beginning. Some writers have said that the first draft is about figuring out what the book is about. You write a first draft, put it away for a while, then pull it out and read it through. And hopefully you have that “Aha” moment when you say, “So that’s what it’s all about!”
|Cover art for "Emily's House"|
Coming Late Fall, 2011
But man, what a difference it makes. The “Emily’s House” I just turned over to the editor bears little resemblance to the “Emily’s House” it was last August at the end of the first draft phase.
The other reason that I’m not going to promise readers a new book every three months is because my books tend to require a lot of research. Why?
Because I create new takes on existing mythologies. In “Emily’s House,” my starting point was pre-Christian Celtic mythology. But my early research revealed the tantalizing fact that the Celts originated east of modern-day Europe and they were influenced by Vedic traditions out of India.
Add a little Celtic mythology with some Buddhist philosophy, stir in some Vedic thought, and voila! A new mythology is born, one that feels familiar but is not exactly like anything else.
Screech! This past week I’m like a car factory re-tooling for a new model. My brain has to dump faeries and torcs and enchanted wells and particle colliders. Now I’m streaming “Ancient Aliens” on Netflix and reading about the 1947 crash in Roswell and about alien abductions. I’m filling up on alien mythology now as my brain sifts and filters and distills it, creating its own alien mythology.
In my current work in progress, “H.A.L.F.”, the main character Erika Holt will meet up with Tex, an alien-human hybrid who is traipsing through the desert trying to escape from the U.S. government facility where he was created. What starts as Friday night good times in the desert for Erika and her friends, Ian and Kyle, ends up being a nightmare of three teens and a hybrid against the might of the U.S. government.
I’m a huge sci-fi fan and thought I already knew a lot about alien mythology. I was wrong. As I began reading articles and books, I realized there was a whole lot more to the alien mythology than I realized. Then I began watching episode after episode of “Ancient Aliens” streaming on Netflix and I realized that not only must Giorgio Tsoukalos be an alien because there’s no other explanation for how he can get his hair to do that, but that this alien mythology thing is expanding so much, it is in fact replacing Judeo-Christian religion for a lot of people. Ancient alien theorists have replaced God the Creator with Alien the Creator. This is BIG mythology being made right now, today.
What is coming out of this research are twists and turns I didn’t initially see coming for “H.A.L.F.” And what started out as one book I now see as three because the alien mythology and government conspiracy theory are just too big – and too much fun – for only one book!
Time to get back to writing. I’m excited to get “H.A.L.F.” into your hands so you can meet Erika and Tex and their nemesis, Commander Sturgis, a bad-ass military scientist with a chip on her shoulder and something to prove.
Have you had an encounter with a UFO? Anything strange ever happen to you that you can’t explain?
And if you haven’t had an encounter but enjoy alien sci-fi stories and movies, why do you think we can’t get enough of aliens?