On Facebook, my favorite place outside of the real world, H. Michael Casper asked whatever happened to my vampire novel. Instead of a succinct response on social media, I’ve decided to do a rambling response here.
My young adult novels are contracted before they’re written. So I sold How You Ruined My Life based on a couple of sample chapters and a synopsis, and I had a deadline, and though I wasn’t locked in to every plot detail, I was expected to turn in a book that bore a reasonably strong resemblance to the novel I’d pitched.
The same was true for most of my adult work. Though the digital editions of books like Wolf Hunt 2 and Blister were self-published, the print editions came first, and I was obligated to deliver a book called Wolf Hunt 2 to the publisher or they would send men in dark suits to my place of residence in the middle of the night.
When my dad died, it put me behind on all of my writing, and soon I had deadlines bouncing into other deadlines. My publishers, not being complete monsters, didn’t say, “Sorry, dude, your dead father ain’t our problem,” but it was still a pretty stressful few months as I tried to get caught up.
Finally I did, and I decided that my life would be jollier with fewer deadlines. Now, writing is my only source of income, and I’m not a New York Times bestselling author, so “I want fewer deadlines” is not the same as “I shall tinker at the keyboard at my leisure, sipping sparkling water as I await the moment where the muse doth grace me with its presence.” I still have to crank ’em out. I just decided to go with a “I’ll worry about the print edition after the book is done” model.
Which basically means that I can write whatever I want, within the parameters of knowing that Blister sold extremely well and Kumquat sold poorly, so if I want to keep paying my rent I’d be wise to write more Blisters and fewer Kumquats.
So one fine day I came up with a cool idea for a vampire novel called Miles of Night, one that’s basically a 300-page action sequence. It’s awesome. You’ll love it. I announced that I was working on it, without sharing any plot details beyond “vampire novel.” No projected publication date.
Writing a book where the action never lets up is tough, and I thought I would also enjoy working on a slow burn, dialogue-driven haunted house novel when I needed a break. Sick House was supposed to be a side project. But two things happened:
- I started to really, really like Sick House.
- I had the idea to turn it into something that played by the rules of the “home invasion” sub-genre instead of a typical ghost story.
I decided to promote Sick House to my main project. Since nobody was screaming “Where the hell is Miles of Night, you contract-breaching bastard???” I could do that.
Though there’s still a slow burn element, the pacing in Sick House goes crazy at a certain point, which meant that ultimately it was no “easier” to write than the novel that it replaced as my main project. Irony.
When I finished the book, I weighed a couple of options. Obviously, if I returned to a book in progress, there’d be less left to write. On the other hand, starting fresh with a brand new project at the beginning of the new year had appeal.
I ended up going with a brand-new project. Bring Her Back is psychological horror, written in 1st person. I’m a little over a third of the way done. When that book is finished, I will probably return to Miles of Night.
Or I’ll start something completely new.
We’ll see what happens.