As the deadline approaches, I’m finishing some edits before turning in the manuscript to the publisher for copy editing. The book’s been through quite an evolution in the last 7 years. But if I’d had a threesome with Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman (with Guillermo del Toro suggesting the occasional position), Mr. Wicker would still be the love child.
Raising that love child has been a challenge, to say the least.
Writing Historical Fiction
This book blends urban and historical fantasy. The latter continues to make me taste shoe leather. I initially fell into every trap imaginable when bringing to life ancient Helvetia, Vienne, and the Roman conquest. The main problem was too much exposition, trying to cram everything in that I’d picked up from my research. The trick it seems is knowing when to keep information in the background and when to push it forward.
As I read through the story this time, I kept in mind historical fiction I’d read of late, particularly Kelli Stanley’s excellent Roman noir. When necessary, I picked the brain of Professor Emeritus Dr. James M. Moscovich, without whose tutelage I couldn’t have written this part of the book. He took me under his wing some time ago and made me an honorary student of classicism. I have a long way to go on both fronts, but progress has been made.
Poetry, Not Purply
Lots of people have said that they loved a story of mine because of its poetic language. Therefore, since Mr. Wicker is a novel, I gave myself room for flourish. I kidded myself that because the book was “poetic” I could sew long trains onto my metaphors.
Newsflash: poetry isn’t wordy. A good poem is like a polished gemstone, dazzling and compact. I’ve retained the beauty of the language while removing the excess verbiage (or, at least attempting to, anyway). In fact, it’s far more beautiful because it’s been pruned. If you’re a fan who enjoys the poetry of my prose, you won’t be disappointed.
The Odyssey Program
A few years ago, I paid to have the book critiqued in the Odyssey Critique Service. (Jeanne Cavelos runs a tremendous program. I highly recommend it.) Unfortunately, by the time I’d received the edits, I was going through an enormous personal crisis and couldn’t address the book for another year. While I didn’t agree with every comment, my editor was thorough and some of the comments flagged something an earlier reader had noted, but for totally different reasons. (For what it’s worth, one reader thought a section was offensive and another thought that same section was boring. I sided with boring. Either way it was problematic.)
Long before he took to social media, Neil Gaiman told me in a personal email his now-famous adage: If someone says there’s something wrong in your story, they’re probably right. But if they tell you how to fix it, they are always wrong. Taking that advice, I approached both the Odyssey comments and my earlier reader’s notes afresh. I’m super pleased with the results.
Now as Alicia searches for the missing memory, the mystery builds and builds until she reaches the heartrending revelation that reverses everything she knows in life — and death.
But Did It Work?!?
Did it work, this blending of historical and urban fantasy? Did I cinch the corset strings of my sentences tightly enough without cutting off breath? Did the back story transplant succeed? You, dear readers, will have to let me know.
I’m tentatively attending three conventions next year: World Horror, BoucherCon and World Fantasy. ::gulp:: Hey, at least BoucherCon is local and World Horror is on the West Coast.
I hope to see you all next year!