A Life Of Fiction CXLV

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

That novel you never wrote: I have heard many people say that they think that they could write a novel. My response to that is that they should do so. It is not that hard to write a novel. it is just a matter of having an original idea, and then investing the necessary time to actually write the book. There are plenty of people with ideas. But, when it comes to actually writing the book, there are many people who, put off by the amount of time needed, don’t even make a start.

Then there are those who start a book and give up partway through. They maybe write the first twenty thousand words and become daunted by how much they still have left to write. But, if you were planning, say, for eighty thousand words, then at twenty thousand words you are already halfway to being halfway through the book. Do another twenty thousand and you have reached the peak of the hill of that particularly literary obstacle. You should be able to coast downhill from then on, gathering speed as you go. That was how it went with my first novel, The Absinthe Club. I picked up speed as I neared the end of the book, with the finish line in sight. Really, it is just getting halfway which is the hard thing. Once you have got halfway then all that you have to do is to repeat, basically, the amount of work which you have already done. If you can do it once you can do it twice.

So if any of you have unfinished novels on the hard drives of your computers, or taking up space in your sock drawer, get them out and carry on with them. All that it takes is time and a certain amount of bloody-mindedness, and you will have a nice shiny new novel. It will have been completed. And, compared with finding a publisher, you will find that writing the novel is the easy part.

I suppose that, to a certain extent, that I belong to the second group, as I have a lot of novels which are on hiatus, as I spend my time finishing off other works. But I do complete things, whether short story collections or poetry or novels. Eventually they all do get done, even if there is a gap of many years between starting the works and completing it.

These are just a few of my unfinished novels. One day, they will be complete. It is only a matter of time:

The Moon Blues: This is a novel about a werewolf, from the point of view of the werewolf. I have written some of the boyhood of the character. But I paused because I wanted to get it right, and I felt that I wasn’t quite sure of how the novel progressed. This will definitely be completed at some stage, just because I love the title.

1977: This will be a horror novel set in London in 1977. It involves a search for a missing girl, and a few ideas taken from a horror RPG (without breaking copyright) which I used to run for my friends.

A Murder in Berlin: This is a murder mystery set in the Germany of the Weimar republic. It is a period which has fascinated me ever since I saw the film Cabaret. But I still need to do a lot more research to do justice to the period.

Murder at Muir Castle: This is a Victorian murder mystery set in a snowbound Scottish castle. Some of the novel is plotted out. But, being a murder mystery, it will need a lot finer plotting before I am willing to carry on with it.

For Queen and Country: This, when completed, will be a gas-lamp fantasy novel, and the first to feature the female secret agent called Raphael in a starring role.

The Endless Army of Fu Manchu: This will be my third Fu Manchu novel, when completed. The other two have not yet been published as the character is still under copyright, and I’m not about to break the law. As it is under copyright there is no rush with this story, and it has gone on the back burner for now.

Parker Trent, Roving Reporter: This features a character who I introduced in the Duffield and Parkinson novel Captain Renegade. This novel is set in the New York of my gas-lamp fantasy / pulp era world. It will feature organised crime, speakeasies, and all of the other things associated with the era of Prohibition.

Ravenstair: This is a Sherlock Holmes novel. I am going very slowly on this one, as I want it to seem like a Holmes novel, without it being a pastiche of Conan Doyle.

Pest Control: I had the idea for this while waiting for a bus. It features a pest control service for vampires and zombies and other things which go bump in the dark. The idea was to treat such creatures as being pests in the same way that wasps and rats are pests. The novel is almost half-completed. But I have had to take a pause as I don’t quite have the ending sorted out inside my head. When I think that I have the ending perfect I will carry on with writing it.

Rejection: I had the idea for this novella when looking through all of the rejection slips which I have had from publishers. In this novella a rejected writer becomes a serial killer, using his own novels as inspiration for killing the people who have rejected him.

The Horror Show: In this novel a group of horror staples – werewolf, ghoul, etc – are gathered together to form a covert military group, sent in to solve those sorts of problems which normal people could never do. I know, roughly, how this novel will go. But it’s just about finding the time to go back to it and finish it off. There’s always some other great idea which I find that I want to work on instead.

The Coven of the Blood: My gas-lamp fantasy world did not have vampires. They were only legends. But, with this novel, I decided to introduce blood-drinkers into my books. The thing, though, was to keep the same spirit as in my other works. I had to give my own spin to the old vampire myth, to try and make something fresh and new. There’s no point in rewriting Dracula.

Élan: I began writing this after playing the computer game Final Fantasy VII for the umpteenth time. I wanted a novel which evoked the feeling of the Final Fantasy games, without ripping off Squaresoft. The novel is basically a fantasy novel, but with some elements of technology, and a search for a lost society of the past.

All the Stars in Heaven: This is my retelling of the legend of the Nine Dozen Heroes. There was a television series (The Water Margin) and a series of computer games (Suikoden). Rather than setting my novel in China I have transposed the action to an alien world in the far future. This allows me to do what I want with the story and the characters.

The Green Kingdom: This is another novel set in my gas-lamp fantasy world. It deals with faeries in my gas-lamp world. They are an element which has never appeared in any of my stories until now, although they have been hinted at in a couple of my Briggs and Prenderghast short stories. The main character in the novel is a Church of England priest – one who has just retired from his clerical duties.

The Land of the Dead: Another one set in my gas-lamp fantasy world. This one is set in Russia, featuring all new characters. It comes from an idea which I had for a scenario for the Russia supplement for my Gas-Lamp Fantasy Role-Playing Game.

1589: This was an idea which I had for a superhero team set in the late sixteenth century, just after the time of the Spanish Armada. I sent the premise to both Marvel Comics and DC Comics, hoping that I might somehow become a comic book writer. But neither of them bothered to respond to me. I didn’t get a rejection letter. Not even so much as don’t give up the day job. After several years of the basic premise lying fallow on my computer I decided to write it up, but as a novel. I’ve done the opening few thousand words. But the rest of the work lies in my literary future. It will get written at some stage, if only so that I can do work on a sequel.

Dr Crow: The idea for this novel came to me after I saw a television programme about supposed monsters. There was one section of the programme about the Melon-heads. They were people who had been seen in America. The legend was that they were formerly children who had been experimented on by a mad doctor. It seemed like an interesting idea for a horror novel.

Assassins: This, when completed, will be the sixth Duffield and Parkinson novel, coming after The Cult Of The Black Bane. I know how the novel begins, and I know how it ends, but I am still working out details about the middle section of the book. At the moment there is not enough there even for a novella. there are several other novels planned featuring the same characters.

Get Tesla!: This, when completed, will be what is referred to as Teslapunk. It will concern a group of industrialists who are out to discredit Nikola Tesla. It will definitely not be a biography. Personally I think that Tesla was one of the greatest geniuses which this world has ever seen; and he was the true creator of the radio. The radio which Marconi put together utilised seventeen Tesla patents. Seventeen! I really must sir down and work out the skeleton of the plot of this novel.

K Vs K: This concerns duelling agents who can travel through time to alternate timelines. Not only that, but the agents can download bodies which are archetypes – and some of the bodies can virtually be super-powered. For example, one such body could be the archetype of Count Dracula from the Bram Stoker novel. I will have to be careful not to pick anything which is still in copyright. Which is a shame, as there are a lot of superheroes which, otherwise, I would have liked to have used. But I don’t fancy being sued by DC Comics or Marvel. I began writing this as soon as the idea came to mind, just to get a few words down. But I still have to plan out the vast bulk of the novel. I have to still decide on an ending.

The White: The idea for this novel came from a television programme about UFOs, and another one about conspiracies. Conspiracies are very bad as far as the treatments of facts are concerned. But they are a very fertile ground as far as ideas for novels are concerned. This novel will be set in Antarctica, following the end of the Second World War. I’m not going to give any more details than that.

Blackhaven: This is another gas-lamp fantasy novel, and features Lady Blackhaven, one of my favourite characters from the world which I created. I just haven’t had the time to carry on with this novel at the moment. But, by waiting, I can work out all of the details. I suspect that when I do carry on with it that I will write it very quickly.

Are You Dreamworthy: This is the novella version of a short story. I was thinking about the short story and I realised that it needn’t end where it did, but could be extended into a novella. The story is weird, and concerns the world of dreams, as may be evinced by considering the title. Unlike the short story the novella is related in the first person.

Well, that’s it for another post. I have no idea what I will be writing about next time.


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