Wow, this is late in the day to be posting.
Seriously, guys, I cannot recall ever being this busy in my life. I mean, in normal everyday life, not, like, the weeks before my children were born when suddenly the entire house needed to be scrubbed and redecorated, or the weeks before my wedding when the entire house needed to be scrubbed and redecorated and I had a houseful of guests and I needed to get manicures and hairdos and fittings and all of that stuff, or when we move. This is just my daily task-list growing longer and longer. (Oh, and before I forget, did you all see the UNHOLY MAGIC playlist on iTunes? You know I don’t get paid or anything when you purchase it, but the artists do; I just put them together in case anyone was curious about the music in the books and would like to hear it. This way you don’t have to hunt around and not know which songs are mentioned or whatever.)
I just finished a short story for an anthology; it’s a Downside story but because I didn’t want to give spoilers, and am well aware that most readers have never heard of me or my books, I wrote it from an outsider’s point of view, which was fun. You know what the most fun part of it was, though, which is really weird? Getting to actually describe Chess head to foot. You know, it’s hard to find ways to describe characters when you write from their POV; you don’t want to use hoary old tricks like them looking at themselves in the mirror, and really, just about any other sort of trick to describe your characters feel hoary.
MC: Oh, Friend #1, I hate my hair.
Friend #1: Nonsense. I wish I had long blond curls like yours.
Do you know what I mean? I don’t describe my characters too closely, I don’t think of them in terms of what actor they look like and would never describe them that way. I like to leave that up to you guys to fill in, really. Which makes me think of a fun contest! Which I may mention at the end of this post.
Anyway. So it was really fun to write a short where, because the MC of that story doesn’t know these people, he can actually take in the details of their appearances. They’re still not really facially described, but there’s a much more complete description, down to things like what Chess’s bag actually looks like. (I’ll share that one; it’s faded army-green canvas.) The story is tentatively titled Rick the Brave, but I’m still trying to come up with something better.
Now I have two other projects on my plate, one of which is another short for something else, and one of which is a new series-starter WIP which I’m extremely excited about. I’m not super far into it yet, but what I have I’m very happy with, which is a great feeling. It’s tentatively called Stone and Steam, but that will probably change.
I also have a to-do list which includes five interviews, which I really need to get to. And, I’ve got a couple of dozen emails and forum messages in my inbox from readers, relating to the Downside books, which I swear I will answer, my days have just been disappearing from me lately. But I do get those emails, I do read them, and I do appreciate them immensely. Nothing in this world is as amazing as getting an email from a reader who loved your work. (Well, okay. Sorry readers, but there are a few better moments, I have to admit. Holding your baby for the first time is pretty fucking amazing. But outside of stuff like that, reader email tops the list.)
BUT. That does bring me to a question most of the emails have been asking, and a ton of people on Twitter have been asking, as well as here on the blog. And I really wasn’t able to answer the question, although I’ve known the answer for, oh, three weeks or so now. Ready?
YES. There WILL be more Downside books!!
I don’t have any more details I can share as to number or dates or anything, although I think I can pretty safely say, considering it’s now July, that we’re talking about next year. We’re still working a lot of details out. But I’m extremely pleased and excited, and I hope you guys are too.
Oh, and this relates specifically to books with Del Rey, in the US. I have no definite word one way or the other yet as to UK/EIRE/AUS. Certainly I’m very hopeful, but I can’t say for sure.
This actually reminds me, in a roundabout way, of another question I’ve been asked a few times, and my answer to that. I’ve had a few questions regarding TV/movie adaptations. Honestly? There is essentially no chance in hell of something like that happening, lol. The books that get adapted, generally, are the big huge best-sellers etc. Books with a guaranteed audience of more than a few thousand. But, as I’ve said to those who’ve asked, and I say it as it relates to anything, not just me or my books: if you want it, let people in power know! Write to that TV network or production company, you know? Write to the publisher and tell them you want more books. I’m not, not not not not, suggesting some sort of campaign or anything like that. I feel hesitant saying this at all, because I’m aware of how it could possibly be misconstrued. But I believe, as I’ve said numerous times, that you guys are pretty smart cookies. You’re not going to go on some sort of rampage of calling editors or producers at home, and you’re not going to decide from reading this that I’m saying my books deserve this or it’s your job to do that or anything of that nature and start telling everyone online what a crazy egotist I am that I told you all to start letter-writing campaigns on my behalf. I’m not telling you to do that. I would never tell you to do that. I don’t care if you do or not, really, and this isn’t about me, it’s about you (you’ll see why in a minute). Like I said, this really isn’t about my books. And really, the bottom line–sales numbers, etc.–matter a hell of a lot more.
But with books, as with anything else, it’s good to make yourself be heard. For example, as you might know, I loved the show RENO 911! Shortly after it began I emailed Comedy Central to tell them i love the show and to ask if they were planning a DVD release anytime soon. They replied that no, they weren’t.
But like three months later they announced they were going to release it on DVD.
Was that because of my letter? No, I seriously doubt it. But if they realized they were getting letters requesting it, perhaps that moved it higher up the list. Maybe they just passed my email on to the producer of the show or whatever and I managed to make someone smile.
Here’s another story I told recently. Back when I worked the phone psychic line, I had a caller who literally made me physically ill. I have never in my life spoken to someone so negative. And she wasn’t negative because her life was awful. We had a woman who’d lost her baby to SIDS–horrible–who’d call us once a month or so; she’d call three or four times over the course of one or two nights. It was very difficult to speak to her. She broke all of our hearts, and she made all of us incredibly sad. But not sick. My negative caller wasn’t tragic; she was just, well, an asshole. She lived for free in a house her parents bought for her, but that sucked because she didn’t like the house, it wasn’t the one she’d wanted. She had a good job but that sucked because it was boring and she wasn’t getting promoted as fast as she’d have liked, even though other people were. Oh, but those who were getting promoted were just ass-kissers who spent all their time actually working, the brown-nosing bastards. She was way smarter than they were but because she refused to play their game she kept getting passed over. Oh, and sure, she could get a better job if she wanted to go back to school, but that was too much work and why should she bother with that? It was boring. She didn’t have a boyfriend, which sucked, because she was expected to demean herself by actually talking to them, and why the hell should she bother going out or trying to look nice for a man or being nice to them? No, she didn’t have many friends, because they always wanted to talk about stuff she wasn’t interested in and why should she do that? Why should she make any sort of effort at anything, when clearly society and the wrld in general owed her anything and everything she wanted?
Every suggestion I made to this woman was shot down. Every attempt to get her to see her life in a more positive light, to make constructive changes, to give people a chance, to give herself a chance, was pooh-poohed. Like I said, she was the single most negative person I’ve ever spoken to. Geez, lady, even Hitler smiled once in a while, you know?
It was like trying to chat with a Dementor. By the time I got off the phone with her–after twenty-five minutes or so that felt like a year–I was actually physically ill, and on the verge of tears. And I thought, yeah, lady, your life is always going to suck. I mean, you live for free in a house your parents bought for you, you drive a nice car they bought for you, you have a decent job; you know how many people in this world would kill for that? Do you know how many people I used to talk to a night at that job, genuinely caring, loving, wonderful people, who’d suffered a tragedy or a loss or a run of bad luck and were trying to keep their lives from falling apart completely, but who still had room in their hearts and souls for hope, and for helping other people? Who were still trying with everything they had to survive, and to stay positive?
But nothing positive would ever happen for her. I firmly believe that, and I believe the reason why is because she refused to put anything positive into the world herself.
If all you ever do is create and spread negativity, that’s all that’s ever going to come back to you.
I firmly believe that. That’s not to say it’s your fault when bad things happen, I don’t believe that for a second. But you can’t expect the world to just hand you everything you want.
So that’s my feeling. Getting emails from readers is like a little bit of positivity in my Inbox, and it’s fantastic. If there’s something you want, try doing something positive, something constructive. Send a letter to the HBO studios telling them they should consider making a TV series out of that book series you love; who cares what series it is, just go for it, why not? Send a letter to the publisher who put out that book series you love, asking them to buy more; who cares what series it is, just go for it, why not? While you’re at it, tell them how much you love their other books! Tell them what other sorts of books you’d like to read!
Everyone likes positive feedback. Everyone likes hearing from people to whom their work matters. So let yourself be heard.
Which brings us to a couple more quick things. First, I’ll be posting the first three chapters of CITY OF GHOSTS as a PDF download on the site tomorrow of over the weekend, yes.
Second, I’ve decided at the spur of the moment now to do a contest. I have UK editions of UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC; I’ll send both to one random commenter. Yes, the content is the same, but these are UK editions, with different cover art and they’re a different size and all, and it might be kind of cool to have. (If you’re in the UK I’ll send you the US editions.)
What do you have to do to enter? Post in comments here what you think Chess looks like, for real. You can do a full description, you can compare her to famous people, you can post pictures or do a drawing, whatever you like. But what do you think she actually looks like? (I can assure you, she does not look like that girl on the US cover, lol. But then they never really do, do they?)
I’d looove to see how you picture her! And I’ll pick someone at random for the books. And if someone gets very very close to how she looks in my head, I might gave you a copy of the playlist.