After cataloging the process of writing Strawberry Fields, I had intended to continue the series by talking about the revision, but then I realized that this would take far too long to get started. I like to leave my books for a few weeks before I start revising, giving me time and distance so I can come back to them with a new, fresh perspective. Rather than make you wait for that, I’ll start in the early, early stages of my next book, tentatively titled Not the Real Title.
My goals for Not the Real Title are:
1. I want to write a dark fantasy. I love to read Dark Fantasies, and I bet I could do a good one, and I’ve had this idea nagging at me for literally years, so I think it’s finally time. This is, however, a big step away from what I’ve published in the past, and I don’t want to try to pull as many readers as I can from one series to the other, which leads us to:
2: I want to make it stylistically similar to the John Cleaver books. This does not mean that I want to write another “sympathetic serial killer in small town America,” but that I want to repeat some of the deeper elements: it should have a horror feel, it should have a strong, flawed character, and it should show horrible things through a lens of dark humor (I really missed the dark humor in Strawberry Fields, and I really want to get back to it). On the other hand:
3: I want the new book to be stylistically different from the Cleaver books as well. Instead of short, single-viewpoint stories with a strong single focus, I want to tell a much larger, more epic story that draws on multiple viewpoints. Why? Because I like reading that kind of thing, and despite a couple of attempts I’ve never really written it before. I want to stretch myself and try new things. And speaking of new things:
4: I want to write an “Industrial Fantasy,” which is my own code for “steampunk with a very dark feel.” Like I said, I’ve had this idea cooking in my head for years (approximately six, including one semi-draft written for NaNoWriMo a few years ago), but I’ve never really had the chance to do it right. I want huge cities and extreme poverty and plenty of hope and despair and intrigue and giant robots; imagine an epic fantasy horror as written by Victor Hugo. Steampunk is sort of kind of gaining ground in the marketplace, so it’s popular but still very much in its infancy as a solid, cohesive genre, so I think it’s a good time, if not a perfect time, to try it out.
5: The real working title is Nightbringer, by the way. It’s just that Not the Real Title was funnier (and, in a sense, equally accurate). I doubt I’ll keep that title, but you never know.
So, with these goals in mind, where do I start? With pure, unfiltered brainstorming. I’ll let you in one some of it next time. Unless I do a WFC recap first, which is likely. Be prepared.