By David Youngquist
I was at an event last Thursday with Matt Nord, another writer of dark speculative fiction. I was hoping for a better turn out than we got. The event was well advertised. The gentleman conducting it had been on the radio talking about it. Fliers were up all over town. It was all about zombies and vampires and werewolves (oh my!) and I figured we’d have a good turn out this close to Halloween.
We got six people. Two cousins of Matt. One of his old teachers, and the rest were people in the library who wandered in for hot cider and a soft chair. One gentleman proceeded to take off his shoes and rub his feet the rest of the evening. Ah well. Literary events in small towns. Gotta love ‘em.
We did, however, have a good discussion between two writers. You know, those kind of talks you don’t get to have with people you work with daily. You can’t really talk about how a character in your book gives you trouble because he wants to do something you don’t want him to. Or you have to kill this other character even though you really like her. Tell that to someone in your day job, and most likely, the least you’ll get is a weird look and “Well, you’re the writer, do what you want.”
One thing we talked about was the worlds we live in. Our real, everyday worlds where the kids get sick, the wife needs help with the dishes, and you forget to pick up milk on the way home from work. And the world we create where we decide who gets sick, the houses never seem to get cleaned, but are never dirty, and what’s milk anyway?
It was interesting to talk about this weird little way we live our lives with another writer and a scattering of fans. The discussion evolved out of talk of how some people lose themselves in the world you create. Sometimes literally. People who become your characters. Granted, I’m not big enough to have that happen yet, but we discussed some of the Star Wars and Star Trek fanboys for a bit.
Some people seem to have an internal glitch somewhere, some need, that gets filled by living that fantasy life. People who become that Jedi, that space explorer. People like that tend to worry me. I loved Archon, and loved being arrested by the 501 Storm Trooper Brigade. My bail went to a good cause, and the folks running it were a blast to talk with and be around. Folks who can keep their realities separate generally are fun people with great imaginations. I worry about the ones who wear their Jedi robes around the house.
I’ve met two writers who became lost in the worlds they created. Both fantasy writers. Both had been working on these books since high school, which is to say ten and fifteen years respectively. Same book, same world. Just immersed in the world they preferred to live in. Where they call the shots. Where they rule. Where they can kill off the people who antagonize them if they want with no repercussions.
I had offered to help both of them work on their stories. To clean it up, you know. After fifteen years of work, it might need some editing. Nope. No thanks. Appreciate it, but don’t need your help. One guy actually got nervous to the point of stuttering and sweating at the thought of me offering changes to his book.
That’s when I realized that for all their talk about being the next Tolkien, the books would never see an editor.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m ready to move away from Snareville. As much as I love Dan, Pepper, Cindy, Jinks and the whole crew, I’m ready to go. Adrian Chamberlin and I are working on the third book in the series together, and having a ball doing it, but after living in that dark world for the better part of three years, I’m ready to move on.
I’ve said before that we’re not all horror writers all the time. As much a triumph the folks of Danny’s world have pulled off, it’s too dark a place to live all the time. I’m looking forward to getting back to Gwennolin. I haven’t talked with Black Jack or Tabby or Mau-Pang for awhile. I enjoy the people of Felis, even the weaselly ones.
I’ll grant Jack’s not always a pleasant guy. Matter of fact, he starts out as a rather suicidal drunk, but he was fun to mature on the page. Gwennolin itself is a place of magic. It’s really not a typical fantasy book, but I’ve concluded that none of my work is typical anything. It’s a fun place, and as many troubles Jack gets into, I’m looking forward to spending some time there. Maybe someday at Archon I’ll see a couple people dressed as Jack and Tabby.