I’m trying to blog more regularly, I really am, but the truth is I can’t imagine anyone would find anything I have to say, outside of my fiction, at all interesting. So I thought I’d talk a little about what I’ve been working on of late. I figure that will be a good enough start to launch myself into discussing other things.
First, I’m planning my wedding. This has been… interesting. For example, with the invitations, I had to go over three proofs. They got half the stuff right on the first proof, and then on the second, everything they’d gotten right the first time was wrong. But, I’m pleased to say, that although I was convinced it was all going to go horribly wrong, we have the invitations and they are gorgeous.
We also have a photographer – Weddings by Two – who seem amazing and exactly what we wanted (and trust me, finding a wedding photographer who understands you when you say “no lovely dovey crap” is hard). We also have a band – The Manhattan Dolls – and I am crazy excited about them. And a Florist – Mimosa Floral – the florist there, Lilli, is amazing. Like, I want her to be a guest at the wedding not just the florist, because she’s so much fun to talk too and so creative and clever. So everything seems mostly set… but really I feel as though I’m waiting for the next disaster to occur. Fingers crossed it’s nothing major. We do have to get our suits. So there’s that. The whole wedding is hopefully going to have a very classic, NYC, art deco sort of feeling. Lilli is even doing an escort card table arrangement inspired by some of the art of BioShock (one of the most beautiful video games ever).
I’m also teaching fiction writing at Gotham Writers Workshop these days. I don’t want to talk too much about classes, since I think that violates the privacy of my students, but suffice to say it’s been incredibly rewarding. Some of my students are just amazingly talented and it’s awesome working with them. In a hilarious twist (that my boss arranged), I also teach the Gotham classes in the school I went to k-8 in, and where my mother is still on the board, so I know a lot of people there. It’s fun. My 1st grade teacher is now the vice-principal, and I swear she gets a look of panic every time she sees me (I wasn’t the best behaved 1st grader. I wasn’t bad, per se, I just felt I knew more than everybody else, including the teacher, and that they often did things incorrectly). Anyway, if you’re in the city, I highly recommend taking a Gotham class.
And finally, there’s writing! I have a lot of projects going on: For starters, there’s the sequel to All Men of Genius (and the book after that). I have a rough draft. It needs work. I confess I took a break from it a while ago, right around when the book first came out, because I was feeling a little steampunked out. I can tell you that the second book revolves more around Cecily and Jack, the third revolves more around Ashton and his romantic interest*, and the fourth is about Miriam solving the Jack the Ripper case… sort of. So while I have some rough drafts, alas, it’s not looking great for the sequel to get off the ground, due to sales. The paperback comes out November 13th, and based off those sales I’ll make the decision of whether to go ahead with revisions or if it’s just not worth it from a work/return standpoint. I’m as disappointed as you in this, I assure you, but the plan I have for making All Men of Genius a series is extensive (at least 6 books, ending in 1901) and to embark on it, I need to know it’s going to be a worthwhile use of my time.
There’s also, if I’m being honest, the problem of having too many voices in my head. All Men of Genius was my first published novel, and that meant my first reviews and my first sort of interaction with the reading world. I wrote the draft of the sequel before All Men was officially released, but now, when I go back to it and I try to focus on what I loved about it, and who I should be writing it for (me, mostly), I keep hearing critics, reviewers, my agent, my editor… It’s overwhelming and my own voice is just a whisper next to this. Like, to the point where I’ve almost forgotten it. This makes going back to the sequel both terrifying and emotionally exhausting, especially since it’s in need of such dire rewrites. I don’t entirely know how to get these voices out of my head; I don’t read reviews anymore (there aren’t many happening these days, the books been out so long), I try not to talk with anyone about the sequel if I know they have opinions, but the voices persist (to be clear, I mean this metaphorically – I don’t literally hear voices). I need to make the sequel have more suspense and action, I need to focus on character, I need fewer characters, steampunk needs more commentary on colonialism and it’s my job to do it, it has to be funnier, but don’t use those modern language/victorian language jokes, people didn’t like those, and so on and so on. They tell you being published will make you crazy, but they never really specify how. And no one will really talk to me about it, either – I’m not sure what could be said to make me remember my own voice for this series, but all I get are either their voices or “ignore the other voices” which is way easier said than done. I don’t mean to sound like a neurotic writer, and I apologize if this seems like whining; I am incredibly grateful for my book having been published and for all the incredibly positive responses to it from all of you. It’s possible I just need to sit down and read a lot of Oscar Wilde plays. Or maybe actually read All Men of Genius, which I haven’t done since it came out. I think I’m a little afraid to do so. What if it isn’t good?
So currently, I’ve been working on other projects. Those are easier, and much more pleasurable to focus on. And what are those other project you may ask?
Well, there’s the Noir Sci-fi. That takes place in the future, where the ice caps have melted and NYC is a city of building tops, bridges and permanently moored boats. It follows a detective, Simone Pierce, as she gets wrapped up in a case far more complex than she had originally suspected. I’ve taught classes on film noir in past, and studied it extensively, so I really enjoyed playing with the genre conventions, both in putting them in a futuristic setting while keeping them feeling steeping in classic noir, and also in some genderplay. The tone is pulpy and dark, and it’s another sort of retrofuturism. I’m feeling really good about it. A friend in my writing group was reading the most recent draft on the train and missed her stop, which tells me I’m doing something right. My agent is currently looking it over, so hopefully she’ll have some good things to tell me soon.
I also just finished a draft of a book for 7-10 year olds, a chapter book, about a brother and sister (and their pet capybara) whose parents die in an accident and who go to live with their aunt in a very odd town, where nothing ever seems to change. And then they find a crank, and a hole to put it in, and begin winding… The plan is for this book to be heavily illustrated by my extremely talented brother. I’ve only just given him the book, though (right after he graduated with his MFA), and we have yet to discuss the way we’re going to do it. I think it’s going to be a great book, though. It deals with themes that I think are important; fear of change, dealing with the death of a loved one.
And finally, I’m working on a YA book. I don’t want to say too much about this, as I only have about 80 pages, but it’s about a teenage boy whose mother has early onset Alzheimer’s, and it’s also about videogames, race and identity, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. My fiance, who is something of an expert in the field of YA lit, has been reading the pages and says its good. It’s nice to have an at-home consultant.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. Was that incredibly boring for you?
*This is a spoiler, so stop reading if you’re not up for it: sadly, Anthony doesn’t stay. Anthony was based on a lot of the straight boys I fooled around with in college – they enjoyed experimenting with a guy, and even were sometimes sort of romantic (on the DL), but there was really never any doubt in their mind that they were going to marry a woman someday. But I promise Ashton’s new gentleman is fantastic and funny and nervous and sexy and in my mind, played by Hugh Dancy, which is a plus. And a much more developed character than Anthony ever was.