Ch-ch-ch-changes

Time to change the oil. Because as a wise man said, “Don’t want to be an oily man.”

Okay, if you clicked through that, you probably need to listen to the original:

I mentioned in my June Goals post that I had to change my writing routine. That goal isn’t just there for a whim. It’s also the reason the blog has been a little more silent than usual. I’ve started a new day job (just finished my first month, in fact), which means I’ll be changing pretty much all of my routines. I have to get ready earlier as my short walk to work has been replaced with a moderately long bus ride.

So, my new plan is to not turn on the internet when I wake up. Social media has to wait for the bus. Fortunately, I’ve retrained myself to be able to read in a moving vehicle (There was some epic moments of nausea those first weeks) which used to be such a pleasure. I’ve also decided to write on my lunch break and on my bus rides home. I’ve made some progress, averaging five to ten handwritten pages a day. Given what I’ve been transcribing in my mornings, that averages to about 100 words per page. Not much, but it’s a start. More importantly, I feel pretty good about the words. And feel momentum building on the third Thunder Road novel because I’m immersed in it every day.

As fun as it was to have an (all-too-brief) flirtation with being a full time writer, I was not at my most productive. Structure and routine have always been an ally to my writing in the past. It has been weird working somewhere new after spending twelve years in one place. But weird is good. Weird is different. New. New things to do, a new location, new people to meet. Weird is good. Inertia had always led me to believe that this kind of transition would be draining, rather than energizing. So far that has not been the case at all.

Which is why I’m going to end this post with a song I’ve been listening to a lot in the past couple of months:

Move Away and Shine, and above all:

Write on!

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Brandon Bound!

I’m off to my old stomping grounds of Brandon, Manitoba today to join fellow Manitoba fantasy and science fiction writers Shen Braun, Patrick Johanneson, and Craig Russell in what is shaping up to be a really fun event.

We’ll be reading from our work (some published, some you won’t see anywhere else–at least not yet) at 2:00 PM and there will be snacks and limited edition chapbooks! The BU bookstore will be on hand selling copies of Thunder Road, Black Bottle Man, and Tesseracts 14, 15, 16. Come by Brandon University and join us! We’ll be in the Elephant Room (top floor of the Brandon University Students’ Union building). There’s an elevator if you go in the side (north) door, or you can climb the stairs if you go in the front (east) door. Parking on campus is free on the weekend, so you don’t need to feed the meters.

It’s been too long since I’ve been back to Brandon, another commitment kept me from attending this year’s PrairieCon out west, so I’m hoping to see some of my gaming pals out today. If you catch me inexplicably playing Rock-Paper-Scissors in a corner somewhere, it’s probably part of a Vampire the Masquerade grudge match from 1996. Move along, nothing to see here.

Write on!

June Goals

It’s that time again!

In the interest of keeping me honest, here are my latest monthly goals:

  • Keep writing Tombstone Blues. I’m not going to set a specific word count goal, I just want to keep up the forward progress and keep momentum rumbling. Okay, who am I kidding, I want to hit at least 50000 words in the manuscript by month end (which is not looking promising), which brings me to the next item:
  • Revamp my writing routine. There’s a good reason for this (besides getting my ass off Facebook and Twitter a bit more).
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Finish drafting the second short story I started. Another one set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. I’ve written a story with this character before, and love the voice (Hopefully you’ll all be able to read that one soon!). These first 2000 words feel more like the beginning of a new novel, but I think I can make it work as a short story.

How did I do last month?

  • Write at least 31000 words on the third book in the Thunder Road trilogy. Why 31000? It works out to 1000 words a day. 1K a day for May. I like the way it sounds. Also, somewhere around 30000 words is when a work in progress starts to actually feel like a book to me. My first drafts are usually in the 60K range (Thunder Road was 68000 in first draft, and Tombstone Blues was 62000 words in first draft), and so this will take me to roughly the halfway point of the novel (though I have a sneaking suspicion that Book 3, will be the longest of the trilogy)
  • Prepare for my Keycon 30 panels. I’ll be interviewing Ann Aguirre and moderating audience questions as a part of the “Hour with an Author” program. I’m also doing a panel on Myth and Folklore with Karen Dudley and Leia Getty, and sharing a reading slot with David Annandale.
  • Draft a new short story (I’m told there will be a post-Keycon write-off with some of my writing chums, and I always get lots of work done at these things, so what the hell, let’s add this to the mix).

Not too shabby! All goals made, despite spending three days at Keycon (and one day recovering from it), getting the vegetable garden in the ground, and a few days lost to a vicious headache.

Write on!

An Interview With Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia bought one of my short stories for the Fungi anthology she edited with Orrin Grey, and so it was an absolute pleasure to meet her at Keycon 30. I’m very excited about her latest project, Young Blood, a YA vampire novel set in Mexico. She’s currently crowdfunding the book on Indiegogo. I hope you’ll consider donating, there’s still ten days left to make this book happen and I really want to read it.

CG: Young Blood started out as a short story. Why did you decide to expand it into a novel?

SMG: I worked on two previous novels that didn’t pan out and I wanted to try something different, something that was short and had more clear-cut fantastic elements. I decided “A Puddle of Blood” could be extended and work as a YA, and it had been well received, so it seemed like a natural fit and I didn’t think there was anything like it around, so it might have some potential to attract readers.

CG: What appeals to you most about vampires as a monster in general, and your vampires in particular?

SMG: I think vampires are creepy fuckers. Nowadays they are popular romantic heroes, but if you look at legends and folklore, they are scary things. Emblems of the plague. You watch Nosferatu, the black and white version or the colour remake, and even though the vampire seems to desire the leading lady, it is NOT the kind of relationship you’d like to be in. It is deadly. Nosferatu is a horrid-looking thing. Those vampires appeal to me more than the romantic ones.

Even with the romantic ones, there are details that are ignored which I find disturbing. Why would a 100 year-old creature want to spend his life in high school, meeting teenagers? There’s a disturbing thing there. Predator double time.

As for my vampires, Atl is inspired by Caribbean and Latin American folklore. I like having a vampire that is a bit different and isn’t romantic. Some of the other vampires in the book take after European vampires, but they are not romantic, either. It was fun having these creatures going around Mexico City and fighting each other.

CG: Why do you feel it’s important to set fiction outside of the big US cities where we commonly see it?

SMG: I just think it’s odd that everything happens in the US. Every single time an alien ship it lands it’s in New York or Washington. Let’s shuffle it around, no? Also, the reactions of the people in a different cultural setting can be very interesting. If you have aliens walking through the slums of Mexico, I think you’d get a very different reaction. I imagine that if they tried to make it into Tepito, a famous low-class, tough neighborhoud (since the time of the Aztecs), they’d come out dead. There are many untapped possibilities when you go for someone who is not the usual protagonist or you transport the action to a setting you normally don’t see.

That’s why Domingo collects garbage. I wanted to have a protagonist who was not upper class or white or emo. Someone who isn’t heroic in the oh-you-are-the-chosen-one kind of way, but still has street smarts and is brave in his own way. And I wanted to put him against Atl, who is older, more sophisticated, more sure of herself, so that we don’t have the older suave male and the younger naive woman.

CG: I’ve only read the sample chapters so far, but I love your portrayal of Mexico City. How did you capture its flavour?

SMG: Thanks. Mexico City is an awesome city. It’s huge. You can find anything in the world there. It’s also ugly as hell. It’s also beautiful. You can walk into 18th century houses and brand new highrises. It’s a labyrinth. It’s a great monster. I love and hate it. I hope some of those feelings come through in the text: what it’s like taking the subway, walking through some of the streets and the like.

CG: What was the most interesting piece of research you found while working on Young Blood?

SMG: I read a lot about the current crime troubles in Mexico, the narco stuff. It’s quite disturbing. If you think fiction is bad, try browsing through some newspaper articles. In a way, writing about these kind of crimes is a bit cathartic because it’s just so freaking scary knowing what’s going on in the place where I was born. I can process the horrors better this way, if it makes any sense.

Anyway, the most interesting factoid is how the narco system began. It started in the 1940s. Farmers in Sinaloa started growing opium poppies. The government of the United States needed an alternate supply of morphine during World War II. They couldn’t get it from Asia due to the war. So they encouraged farmers to grow it for them. They planted the seeds of the cartels. Though the United States loves to talk about the War on Drugs, they got us started on this path.

CG: Do you have any further plans for Atl, Domingo, and Rodrigo if Young Blood gets funded?

SMG: I don’t like doing multi-series books, so this will be the end of them. Unless someone wants a graphic novel. Then GMB Chomichuk can draw it.

CG: I’d definitely buy that! Thanks, Silvia, and good luck with Young Blood!

You can read Chapter 1, 2, and 3 on Silvia’s website. Here’s the trailer for Young Blood:

Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia lives in beautiful British Columbia with her family and two cats. She writes speculative fiction (from magic realism to horror). Her short stories have appeared in places such as Fantasy Magazine, The Book of Cthulhu, Imaginarium 2012The Best Canadian Speculative Writing and Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction. Her first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, is out in 2013.

Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, a Canadian micro-publishing venture specializing in horror and dark speculative fiction. The Innsmouth Free Press website features daily non-fiction and tri-annual fiction issues. Innsmouth Free Press publishes several  high-quality anthologies and novels during the year.

She has co-edited the anthologies Historical LovecraftFuture LovecraftCandle in the Attic Windowand Fungi. The upcoming Dead North will be the first anthology she edited solo.

In 2011, Silvia won the Carter V. Cooper Memorial Prize (in the Emerging Writer category), sponsored by Gloria Vanderbilt and Exile Quarterly. She was also a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize.

To contact Silvia e-mail her at silvia AT silviamoreno-garcia DOT com. You can also find her on Twitterand Google+.