That’s the truest statement ever uttered. As you grow older, notice, I didn’t say grow up, your comfort zone is constantly being challenged. Things happen. You adapt. Or, you stagnant. That is true in life and especially true in writing.
I’ve been writing Paranormal Comedies for over seven years. When you do something for that long the magic begins the fade to a dull throb in the back of your skull. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy writing it, but something comes up missing. The ideas just don’t seem fresh. I find it harder to see things with a new eye. As a result, questions constantly bombard me that probably wouldn’t have been in my head when I first started writing.
What am I doing?
Is the new book really new or just a retread of what I’ve done before?
Where am I going with this?
How many stories can you realistically tell about Vampires?
Should I go in a different direction?
How many ways can I crack a joke about facial hair on female werewolves?
What happens when Vampires go to the bathroom? I mean, what does Vampire tinkle look like? Do I even want to know? Probably, not, but… it does bear some investigation at a later date.
Just not today. Today is about change. Weird asides can wait for another day.
How does one go about change? For me, it was examining all the things I love. Science Fiction, Superheroes, Westerns, Biblical heroes, Murder She Wrote. Hey, don’t look so surprised. I do love me some Jessica Fletcher. The point is I have a wealth of loves to choose from. Just because I write Paranormal, that doesn’t mean I’m not well rounded in other areas.
To explore that wealth, I set out to try beginning a book based on my loves. As hard as this may be for some of you to believe, I have the start of a few books that have nothing whatsoever to do with Vampires. That said, I had to find my comfort zone. We all have them, but finding them is the hard part. For me, it was finding a theme that I could slip into and feel safe writing about.
First off, I began a Biblical themed Young Adult about David. Why David? Because, he came from nothing to achieve everything. Even failure. Born a shepherd, he went on to kill a giant, lead an army, lead a people, and ultimately father a dynasty that still reverberates through us today. But, more than that I wanted to understand him not as a historical figure, but as a young boy thrust into something greater than himself. How would he cope with that pressure? How could he adapt to a role greater than anything a teenage boy should be able to handle? These are themes that are universal and still affect us today.
So how far did I get? A couple chapters before I realized how much work it would take. To do the story justice I needed to understand the truths of who young David was. That would take something I hate to do–research. I did the obvious thing. I downloaded a few Kindle books on the subject. Bought some hard copy books on his life. You get the picture. Ultimately, I decided before I could do his story justice, I needed to step back and read those books.
But, like any author, I wanted to write a book now! So, while I did my — shudder — research, I dipped into another of my loves. Superheroes. Stealing a muse in the form of the son of a good friend I began work on a series called The Scrolls of Eternity. What would you do if you suddenly became the avatar for an ancient Egyptian god? That was the question that burned in my head. Incorporating the mythology of my years of comic reading I set about to answer that question. It didn’t take long for me to discover that I would write a comic book without pictures. Patrick Michael Hughes came alive in my head. His alter ego, Horus, had already been alive there for years. Since, the early Nineties, I’d been trying to tell his story in one form or another. With this book, that dream became a reality.
I’m not saying it was easy, but I worked out the kinks and got my brain wrapped around the concept. The first book in the series, Rebirth, comes out in a few short weeks. Like all origin stories, it is only the beginning. A stage setter if you will. Already, book two is percolating in my head, with the first bits sitting in a fresh document. Will it be better than book one? My answer is yes. Whereas book one introduces the world to the legend of Horus, Storms of Chaos will bring growth to Patrick as he copes with what being a superhero is all about. When you add teen angst into the mix, he’ll also discover that becoming a man might be an even harder thing to do.
Am I pleased with the end result? Yes, but it could be better. I say that only because as an author, I’m not living the story. I’m only writing it, but like real life, I can look back and see where I could change this, or change that. Fiction often mirrors life. And, it should! If you can’t believe the story you’ve written, why should anyone else? Like my own life, I can see subtle things Patrick could do to make his life easier, better? Then again, easier often isn’t better. Patrick’s story isn’t about easy. It’s about making choices that are often difficult, but will make him a better man. They might not always be the wisest decisions, but from our mistakes we learn. That is real life in a nutshell. Screw up and you just might learn something.
Before I go back to my own real life, I have one more WiP to share. I have always loved Westerns. Growing up some of my favorite memories are of watching John Wayne movies with my grandparents. I know the Star Wars and Comics might have thrown you, but to me those old westerns are my true comfort zone. So, sitting on my computer is my first attempt at paying homage to my early heroes. It’s a story I look forward to telling because it is so different from what I’ve done before.
With Scrolls, I stayed within the shared world of my Love Bites universe, because that world is so alive and rich to me. Plus, you never know when you might need a Vampire to liven things up. On the other hand, the Western is a true stepping out of my normal happy place. It might take me awhile to get there with it, but I can’t wait to see what happens.
I guess the thing is this. Change is good for the soul and challenges the mind to become better than it was. Stronger. Faster. They can make me better. They have the technology. At least, I hope they do. Who is this ‘they’ I’m referring to? Well, my muses of course. Only, I call them my friends, my family, and all the people who come in and out of my life on a daily basis. That includes you guys reading this. You inspire me to keep throwing my thoughts out into the universe, whether you want to read them or not.
Before I go, let me say one more thing. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. You guys are the true inspirations. You inspire children to dream. I know my dad did. So, really if you want to blame someone for all this literary rambling. Blame him.
Thanks Dad for being my inspiration every second of the day.