Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sometimes You Find It

...and sometimes it finds you.

Writing is often a treasure hunt in which you have no map, no shovel, and in many cases, one you hadn't even realized that you had begun. And by "Writing" I mean "every moment of your life", because if you call yourself a writer (and why shouldn't you?) then pretty much anything you do intrinsically becomes a component of the writing process. Writing that statement, true as it is, makes me cringe, if only because I wouldn't want anyone to get the mistaken impression that being a writer means all you need to do is traipse around feeling poetical all the time; some of that is fine, but the main thing is you need to work. Even when you don't appear as though you are working, you must be working. I'll never forget listening to the writer Jack Ketchum talk about the difficulties of explaining to non-writers what the writing process is like. He was speaking of a girlfriend who was harping on him for not working and for just "staring at the wall". His answer? "That's writing, sometimes!" So true. Thought, experience, spacing out--all are invaluable to the inevitable act of actually getting words down on paper.

But sometimes, staring at the wall is just staring at the wall. All depends if you are working or not.

I took Starro the Conqueror beagle on a walk today, a day which was yet another thoroughly dismal gray February day in New Endland. I wore my sweatshirt with the beagle-frayed cuffs because I wanted to feel the chill, but also a hat and gloves because I didn't want it to seep into me. We were going at a pretty brisk pace and I was happy that my wife had been walking Star so much because she wasn't pulling like she did when she was a puppy.

We call Star the Sphinx sometimes because of the way she likes to perch along the back of our sectional sofa; when walking she can't resist leaping onto the many low stone walls that border the properties around town, just like a kid who can't seem to avoid rushing right towards the craggy rocks at the beach. I'm leading her along and part of the stone wall she is prancing along serves as the railing for a short bridge that spans a brook, one that runs swiftly even when not saturated with three solid days of snow, spit and rain like the surrounding countryside has been. I pause a moment and watch the brook flow, guaging it's depth. I realized that if Star were somehow to slip from both her harness and the wall itself to drop to the icy water below, that I would have virtually no chance to rescue her before the current carried her away. I'd have to leap the wall and make my way down the muddy embankment and hope that she didn't panic. Even if she could swim against the current--unlikely, given it's speed and her stubby legs, she'd have nowhere to go, as the sides of the brook were stone walls a good foot higher than the water, making it like a miniature canal. Far downstream--it was hard to tell through the underbrush, it looked like there might be a footbridge, but I didn't think it would stop her. I think she'd go right under it, and be lost.

This is what I'm thinking as I watch the dark water. I realize that Star has stopped her pacing to look at the water too, and then she turns back to me and for a moment we seem to sharing a common mind.

"I'd go after you," my half of the mind thought.

"I know you would," she thought in return, and went back to staring at the water, her floppy beagle ears brushing the lip of the stone wall.

Then the smell of wood smoke mixed with the peaty aromas of wet earth and mossy stone already in my nostrils triggered childhood memories that shimmered just beyond the reach of my consciousness. Other details of the present swirled into thosememories; the feel of cooling sweat on the back of my warm neck, the sound of the water below, the precise quality of gray light light that muted further the winter colors around me.

I hadn't gone looking for that moment, but there it was.

I inhaled until my lungs were full, held it, and then released, slowly. This is my signal to myself that I am alive, made of flesh, and not a character in a story.

Then I called my dog and we continued on our way.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Song For While I'm Away

Wow--it has been awhile since I've been here, hasn't it? Look how dusty the place is. Disgraceful. And shocking.

Busy, busy, busy. No excuses for this level of neglect, but...still. I haven't been entirely idle in the gap between this blog and last. I did another round of edits with my incredibly talented editor on Passing Strange. I wrote my first ever Generation Dead short story (well, unless you count Tommy's entire blog), which will be published in an anthology before too long (more on that later), AND I also finished another novel with the working title of Shiny Happy People. I'll let you know up front that this book is 100% zombie-free and is not part of the Generation Dead series.

And you know what?

I really, really like it. I think you will, too.

And books! We've got some books coming out this year, too. Check these release dates out:

March 25 Generacion Dead The first book I've written that I can't read!

May 4 Kiss of Life paperback, which includes a ultra-exclusive sneak peak of Passing Strange!

June 1 Passing Strange U.S. edition, which includes the ultra-exclusive entire text of Passing Strange! Wow!

July 8 Passing Strange U.K. edition, which includes the entire text of the book with bonus alternate spellings! With a special variant cover! The image of which I will post if anyone wants to see it!

Whew, that's a lot going on. I also tried to get Disney to do a special three-in-one gwp (gift-with-purchase) edition of the three books, but it didn't fly. I had suggested that the GWP be a wheel of fine aged cheese, but they politely thanked me for my idea and went to the next item on the agenda. Cheese doesn't really have anything to do with the books(I decided to cut out a scene where Takayuki and Skip Slydell discover that the secret of the zombies' return from death is linked to a particular brand of smoked Gouda found only in little roadside shops in upstate Vermont, for various reasons): I just like cheese.