Saturday, 21 July 2012

I'm treating the opening of the third novel as an American spin on the first. Very procedural, Law & Order with a dash of The X-Files. It's coming along well, just the right amount of punchy, I think.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Fan Fetishisation

My novel started as fan fiction. I wanted to write horror stories and I was seventeen and I didn't want to do the leg work to actively create my own character from scratch. But I knew of a character, quite low profile, not as well defined to modern audiences that I thought I could make "mine". What were originally going to be the adventures of John Constantine, Hellblazer became Doctor Occult due to a scheduling error at the fan fiction website I posted at. I was told I couldn't use Constantine-- even after having a cover done up!-- so I had to come up with a last minute replacement.

And Doctor Occult would do.

So yeah, I, like many before me, started writing in the creative favela of fan fiction. I wrote 35,000 words, and I loved it. This was me writing what I wanted to write: Horror. I hadn't been fully able to do so before but I thought this was pure and unadulterated. I did things I always wanted to do with the genre. And sure, I was influenced by Supernatural and, of course, DC Comics-- so there were cameos from The Shade, The Spectre, Madame Xanadu-- but it was mine. I did things with the character that hadn't been done with him before. I told a whole new story in the context of him.

... Which isn't exactly right, is it?

I mean, I wanted to become-- and I still do!-- a serious writer. A writer on the up and up. And I always thought that fan fiction was something to look down on, and yes, I think it still is, but E.L. James is a millionaire for her Twilight fan-fiction trilogy Fifty Shades..., and all she did was replace vampires with bondage. I mean come on, honestly? Honestly? So my roots in fan fiction aren't the stigma I always thought they were. Yes, they're a bit embarrassing, but so what? My closest friends know I did it, and they were just "yeah, okay, moving on," about it, so I can't fault that reaction.

I tried getting back into it at the tail end of 2011. It was what actually energised me  into writing original content. I wanted to wrap up some stories from a few years ago (I took a massive hiatus after starting my new job) but the excitement petered out. I started strong, wrote like a beast... but then the enthusiasm died. I didn't want to write about Green Lantern. I wanted to write about... something for me.

When I was in America, travelling via trains from Point A to Point Z to all Points in-between I had a journal I was scribbling furiously in. This was... 2010. 2010, a year that was both horrifically unkind to me but also the start of a lot of new, too. I was building a world in my notebook, and a name occurs again and again in my notes. Richard Faraday. And there weren't mentions of his wife Scarlett, she was a later addition, but this was the man I could write stories around. He was a mix of the Winchesters and The Doctor, horror and science fiction rolled up, all my favourite kind of adventures just waiting for him to experience. I wrote about all the characters you find in Books One and Two, you find everything out. He's there. He was whole. And all I had to do was write him. Come 2012, I did just that.

So anyway, if you've read my blog this year you know I just committed to writing. I did what I wanted, and I did it well, I think. 

The stories started out as horror, pure and simple. But as I wrote I found things changing. It became a homage, perhaps a pastiche, to my childhood, and maybe to yours. There were no capes or superpowers. There were spectral private detectives. Odd, numerically inclined mystery men. Every other character was based on the shows of the sixties that had a short revival during the mid-nineties during reruns and have now found a home on ITV4. I'm talking, as you well know, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Prisoner, The Professionals and so much more. Book Two is full of it. Department S, Jason King, Captain Scarlet... it's insane. And you probably won't see them like I do. You'll maybe recognise a name. You might feel fleeting familiarity with one character. But everyone has their origins somewhere. And I've taken them and I've twisted them and placed them within the context of my mythology, and I love it. Book Three is going to be even worse. My novel has become a place for my influences to come out and play. Supernatural, Night Stalker, Doctor Who, Angel, The Wire, The Man from UNCLE, Fringe, Moonlight, True Blood, et al, just dancing wildly to the beat of my drum. Their stories become something new, and then the question is asked... what next? Where did Illya Kuryakin go? What next for Patrick McGoohan's Number Six? Whatever happened to Jason King? And things get bigger and bigger until what can really threaten them other than the end of reality?

I have a plan now. I know where the novels are going, loosely. Getting Book Two out there is the most important thing at the moment, but I want to think beyond that. So, the plan. Three novels-- potentially four-- published by Summer 2013. A pitch in the hands of Image Comics by the same time, based on my novel series. I'm already talking to an artist. I want this stuff to be in the hands of people who come from the same place as me, that's always been the goal.

Wish me luck.