Tuesday, July 05, 2005


The time between meeting and finally leaving
is sometimes called falling in love.
--Lisa Loeb, "Falling in Love"

Love comes down any way it wants to.
Doesn't ask for your permission.
Open up your arms, or it will break you in two.
--Joan Osbourne, "Dracula Moon"
I wasn't looking for a New Idea. Heck, I was barely awake the day it wormed into my brain.

I was driving down the road flipping the dial, complaining as usual about the musical desert that commercial radio has become and wondering whether my reaction was due to the aging process or because music really had started to suck (research indicates it's the latter*). A certain tune began to play, one I used to enjoy, and my thoughts went something like this:

Me: Hmm, that song would be a good title for a book.

Marketing Me: Hey, there could be a whole series of books with titles that begin with that word. It would totally fit a paranormal/urban fantasy series. Maybe even one about...vampires.

M: No! Everyone's doing vampires.

MM: Exactly. People want to read them, editors want to buy them. It's a crowded but happy bandwagon. And hey, if Octavia Butler is on it, how bad can it be?

M: I don't even like vampires. When Chris and I play the Buffy board game, I always play the Scooby Gang, not the Baddies. During the show, I wanted to stake Angel so bad after he killed Jenny Callender. The bastard.

[I get choked up for a moment here, remembering that episode.]

MM: But you love the dark, brooding types. You wrote a book about Lucifer, for crying out loud.

M: But the vamps in most novels are so tiresome. All that, "look into my eyes, bleah bleah, pain is sexy, bleah bleah, you're under my spell." Bleah!

MM: What about Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends?

M: I adored that. Hilarious, and yet strangely sweet.

MM: And Mary Janice Davidson's Undead series?

M: Also amusing, with a take-no-crap heroine. So I could write a humorous vampire series. Humorous, but emotionally satisfying. I'll let the vamps keep a touch of their natural romance and mystique without letting them get deadly serious. Get it? Deadly serious? HA! I'm down with the funny already.

MM: And I'm ignoring you until it goes away. We need a twist. Everyone's gotta have a twist.

M: If everyone has a twist, isn't the twist a cliche in itself?

MM: Shut up and brainstorm.

Over the next half-hour, the radio helped me hone my premise until I had a basic plot--complete with obligatory twist--and a main character I can't wait to hang out with for years to come. Just for yuks, I tried taking the vampires out of the story and replacing them with humans or another type of paranormal creature, but both the plot and the themes crumbled like, well, like what's left of a vamp after you stake him.

After making a few pages of notes, I shoved this new idea to the back of my brain to percolate while I finished the first draft of Aspect of Crow. I like to take at least a month away from a first draft so that I can edit it with a more objective eye. So now, for four weeks while I pretend that Aspect doesn't exist, I'm developing the vampire idea into a proposal (three chapters and a synopsis of the first book).

Most writers will agree that this is one of the most exciting periods of writing a novel. It's a lot like falling in love. Everything is possible. Each thought is new and exciting, and yet I can look down the road of time and hard work to see how this love will deepen through tribulations and triumphs, through the literary equivalents of candlelight dinners and toilet seats left up.

During this time, I see with my character's eyes and hear with her ears. I wonder what she takes in her coffee and how she would view the latest news story. What does she wear to bed when she sleeps alone? How does she feel about the fact that her parents raised her to be a con artist like them? At first, her reactions are my reactions, but as she grows, she'll differentiate herself from me like a child from its mother, until finally I'll be able to see her as her own person and not just a reflection of my own glory and shame.

The Idea took form because I happened to turn on 100.7 (not even my favorite station) at a certain time on a certain day in late May. I won't inflate my own importance by thinking it was "meant to be;" I'll merely give a nod to the occasional beauty of random chance and feel lucky I was sleepy enough that day to have a wide-open mind.

I can only hope that this googly-eyed summer romance turns into a lasting, meaningful relationship. One that makes me lots of money.

*Thanks to the 1996 Congressional deregulation of the telecommunications industry, radio stations have been consolidated under mega-media conglomerates; this homogenization results in the same imitation-vanilla-flavored music being played and produced across the nation.



Response to your addendum *:

Podcasts! Podcasts! Coverville! Accident Hash! Many others - all indie music, all really good.


Posted by: Blogger Rob at 7/05/2005 1:45 PM

Thanks, Rob, I'll check them out (I take it those are names of bands).

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 7/05/2005 2:17 PM

Nope- names of Podcasts to check out. Coverville is a podcast all about cover songs - so everything is familiar but turned on its head. Accident Hash is a total indie rock podcast which is excellent. There is so much more out there. I know - if you don't have a portable MP3 player you can't take them in the car - but at least at home you can have something more stimulating.


Posted by: Blogger Rob at 7/06/2005 3:23 PM

Oh. But admit it, Coverville and Accident Hash would be great names for rock bands. Coverville, of course, would be a dorky cover band that mostly played weddings.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 7/06/2005 4:04 PM

Heh. Absolutely. I think a lot of other podcasts would make good band names too. Evil Genius Chronicles. Bitterest Pill. The Sitter Downers. Banal Fantasy. Oh yes yes yes....


Posted by: Blogger Rob at 7/07/2005 6:24 PM

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