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This was an actual break in writing.

I should probably not swear in blog titles, right? That’s a “don’t” in blogging, I think. Well…whatever…

About three months ago, just after my little episode, I wrote a 66k-page novel in just under 2 1/2 weeks. Despite being manic, pharmaceutically fucked up, and emotionally-driven to do it, the revision process (or, the editing-in-order-to-do-a-proper-revision process) revealed that it’s actually pretty decent. But I still need to actually do the revision. At this point, facing it seems too difficult, considering the conditions under which it was written. I just need some time away from it, but hopefully not too long. It’s practically finished. I know what the cover will look like. If I sucked it up and worked hard, I could put it out next month.

But I’m not going to do that. It’s just too hard, even if the story itself is probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written.

But I do have a MS that is all ready to go. Here is something I’ve learned about myself: I really have no patience, and by that, I mean, I have no patience with the publishing submission process–certainly in terms of novels. Short stories–I would just sort of send it off and forget about it until the rejection/acceptance email. Not usually something I get bunched up about. Though, short stories aren’t really my thing, I realize. This I’ve learned. I write long. It takes a real effort on my part to keep short stories, well, short, and frankly, that cramps my style. Fucks up the flow. It just isn’t where I’m going when I sit down to write, and the end result, to me, always feels stilted. Sitting down and trying to tell the story I want to tell in the way I need to tell it, while trying to keep it 3k words or fewer–you know, if I ever want to see it published, which is sort of the end goal, really–it’s a pain in the ass. So…novels. Maybe novellas, I haven’t really tried that yet.

That’s not to say I write long novels. I don’t. As far as novels go, they’re fairly short, falling between 60k-70k words. That seems to be my sweet spot. And no, they’re not the 100k+ monstrosities some folks like to churn out, but despite my tendency to go on, I do also know when to edit myself. So, mine lean short. But they’re still work. They’re still often difficult to get out. I outline like a crazy person, so I cut down as much “writer’s block” as possible, but still. It’s work.

So, when an agent sits on it for 6+ months, or a press for even longer, with no word…I mean, what the fuck, folks? I know you’re busy and all. I do. But the MS I have right now, that’s all finished and ready to be read–I finished it more than three years ago. And I understand and am fine with rejection. But…tell me, right?

I’ve considered resubmitting it elsewhere. But I kind of know how these things work. We all do. It enters the slushpile and it sits there. And sits there. And sits there. And that’s sort of wasting my time. And here’s the thing, and this is going to sound egotistical, but since ego has been in such short supply for me these days, I’m just going to let it rip. The book is good. I read through it and even I–who is the very last person to give myself any credit for just about anything–even I have to say, hey, it’s good. It’s a good book. I did a damn good job with it. So, I’m not waiting for some gatekeeper to give their blessings. Especially with the industry as it is nowadays anyway.

There’s the self-publishing stigma, but really, who gives a shit? How can I possibly give a shit? Will published authors look down on me? Sure, but, you know what? I’m an editor. I’ve read some of their submitted, unpublished work, and guess what: A lot of it is crap. Not all, but a lot. There, I said it. And there are Stoker award winners I’ve started and just couldn’t get past the first fifteen pages because, Holy Christ, where was the editor? Who on earth accepted this for publication? (And yeah, it kind of makes me wonder what the fuck goes on there over at the Stokers). So, do I really need to be worried about what published authors will think of my self-published book? I’m leaning heavily toward “no.” All I guess I could say to them is, “read it.” Yeah, I’m actually that confident with this one.  “Read it and then come back and tell me it’s crap.” This one, at least. We’ll see what happens after it, but this one is good. It’s better than good.

And, I’m pushing 42 years old–I don’t really feel like waiting to find just the right publisher who thinks it fits their general marketing strategy, which, let’s face it, is never much to begin with. Again, I know. I edit. I publish. I do have a pretty fair idea how micro-small-to-medium presses function. And the way I see it, the only thing I have to gain with a publisher is “cred.” The rest of the work is up to me. I know what it takes to publish a book. I have enough experience in both traditional publishing and print-on-demand to not fuck this up too badly. So, basically, I can do what a publisher would do for me, work wise. Otherwise, the work is the same. If I published with someone else, I’d still be doing the bulk of the promotion and whatnot, if not all of it. I’m not bagging on presses…this is what it is when you either don’t have the budget, or you don’t know how to use your budget. Shit happens. Things are what they are. But I just don’t have the patience for the time it takes to deal with all that shit when the reward is so minuscule. The fact is that I could likely do just as well self-publishing, or better. Yes, it’s work, but it’s nothing I don’t do already anyway, so, again, it comes down to respectability and pub street cred.

So…fuck it. I’m no longer tying myself to this dying industry just because I’m a-scared of what anyone thinks–writers, editors, publishers, reviewers, etc. The times, they are a-changing, some douchebag once said. Other than myself. So, watch this space.

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Here’s me in a sweet-ass Rush shirt being all like, “Fuck it.”

The novel in question is the Robert Louis Stevenson werewolf piece I blogged about here forever ago. Yes, it’s a historical mystery horror novel. Tough to categorize, but still not unusual. I’ll eventually get around to revising the one I crapped out a few months ago. That is a somewhat bizarro adventure/love story involving meth labs, dildos, and extreme social anxiety. And the WIP, thus far, seems to be indescribable (I need to work on that). But it’s about a group of people set in the factual town of my upbringing, Fairchance, Pa. The main throughline character is a black albino former mortician named Ludlow. There’s death and ghosts. There’s child molestation and burning buildings. There’s religious fanaticism and explosions. I’ve been working on it on and off since about 2008, but I’m coming up on finishing it, finally. Then revision, but that generally goes pretty quickly. I think it’s more literary in terms of the writing and maybe the subject matter, but, again, I’m shit with that sort of thing. I appreciate labels and genres–they’re obviously helpful. But I kind of write what I write and unless I make a real effort to fit a certain genre, it can really be anything. I gave an large chunk of it to a writer whom I respect greatly and he liked it a lot, so, I’m pretty confident about this one, too. But, in time. It’ll get done.

I’m looking to get these three books out before the end of the year. Maybe more. I do have some fairly lengthy outlines sitting around and being tinkered with. We’ll see. So, here we go…

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BeastGevaudan1For this was the land of the ever-memorable Beast, the Napoleon Bonaparte of wolves. What a career was his! He lived ten months at free quarters in Gévaudan and Vivarais; he ate women and children and “shepherdesses celebrated for their beauty”; he pursued armed horsemen; he has been seen at broad noonday chasing a post-chaise and outrider along the king’s high-road, and chaise and outrider fleeing before him at the gallop. He was placarded like a political offender, and ten thousand francs were offered for his head. And yet, when he was shot and sent to Versailles, behold! a common wolf, and even small for that.

–Robert Louis Stevenson

I just finished yet another revision of this story, the title of which has been changed a hundred times and, at this point, stands at The Wolves of Gévaudan (still not satisfactory). Although I am leaving for a week-long mindfulness retreat at the Blue Cliff Monastery from September 10th-18th, I still have a few days to work on the second Stevenson novel I’ve got in my head. It’s sort of in my head.

While Wolves is basically set against the template of RLS’s Travels with a Donkey Through the Cévennes, this second story will follow Louis to America–this time I’m using The Amateur Emigrant, Across the Plains, and The Silverado Squatters. Right now, I’m just figuring out the timeline, which characters I want to use and how I want to use them. In this book, we will actually meet Fanny Osbourne, so I’m thinking a little extra reading is in order. I think my favorite part of writing something like this is all the research/reading associated with it.

So, last time we had werewolves (and you really can’t go wrong with werewolves). This time, I think I’m going to be exploring a variety of geography-dependent folklore. Who’s with me?

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Well, we’ve moved into the new house, and so far, it’s been great. There’s still a ton to do, but now that we’re here and don’t have to drive three hours every day, it makes it a lot easier to keep up with, oh, I dunno, the rest of my life.

Update-wise, I suppose the biggest update is that I’m no longer with Nightscape Press. We gave it about six months or so and concluded that our approaches/style/technique–whatever you want to call it–just wasn’t meshing. Which was entirely a possibility. If you’ve never really worked together in that capacity, you don’t know until you do it, and really, I think we’re all glad we discovered and acknowledged it sooner rather than later. Something like that can stretch out and then grind ugly until everything just shits the bed. This way, everyone’s still friends and no one’s feelings got hurt. I sincerely wish Nightscape all the best, and you can bet you’ll still see me posting about their new releases and such here.

Despumation, my metal fiction journal, has been going great. Now that things have settled down a bit and time has opened up, I’m getting back to reading submissions and doing what I need to do there. That’s really going to pick up in the next couple of weeks. I’m expecting to get some author interviews up on the site, so definitely look for links to those here when that happens.

HoWCrownToday, actually, I managed to finish a couple of big projects. First, I finished a first pass of Mara Valderran’s Heirs of War: Crown of Thorns. I edited Mara’s first in this series, Heirs of War. She’s been lovely to work with–the ideal editor’s writer. She doesn’t take edits personally and understands that I’m not trying to pick on her–we’re all here for the same thing: to make this book the best book it can be. And I think the reason she doesn’t take it personally is, frankly, because she’s knows who’s really in charge. It’s her. I think some writers forget that sometimes. I’m not her publisher; I’m her editor. She can tell me to hit the road whenever she wants. The other thing, too, is that…Mara’s a pro. If she’s got a weakness, she faces it head on and works to strengthen it. And her strengths, she works to make stronger. If you’re not doing that as a writer, you may as well pack it in. So, I’m glad, today, to have gotten to a point where this book is one step closer to getting into the hands of the readers Mara attracted with her first book (Mara is a marketing machine). You can expect to see this available October 13.

LNWYWSThe second project I finished today was an illustration that will accompany a piece in Michelle Kilmer’s upcoming collection of short stories, flash fiction, and poems, Last Night While You Were Sleeping (Michelle gives it a mention here, among other things–go look at what she’s got going on). Look at that cover–isn’t it lovely? I love it. She’s got a good eye, and I’m excited to see/read this when it comes out on October 31st in paperback.

I’m most excited, though, about returning to my own writing. I’ve got a few plans for the first Stevenson novel that I can’t really go into right now, but once that ball is rolling, I’m so very ready to get back to writing the second Stevenson novel. *taps head* Most of it’s up here. Most of it. Well, some of it, but most of the general idea–where it’s going. Up in the ol’ noggin’. And now I’ve got a little time to get back to the 13,600 words that have been sitting lonely, waiting, waiting…I’m coming, Louis. I’m coming. Keep yer ‘stache on.

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We’re about to wrap up October here in a little bit, and that means Evil Girlfriend Media‘s anthology Roms, Bombs, and Zoms will be launching. November 1st, kiddies. Think about getting your hands on it so you can read my story, The Second Battle of Gettysburg.

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Also happy to announce that Global Interdisciplinary Research Studies‘ journal, Monsters and the Monstrous, has accepted an excerpt of my novel, (tentatively titled) Of Wolves and Donkeys: RLS’s Untold Journey Through the Cevennes. From their home page:

Monsters and the Monstrous is a biannual peer reviewed global journal that serves to explore the broad concept of “The Monster” and “The Monstrous” from a multifaceted inter-disciplinary perspective. The journal publishes work that seeks to investigate and assess the enduring influence and imagery of monsters and the monstrous on human culture throughout history. In particular, the journal will have a dual focus with the intention of examining specific ‘monsters’ as well as evaluating the role, function and consequences of persons, actions or events identified as ‘monstrous’. The history and contemporary cultural influences of monsters and monstrous metaphors will also be examined.

This is very cool for a number of reasons. The first is the obvious–publishing is always a treat. But I have a special place in my heart for the M & M journal, as it is the journal that stems from the interdisciplinary conference by the same name. As a sophomore during my undergrad, I actually gave a paper at their 6th Global Conference at Oxford, under my maiden name, Meadows. That feels like an awfully long time ago, so it’s pretty neat to have a piece get into the journal all these years later. If you’d like a few samples from the novel, head on over to my Goodreads author page; I’ve got a few excerpts up.

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In terms of Despumation Press, I’ve decided (because it’s still early enough to do so) to change from book publishing to journal publishing. Although I’ve got experience with both (or maybe because I do), a literary journal is really what I need to be doing. Maybe somewhere down the line I’ll expand into books, but I’m happy and excited to put out what I hope will be a quarterly journal. I’m expecting pieces from a handful of authors whose work I’ve always admired and I expect the first issue to be rather nifty. That’s right…nifty. It’s a perfectly metal term. Okay, it’s not, but…whatever. \m/\m/ If you’re a writer and you’re reading this, please swing on by our submissions page and see if it’s something you’d like to try. In the meantime, I’m anticipating a series of ecstatic story/essay acceptance announcements in the coming weeks and months.

Otherwise, I’ve recently finished a marathon manuscript editing phase (not my work, the work of others), then took a break to take care of some things here at home that required a little time and effort (hey, I even had a birthday–hello, 39!), but today is a Me Day. I have pumpkins to carve (it’s not too late!) and some Halloweeny activities to indulge in this evening. Tomorrow, it’s back to work–on my own manuscript. And then, I don’t know, I’m toying around with maybe taking on NaNoWriMo this year. I kind of forgot about it, but I might have something rolling around up in the ol’ noggin’ that I can vomit out over the course of the next month. We’ll see…how about you? NaNoWriMo for you?

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werewolfTHE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them. I hope you’ll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy. On this stop on the blog hop, you’ll find a bit of information on me and one of my books and links to four other authors you can explore!

My gratitude to fellow writer, Alyssa Cooper, for inviting me to participate in this event. You can click the following link to learn more about her work. Click here to get to her website.

In this blog hop, I and my fellow authors, in their respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our book or work-in–progress (giving you a sneak peek). We’ve also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write—the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?

Hahhaa…this would be the first question. So far, I haven’t got one. I’m terrible with titles. I can write tens of thousands of words, but force me to  fit all of that into a one-to-five -word sentence and I kinda suck.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

I actually blogged about that pretty recently. I had been reading a lot of biographical work about Robert Louis Stevenson, and then I started in on some of his travels books and essays. Something just clicked, with a little luck and a little research, I pretty much had a fairly strong foundational idea.

3. What genre does your book come under?

I tend to just say “Horror,” though someone else might have to tell me. Along with titles, I’m terrible about distinguishing sub-genres with my own work. I lean toward darker elements, but the work as a whole tends to come off as a touch literary. I dunno. It’s literary historical horror. Werewolves. Yeah, I’m just going to say, “werewolves.”

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, good question. I haven’t thought of that. For Stevenson, maybe a younger, taller Robert Carlyle. Somewhere between Begbie in Trainspotting and Colqhoun in Ravenous. Except not a jerk and not a crazy cannibal. And with a donkey. I mean, he wouldn’t have to fake the accent.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Wait, isn’t it bad enough I’m crap with titles? Okay. “A young Robert Louis Stevenson journeys through the French highlands with a donkey and is trailed by a mysterious cloaked figure while having to dodge the terrible, vicious werewolves that have plagued the region for centuries.” You didn’t say it couldn’t be a run-on sentence.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

This book will be self-published, which I’m very excited about. I’ve worked for presses (I am currently on the editing staff at Nightscape Press, actually), and I’ve got a degree in publishing—it’s all stuff I know how to do. I also really enjoy working on that side of things, so, it’s fun to take my own work through the process and see what happens. I am still revising the manuscript, but am closing in on a final draft, and I’ve been consulting with designer/photographer Caroline Moore for the cover and layout. It’s nice to have this other kind of creative outlet aside from the writing, which authors don’t usually get to enjoy with traditional publishers.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About a month and a half, which was a surprise to me. I usually take much longer, but something about this story just kept me going at it. It was almost miraculous, actually. I hit not one block throughout and I got up every morning ready to get back in front of my laptop and hammer away. It was a very satisfying process, which is great because sometimes, it’s not so much.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s hard to say. When I started, I thought it would be compared to the Jane Austin monster books, or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. But it’s not necessarily written in the style of RLS, and the style and tone it does have is, I think, very different from Grahame-Smith’s work. And then I thought it might be compared Harold Schecter’s Poe mysteries, which I love. Schecter does a fantastic job capturing Poe’s voice, and they’re tremendously clever. If you’ve read the usual suspects of Poe, you’d love these books. But if you’re very familiar with Poe, you’ll love these books. For my book (and I had such a great time writing this; I fully expect there to be more than one), you only have to know who Stevenson was, I think. You don’t have to have read a single word by him to enjoy it. And I’m afraid that even if you’re very familiar with his fiction, I didn’t really look to his fiction for inspiration. But if you know anything about his life, and, say, you’ve read his book Travels with a Donkey through the Cevennes (which I’ve used as a template), you’ll probably get the most out of it. Again, though, it’s not necessary—I didn’t write it to be this inside game for RLS fanatics. They’ll have fun with it, I’m sure, but it stands on its own and is written for anyone who wants to pick it up and read a good story with frickin’ werewolves. As for the comparisons, I’m sure it falls into the category of those above, although, as there are stylistic difference between them, I believe there is the same between mine and them.

9: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Geez, I don’t know. I think I pretty much covered the big selling points: Robert Louis Stevenson, who, if you don’t know anything about him, you really should. For a guy who kicked it at age 44, he lived a pretty full, adventurous life. And that works for me, because I wrote this based on both his travel writing, but also on his life (and, like I said, I anticipate to follow this up with another). There’s mystery/intrigue: Horrible murders? You got it. Perpetrated by whom? Who knows…you’ll have to read it to find out. And werewolves. “Werewolves” are sweet and that speaks for itself, I think. Oh, I guess I’ll add that there’s humor in there, but it’s not just one joke after another—it works with the characters, not to carry the characters. And speaking of characters, I’m really happy with them. I like them (and dislike others), which, as a writer, is so much better than being indifferent to them. If I was indifferent to them, I wouldn’t dream of putting this out there. One last thing: despite my really digging these characters, don’t worry. You like gore? I’ve got that covered, too. So, really, there’s something for everyone.

10: Why are you so much better-looking in person than in your photo?

I guess that’s all relative. It depends on the photo, and on which side of me you’re standing. And the light. Lighting is important. And how close you are, or how close the photographer was. And how much sleep I’ve had. And how much sleep you’ve had. It depends on a lot, really.

Who’s next on the NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP?

No one. No one is next on this blog hop. Can you believe ten writers were asked and they had either already done it, had reasons not to do it, or didn’t reply? Sorry kids. Train stops here. What do I suggest then? Well, if you haven’t read any Robert Louis Stevenson, he’s new to you, so I suggest getting some and hunkering down for some damned good stuff. Can’t go wrong, really. Otherwise, check out Schecter’s Poe books (link above for titles). I also suggest heading on over to Nightscape Press and having a look.

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ValleyWoodcutLast week, I started a weekly feature that would include excerpts from the novel I’m working on. I’ve decided to do this week’s installment today, Monday, instead of Wednesday, as I have something else that needs to be posted on the 20th. And it’s a fun way to start the week.

So, onto today’s words! Here’s a little something from page 41:

Above the river Allier, surrounded by meadows, Pradelles perched along a hillside. The smell of hay permeated the air as laborers worked to slash the grass that had sprung up after the last harvest. Telegraph wires spread like a web from the distant buildings of the town, towards and past Louis, down the road on which he walked. On the opposite bank of the Allier, the terrain lifted skyward, up and up, layering over itself to the horizon. The peaks and valleys traded cyclically shade for sun, deep shadows of purple mist and low-glowing golden outcrops of stone and brush. It struck Louis, in all its sublimity, both beautiful and full of sadness, as these visions often do. There was, though, a particular stabbing point to this melancholy that needled at him like the goad to the donkey, and it took him several steps to place it.

The most immediate landscape—what could be seen with the eye from the edge of the town—was completely, and deliberately, deforested. What should have leant a natural mystery to the scene was nothing more than a field of stumps and hacked verdure. Nothing was left to the imagination, and instead of the thrill of what unknown things the forest keeps, there was left only the bare and ragged eeriness of a land blighted.

Wolves.

A chill zipped up Louis’s spine like the crack of a whip. Again, like the difference between listening to the rambling of drunken locals and witnessing the tragic deformity of a young woman, seeing the physical consequence of the fear of an entire population—the magnitude of the resulting act—brought with it a better sense of dread. Modestine stopped abruptly and sniffed the air, as if they’d both concluded the same at the very same moment, and Louis didn’t prod her with the goad. He let her process the feeling as he did.

Quite suddenly, Louis saw a figure striding a little ways up the road, just before the final rise. The skirt of his cloak danced about his ankles; surely, this was the figure Louis had spotted in the shadowy valley before Bouchet. But how did he manage to get ahead, or, if he was always ahead, how did Louis not see him until now? And with that, the figure was gone over the low crest.

There’s not a ton to say about this excerpt, actually. It gives me a brief opportunity, though, to mention that I have been trying to retain a bit of the travel-writing style of RLS’s original. Not his style, per se, but of the type of writing that includes a fair amount of scenic description. To an extent, mind you. I have had zero desire to re-create those long and drawn out passages—pages and pages and pages—of the naturalistic diatribes, say, of Anne Radcliffe (thanks so much, 18th-centry Sublime Sentimentality!). Mercifully, neither did Stevenson, and I’ve definitely taken that cue from him.

I just wanted to retain at least that feature of travel writing, the purpose of which is to transport the reader to the place about which they read. I think all writing should do that, really, but it all depends on the effect you’re trying to create. I’ve read some books that have very little physical description of anything—people, places, etc.—but carried the plot so well that it didn’t matter and my brain happily filled in all of those gaps. And then, there are the Ann Radcliffe’s of the world, which give their own kind of satisfaction. I like to have a little something, generally, and seeing that this was inspired by a piece of travel writing, it seemed right to run with it.

You will have noticed the mention of “tragic deformity of a young woman,” and while I won’t go into that, I will say that he has, by this point in the story, come across enough nastiness that he’s starting to become a tad concerned about his journey. Also, this is the second time he comes across this mysterious cloaked man, and frankly, he’s a little weirded out. You would be too…

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Friday, I revealed my big, exciting self-publishing plans, and I said I might just tell you about the book today. So, I will.

Last October, the day after a best friend’s raucous wedding, I got a call that my aunt was sick and needed help. My aunt lived in Canada, which, from where I am, is about a five-to-six-hour drive. For the next two weeks, I drove back and forth and helped out as I could. In the end, the diagnosis was what we all thought: cancer. And she was gone by November 10th.

It’s sad and I’m sorry about that, but it’s the exposition.

While I was there, we had taken her into the hospital for tests, and during that trip, as I was waiting, I found this book in the hospital’s gift shop, used for four bucks. I had been in such a rush to get up to my aunt that I had neglected to bring anything to read, so I snagged it. For the next few weeks, I was reading this pretty great biography of Robert Louis Stevenson (which thankfully took my mind of some pretty heavy stuff).

RLS, taken in 1879, a year after his travels through the Cevennes.

RLS, taken in 1879, a year after his travels through the Cevennes.

As far as Stevenson goes, I’d read the usual suspects—The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, The Body Snatcher, etc. And I knew a little about his life, but not a ton. However, I had just the previous summer visited the Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh, and as bothered as I was that they made no mention of James Hogg (really?), they do have a wonderful Stevenson exhibit in the basement level. The more I read, the more fascinated I became of this person, whose writing I came to better appreciate through his real-life trials and adventures.

How can anyone not just love RLS? Answer: They can’t. Not molecularly possible. To not totally dig RLS would, I think, suggest some sort of inner deformity. But that’s just my opinion…

When I finished the biography, I didn’t end up diving into more of his fiction, like I thought I would. Instead—apparently now on a non-fiction kick—I started in on his travel essays and books. And I can only assume that whatever it was that finally burst from me like an alien thing had started germinating sometime during the biography phase. Because as I turned to his Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, I hadn’t even gotten to the text proper and had only just finished the introduction before a fairly fully formed concept popped into my head. I started writing about five minutes later.

I pretty much knew how I was going to go about it, but then not two days later, I’d managed to plug up one major narrative gap with a little research and a little luck. In the end, this is what I came up with:

Antoine killing the Wolf of Chazes, 18th-century engraving.

Antoine killing the Wolf of Chazes, 18th-century engraving.

When RLS was 28 years old, heartbroken by certain complications with his great love, Fanny (fated someday to be his wife), he embarked upon a walking journey through the highlands of southern France to clear his head, but also to gather notes for a planned travel book. Just him and his donkey, Modestine. It just so happened that the region through which he traveled was the very same region famous, not only for its religious suppression and resistance, but also for its wolves. Specifically, La Bête du Gévaudan! Two wolf-like beasts had been hunted and killed during the 18th century after having slaughtered up to two hundred French folks.

So far, everything is true. Even La Bête. As a matter of fact, Stevenson mentions La Bête specifically in his journal and it winds up in the ultimate MS that originally went to press.

What does this have to do with a sickly Scotchman traveling through France with his ass in the 19th century? Well, you’d have to read it to find out, but I can tell you this: there are monsters, of varying sorts. Monster-monsters and human monsters. There are peasants and monks, socialites and priests. There is lovely scenery. And there is, of course, Stevenson and his irascible, loveable donkey, Modestine.

Though I’ve done a fair amount of historical horror fiction, I had never written a werewolf story. It only took about a month and a half to squeeze out a first draft. I am now working toward a final draft, which I expect to have finished before the end of April. The best part: I can see doing this again, because, although he died young, rather tragically, at age 44, his life did not end after France. Nor did his travels and adventures. And, frankly, I had a lot of fun writing this.

If you like Robert Louis Stevenson, and you like fictionalized accounts of the lives of famous folks, and most importantly, if you like mystery and werewolves (and perhaps a little of the red stuff)…then this book is for you. Yes, you. So, stay tuned! Watch me finish this guy up, prepare promo materials, and navigate the world of self-publishing! It’ll be fun, or horrifying. Or both. For you and for me. Good times.

P.S. My aunt would have liked this book, and despite her wacky tastes (or maybe because of), she knew what was what.

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