So I haven’t been posting a lot recently because, as usual, I’ve been insanely busy. Also, I’ve been switching gears in what I’ve been doing, trying to focus on finishing my novel, Guardian of the Garden City, instead of letting myself get distracted by other things. As tempting as it is to submit to every call for submissions that comes my way, it has really been slowing down the time I’ve been spending focusing on what really matters to me artistically.
When I hit a wall with my novel, I starting researching a lot of stuff that I felt would be relevant to helping the story flourish, both revisiting a lot of old favourites such as Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum and China Mieville’s Kraken, and taking a look at new stuff such as Paul Stoller & Cheryl Olkes’ In Sorcery’s Shadow.
The big problem with Guardian is that there’s a very particular mood that I’m trying for with the supernatural — that feeling of obsession and madness, of the power that comes from looking at aspects of the world in a strange new way. A mood is the most ephemeral of things, especially because on top of that I’m trying to capture the right feel of Victoria, cult capital of the world. The book is supposed to explore Victoria’s strange history and urban legends, and — most importantly — capture part of its soul. What is written in my novel should be true, from a certain metaphorical perspective.
This is very challenging, ambitious stuff, which is why it’s taking such a long time. Frustrating yet fascinating. I think my next book project will be The Wizards of Wales, an exploration of magicians in Welsh folklore. Then I’ll be operating within an established tradition, not needing to build my own cosmology from scratch. That sounds so much easier.
Tomorrow I teach the third installment in my “Writing for Graphic Novels & Comix” class as part of Langara College’s “Graphic Novel & Comix” program. It’s an honour to be one of the program instructors, and a really exciting experience to be teaching people how to best organize their ideas, develop their story, and convert it into a comic script. Many people say that often the instructor learns as much about the subject as the people he’s teaching, and it certainly true that preparing each class has made me think long and hard about the steps for creating a good story and a good comic, including character motivation, the arc of a plot, and the composition of a comic page.
It will be fascinating to discover how I feel about all of this at the end of the final class, and also what comic stories my students will produce. It has been an exciting adventure so far.
I always liked Anaconda of the Serpent Society because she has such a different body type from like 90% of all superhero comic book women. What makes it especially interesting was that, in all the comics with Anaconda I read, her body type wasn’t a defining part of her character. Usually if a woman is large in the comics, that’s the main thing about her, and often either a point of tragedy (such as the She-Thing), humour (Big Bertha), or both (Gamma-Burn). But Anaconda’s gimmick isn’t that she’s big — it’s that she can stretch her arms and use them to squeeze the life out of Captain America. She just also happens to be a big girl. Which is cool. I think she dated Rock Python for a while.
Okay, so I promised myself I wouldn’t answer call for submissions so that I would have time to finally finish writing my occult novel Guardian of the Garden City. As a result, I’ve only been submitted stuff for four calls for submissions. Oy. But I’m finally finishing off the last call for submission (a novella about an Egypt-inspired fantasy realm), and then I can finally finish Guardian. Well, once I also finish rereading The Obscene Bird of Night by Jose Donoso, since that’s necessary background material for my book. But maybe, just maybe, if nothing else major distracts me for the next half year or so, I’ll actually have Guardian of the Garden City done. Man, that would feel so awesome. So, world, please don’t throw anything my way until it’s done.