Dear friend, brilliant poet, and excellent tour guide Richard Cambridge has finished a remarkable “autobiographical work of fiction” called RIDE. I’ve read a good bit of it, and I have to say, it is only a matter of time before it gets picked up. I’m not a huge memoir fan, but Richard’s handling of the tale and voice are so unique, they give new meaning to the phrase “prose-poetry” and stretch the limits of what a memoir can be. The book features a great cast of characters, including a gentle giant who digs Fidel Castro, a cocaine caravan of truckers, a gypsy welder, a woman who communes with dolphins, and of course, the author himself. After encountering some of these folks, you might ask yourself what of the book is real and what is imagined. As Richard gently reminds us, “All of this is true, but some of it didn’t happen.”
Here’s a brief synopsis:
RIDE is an autobiographical coming of age story that centers around a recently-widowed American poet who was an activist during the height of the Civil Rights struggle and the protest movement against the Vietnam War. Two days before a scheduled poetry reading, the poet’s car breaks down, so, in an attempt to make the gig on time, he decides to hitchhike to his destination. The clock-racing trip takes 17 separate rides with 17 different mystical characters to complete and becomes a 1,000 mile odyssey through fifty years of American culture as experienced by a man struggling to find resolution in the wake of his wife’s death.
Be on the lookout for this one – it is truly phenomenal.
Julie Day and I check in with one another each week to make sure we’re staying honest in our work. It’s a great way to keep our minds on our writing without the pressure of having to show our shitty first drafts to someone, though I doubt that Julie’s first drafts are anywhere close to shitty. Her prose is like buttah. She’s enjoyed a slew of story acceptances recently -- here's what she has to say about them, and about her current WIP:
My story "Finding Your Way to the Coast" can be found in the Fall 2012 edition of A cappella Zoo. It's a dark love story, set in Paris, that involves ghosts, gargoyles, and a portal driven by grief.
My story "Paradigm Shift" is forthcoming from the online magazine Electric Velocipede. It's about "Toddlers and Tiaras," teenage rage, and robots. I still don't have a date for this one.
It originated as an experiment for Bonnie Stufflebeam's Art and Words Collaborative Show at The Boulevard in Fort Worth, Texas.
My story "China Island" is creepy and heartwarming and definitely dis-quietening. Classic Julie. It revolves around an island snow storm, a missing elderly man, and his obsessive, younger neighbor. It's forthcoming in the Winter 2013 edition of the online magazine The Colored Lens.
I’m also currently embroiled in a novella called ‘Idle Hands Make the Devil's Work.’ It's about a family of women addicted to both multi-verse travel and the devil man who makes it all possible. Oh, and sex, drugs and revenge: it's about that, too.
I had the pleasure of reading "Paradigm Shift," and can assure you, you need to read it. The rest sound unbelievably cool, and I can bet that, with Julie’s beautiful prose thrown into the mix, they will all be breathtaking reads.
Erin Enberg and I go way back and have shared a strange obsession or two over the years *cough Adam Lambert cough*. Erin is tricksy – she’s quiet and cool and kind, so you might miss the fact that she’s also one of the hardest working and fiercely talented ladies out there. I think 2013 is going to be her breakout year, and her movie Arabel is the project that is going to bust down the barriers for her! Here’s a synopsis, a link to the movie site, its twitter account, and to Erin’s awesome website (if you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you really have to check it out):
Arabel is a short film set in WWII about an American POW in Nazi-Occupied France who struggles with prison life. I wrote and co-directed it with Jayson Lobozzo, who was also the director of photography. We began working on it last January, filmed it in April and just have to shoot the ending. It was all filmed in Maine with a fantastic crew and cast. The script is based on a flash fiction piece I wrote called “The Stalag, 1944.” We expanded upon the main character's surreal experiences in a German prison camp, even making a photo of Greta Garbo come to life as an entirely new character. We plan to premiere it in February 2013. You can view the trailer and stay updated at www.arabelthemovie.com, follow us on twitter at twitter.com/arabelthemovie and can see more of my work at www.erinenberg.com.
Ed Ferrara is one of the most interesting guys you will ever meet. He’s articulate, funny, insanely intelligent, and he used to be a professional wrestler. What?! That’s right, y’all. With masks and spandex pants and the whole bit. Which is part of the reason his story, “Gig Marks,” which was featured in the collection Lucha Gore: Scares from the Squared Circle, kicks so much ass (pun intended). Ed is the real deal. Everything from the title to the locker room banter to the choreographed fight sequences reeks of authenticity.
Ed’s wicked prose is the other part of why “Gig Marks” is so great. It takes a certain kind of special to set a story of a man eaten alive by a guilt so strong it has the power of resurrection in the gritty, sad world of semi-pro wrestling. So wait – someone comes back from the dead? Kind of. Allow me to introduce, ladies and gentlemen, the Blood-Covered Harbinger of Doom, Star of All Your Nightmares, The Kid, one of the creepiest characters I’ve encountered in a while. The Kid quietly, relentlessly hunts our man ringside until he gets what he wants. Or does he? You’ll have to read the story to decide, but let me warn you, the ending to “Gig Marks” is as merciless as a well-executed sleeper hold: you don’t see it coming until it’s too late, and by then, you’re out for the count. Find it here.
John Adcox is a successful writer on many fronts (click on his name to check out his site), and now his debut novel, Blackthorne Faire, “is coming in May, 2013 from ePic Books in hardcover—and in a very special enhanced eBook edition, complete with a music soundtrack, video, story-relevant games, an interactive map, and a whole lot more. Think of it as a real-life version of the Magician’s Book from Narnia, or a volume from the library at Hogwarts. This is what an eBook on your Tablet or Smartphone should be.” Be watching for that. I can’t wait to see what they do with the e-book. I hear whispers of some very, very cool stuff.
Also from his site:
Welcome to Blackthorne Faire, a modern Renaissance Festival where nothing is what it seems. It is a place where a lost tune rediscovered in the Hidden Book of Secret Knowledge stirs long forgotten magic ... Where never-before-seen Tarot Cards foretell unexpected futures that always, always come true ... And where true love is found and lost and lost again in the shadow of a coming war. Beware, mortal, oh, beware the sounds that echo over the hills, across the bluffs, and through the winding pathways, for no one can hear the horns of Elfland and remain unchanged.
John also has a cool blog where he reviews stuff, called John Adcox Reviews Pretty Much Anything. Check it.
I also am going to re-pimp Zack and Will Ludwigsen's upcoming books . Zack's book, as I mentioned before, is called No Return and is out March 5, 2013. Here’s what Liz Hand had to say about it: Zachary Jernigan's genre-defying epic raises the bar for literary speculative fiction. It has the sweep of Frank Herbert's DUNE and the intoxicatingly strange grandeur of Gene Wolfe's BOOK OF THE NEW SUN, with a decadent, beautifully rendered vision all its own. One of the most impressive debuts of recent years."
And from his Amazon Page:
On Jeroun, there is no question as to whether God exists--only what his intentions are.
Under the looming judgment of Adrash and his ultimate weapon--a string of spinning spheres beside the moon known as The Needle--warring factions of white and black suits prove their opposition to the orbiting god with the great fighting tournament of Danoor, on the far side of Jeroun's only inhabitable continent.
From the Thirteenth Order of Black Suits comes Vedas, a young master of martial arts, laden with guilt over the death of one of his students. Traveling with him are Churls, a warrior woman and mercenary haunted by the ghost of her daughter, and Berun, a constructed man made of modular spheres possessed by the foul spirit of his creator. Together they must brave their own demons, as well as thieves, mages, beasts, dearth, and hardship on the perilous road to Danoor, and the bloody sectarian battle that is sure to follow.
On the other side of the world, unbeknownst to the travelers, Ebn and Pol of the Royal Outbound Mages (astronauts using Alchemical magic to achieve space flight) have formed a plan to appease Adrash and bring peace to the planet. But Ebn and Pol each have their own clandestine agendas--which may call down the wrath of the very god they hope to woo.
Who may know the mind of God? And who in their right mind would seek to defy him? Gritty, erotic, and fast-paced, author Zachary Jernigan takes you on a sensuous ride through a world at the knife-edge of salvation and destruction, in this first installment of one of the year's most exciting fantasy epics.
So you know, check it out. It’s gonna be gooooood.
And here’s what Zack said about Will in his Next Big Thing post: Will is one of my favorite authors, personally and professionally. I know of at least two novels he has written (or is in the process of writing; not sure about the second one) that a smart publisher would do well to buy right now, because they're that good. Seriously, he's written scenes that have me grinning like a madman and pumping my fist in the air.
As for short fiction, he's been selling to professional markets for over a decade, with one collection already out and a second on its way. In Search of and Others—which includes an introduction from one Jeffrey Ford—comes out on March 1st, 2013, and you should totally buy it.
Here's a taste of what you'll find if you do:
A house inches eight hundred miles to confess its horrible crime. The last resident of a mental institution discovers he's not alone. A middle-schooler performs an experiment to determine how much time we fit in dreams. Boys looking for wonder find more than they're expecting in the Adirondacks with Charles Fort. A detective learns everything he's ever wanted to know... and some things he hasn't.”
I hardily second all of this. I had the good fortune to read “In Search Of” in advance, and all I can say is, get ready. More than one of these stories made me misty, and several made me afraid to turn out the light at night. But all of them have that Will Ludwigsen je ne sais quoi that makes all of his writing so exceptional. Each story is , in a word, beautiful.
Now, for my answers.
What is the working title of your next book or story?
Where did the idea come from for the book or story?
WC started out as an 8-page short story I wrote for a creative writing class. It was meant to be a modern fairy tale in the vein of Angela Carter’s work, and while I’m pretty sure I fell far short of that mark, I must have done something right, because across the board, people wanted to know “What happens next?” Answering that question turned into a novel.
What genre does your book or story fall under?
This has been a tricky question from the get-go. I’ve heard literary fantasy (though David Anthony Durham says no), paranormal fantasy, historical fantasy, dark fantasy, contemporary fantasy, good old general fantasy, upmarket fiction, and (I think erroneously) commercial fiction. It has elements of all of these, with a little bit of Gothic, Victoriana, horror, and maybe even romance thrown in for good measure.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oy. This is a little bit tough for me, because I don’t really watch movies very often, and I am not up on a lot of actors and actresses. Let’s see …
Jake: Henry Cavill, maybe? He certainly fits the physical description, though just a teeny bit short. I could also see Alexander Skarsgaard, though his coloring is pretty much the opposite of Jake’s. If either of these dudes should ever find themselves cast in the role, however, I’m going to have to do some serious rewriting to include more nudity.
Lucinda: Errrr … this is tough. Evan Rachel Wood, maybe? Whoever it is has be sort of tough and tomboyish, and able to pull off supernatural shenanigans in a convincing matter.
Gerald: Jason Flemying! Though I think I just want him to play everyone with red hair, ever, because I think he’s hot. If Rupert Grint were a little bit older, he might could do it, and if Ralph Fiennes were a bit younger, he definitely could (but then, he can do anything). Paul Bettany, perhaps? I dunno.
Serpetina: Toughest one yet. I want to say Charlize Theron, because she has the looks and the gravitas (plus, she’s hotter than 500 hells), but she’s totally wrong physically. Serpetina is a wee thing, not an Amazonian goddess like Ms. Theron. Christina Ricci might be good, as might Dakota Fanning once she gets a bit older. That Amanda Seyfried looks good too, but I haven’t ever seen her act in anything, so I don’t know if she’d be able to pull off the delicate balance between being sympathetically damaged and just flat out evil.
Grace: I would love Julianna Marguiles for this. I hope she continues to defy the aging process, just in case.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book or story?
Surrounded by magic and caught between worlds, Lucinda, Serpetina, Jake, and Gerald struggle to define what is real, love or hate, forgiveness or revenge, need or desire.
Will your book or story be self-published or represented by an agency?
Not sure. I’m hoping for represented by an agent.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I really, really can’t answer this. I started the ms about 6 years ago, then put it aside for a while, unfinished. I’d pull it out every now and then and work on it, but I didn’t get serious, really serious, until the summer of 2010. I queried it this past October, but as to how long any of the drafts took, I really cannot say.
What other books or short stories would you compare this story to within your genre?
In my query letter, I impishly compared myself to authors Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Hand, Susanna Clarke, Deborah Harkness, and Anne Rice. I was told by someone who is in the biz and has read the novel that these were spot on, though, truthfully, I don’t think I am near the writer any of these folks are (with the exception of Harkness – yuck. Actually, her writing isn’t so terrible, it’s some other stuff, but that’s another post). The story was very definitely inspired by “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” though I doubt that shows, and I tend to go big on the prose like Anne Rice. I want to feel like some of the themes hearken to Liz Hand’s earlier stuff, but she’s a goddess, so I am sure that’s wishful thinking. It’s got a contemporary element that could be considered similar to that in “Neverwhere,” but damn, that’s a great fucking book, so again, not sure I live up. It’s got witches and romance like Harkness, but I hope that is where the similarities end.
Who or what inspired you to write this book or story?
This was one of the first fantastical things I ever wrote. It came shortly on the heels of being introduced to Angela Carter, Jeannette Winterson, AS Byatt, and Atwood novels other than “Handmaid’s Tale.” The short story that spawned the novel was written for Reg McKnight’s class, who was the first person to ever set me straight about the myth of “genre” fiction. I was also in the middle of some fairly intense study of the Romantic writers and Victorian literature at the time, and I think a lot of that aesthetic comes through (it’s not a fast- paced, action-packed, page-turner by any stretch of the imagination). I also visited Tintagel, England somewhere in there as part of a class on the King Arthur legend that I took at Oxford University, and the combination of the physical aspects of Tintagel and the history of England got me going, as well. I did some reading about various European witch hysterias, which heavily influenced the novel. As it turns out, the events of the novel closely resemble those of the Salem witch hysteria, although I did not do any research about that incident until after several people made the assumption that Salem was the basis for the story. As an aside, the outbreak of witch persecutions follow an amazingly similar pattern, no matter the country or time frame, a phenomenon I find most eye-opening. So, in sum, I was inspired by reading a bunch of beautifully written stories and poems, by an odd little tourist town on the edge of the world, and some of the most horrific historical events that have ever transpired.
What else about the book or story might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s got words? I don’t know. It seems like there is a little something something for everyone in it – alternate worlds, time travel, scenes that make you go “eeewwww,” true love, betrayal, unrequited love, fudge, witches, creatures, creepy buildings – you name it, it’s in there. I hope, though, that rather than just a big, messy mish-mash, I’ve done something that defies genre and feels cohesive and new. I hope my characters come off on even ground; I truly do not want this to be another novel where seemingly powerful chicks somehow end up needing to be saved by a big strong man. We all need to be saved by someone big and strong sometimes, but I don’t think gender should come into it. Ideally, a reader will come away thinking all of the characters were flawed in some way, yet redeemable in others. I tried to do something a little deeper with the characters than what you might find in other novels that involve some of these elements without losing the sense of magical otherworldliness those same elements bring to the party. Sort of realistic fantasy. Is there such thing as realistic fantasy? If not, can we make it up? How does that sound?