Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gunslinger Ronin Hacker Noir

I've decided that what the world sincerely lacks is a consolidated genre of the things I love. Fantasy/speculative/science fiction? No, no, that's too broad; these are times of specialization.

I shall call this new genre Cowboy Ronin Hacker Noir, and I invite all of you to write it. Now, you might be thinking that's a blended beverage of a little too many flavours... so allow me to present an argument of why it all fits together:

Archetypes (are fun):

The gunslinger.

The ronin.

The hacker.

The noir detective.

What do they have in common? (I mean besides how they are all too often male, which is something that I aim to resolve.)

You have a character living by a code of personal ethics often at war with the world around him. Despite this, he has a level of respect for the others who inhabit his world be they ally or rival—and they are often rivals. Your trade, even if it's killing dudes, is a thing to be honored.

Because this is one of my favorite, types, I totally loved the movie Drive. I'm not a big fan of violent movies—I don't enjoy torture porn or Tarantino films. But Drive is so elegant in its violence—it is just what it needs to be. That movie is tight and it is beautifully filmed.

It's also better than the novella because the prose is a little heavy-handed with its noir message of enjoy this silent moment of happiness because life wants to kick your head in. The movie just devastates you one narrative line, but if you watched it and felt it needed fleshing out then you should read the novella.

What redeems Driver for me in the movie, besides that he's played by Ryan Gosling who can light up a set with one slow smile, is that his adherence to his code is what makes him likable but also ultimately damns him.

I want a book that is as well crafted as that movie. I want you to know you shouldn't like a character, and to know he is damned and it's all going to end in blood and feathers, but to still care. And these archetypes and the stories that grow around them are the best framework for doing so. It's not even about being cruel or sad or making people upset... it's about creating something with all that darkness so that the one slow smile that lights the set shines bright enough to stay with you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fear facing

There is an idea that has been following me around for the past two years, and I am terribly frightened of it. Name an excuse for why a writer can't/shouldn't/doesn't write something, and I've probably used it.

I'm not ready. It's not ready. It's stupid. It won't sell. I need to do more research. I don't know what happens.

All of them pretty masks for the truth of it: I am scared of this idea. Scared of what it could be. Scared of how others go ohhhh when they hear about it. Scared that I am ready, and it will sell, and I do know what happens.

About two years ago, I went to Anticipation where Neil Gaiman was the guest of honor. Something happened at that con, some gnawing lurking thing. I realized that I did not want any of this "author" business if it meant I had to cease being treated like a person.

Let me clarify: I don't mean that I refuse to brand myself. I'm comfortable doing that, and I've had a little practice doing that.

I mean the point when the deification happens. I'm not actually sure if our society, the way it currently runs, knows how to love an author without making them into a celebrity. We have such a cult of fame—which is not unique to this time. There may be some kind of genetic memory linked to monarchies and tribes. Or maybe it's just survival of the fittest says look at what the "fittest" is doing and learn to mimic or go extinct.

Or maybe it's that there are so many voices and faces, that the internet gives us unlimited access to people and their information, and we're struggling in this flood to find dry land—to find a face and a voice enough of us recognize to offer some kind of focus. We readers follow authors, we cling to them, because we don't trust the traditional sources of guidance and knowledge anymore.

We're going back further, to the fool, the bard, the keeper of the clan's stories.But the problem is before you can tell a story to a million people, you've got to tell it to yourself.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I am learning to knit.

I expect at the rate I'm going that someone will have bought one of my manuscripts before I figure out what I'm doing, because as you can see I haven't learned what happens after you get a row of stitch-y things yet.