Many, many years ago (we’re talking the early 1990’s) I decided after years of writing short stories and scripts that I would finally take on the task of writing an honest-to-gosh novel.
My inspiration for this novel wound up being auto-biographical: At that time I was working at a Rehabilitation Center and caught a nasty cold that just wouldn’t go away. It lingered for a very long time, more than two weeks, and after experiencing a weird (possible) hallucination while driving (I’ll get to that in a second), I decided to go see a Doctor. I was checked up and told my system was in bad shape and that I was on the doorstep of having full blown pneumonia. I was prescribed antibiotics and, after a few days, made a full recovery.
The weird (possible) hallucination I experienced occurred a few blocks from my house and on a main road. I was driving up to an intersection and beside my car was a stopped public bus. Its rear hood was open and the vehicle was going no-where. In my very weakened/feverish state, the bus and its exposed motor looked like something out of a dystopian sci-fi film. I did a double/triple take and stared at the thing and couldn’t help but wonder how alien the whole thing looked (hence the reason I say “possible” hallucination).
After I recovered, the bizarre image of that bus lingered in my mind as I considered writing that first novel. I used the bus image as a springboard to think up a story of someone who, like me, becomes seriously ill and, subsequently, sees things that aren’t there.
In those early days of writing what eventually became the novel Haze, the process went along like many of the books I’ve written since. I had to grasp for ideas and shift through ideas that worked and discard those that didn’t. The story was originally conceived as more of a sci-fi work, but the concept of making it a murder mystery wound up being far more appealing.
One of the first things I wrote, a fictionalized version of the novel’s protagonist seeing a bizarre mechanical contraption on the side of the road, basically a written version of what I experienced and the very inspiration for my writing the novel, wound up having no place in the work when all was said and done. Much to my regret, I had to cut that scene out.
In fact, that first novel taught me one incredibly valuable lesson regarding writing: Focus on telling the story you want to tell concisely.
The fact is that the early drafts of Haze spent waaaaaay too much time on the protagonist’s illness when the meat of the story, indeed the whole point of the story, occurs immediately afterwards. At this late date I couldn’t tell you how many drafts I poured, sweat, and bled over before that realization hit me. In those early drafts I was boring potential readers with stuff that wasn’t necessary to read.
So the book’s opening act was heavily trimmed and, regrettably, I realized the source of the story’s inspiration simply had to go.
I eventually published Haze in 2008 and focused on writing more and more books. To this day I have 9 works out there: 7 novels, 1 graphic novel, and 1 book of short stories with more to come.
At this point in time I’ve built up a good head of steam with these new works and had no intention of going back to any of my previous books and revising them (Like many others, I too am uncomfortable with what, for example, George Lucas did with the original Star Wars films).
However, unlike Star Wars, Haze was, much to my bank account’s regret, never a wildly successful cultural phenomena. It was a, in my opinion, cool novel that put a ghostly spin on the murder-mystery genre. (There’s more to it than that and it remains perhaps the most autobiographical novel I’ve ever written even above and beyond the fact that it was inspired by a real life event, but that’s a story for another day)
Very recently, while working on the latest Corrosive Knights book, I reached a point where I needed to take a little bit of a break. Writing novels can be creatively exhausting and I worried that with my latest work I might be hitting something of a rut.
Being something of a work-a-holic, however, meant that I had to fill my creative time with something else. For whatever reason, I decided to give Haze a fresh look. Enough time, I reasoned, had passed to the point where reading the work might be (almost) like coming at it for the very first time.
So I did just that and found that the story held up but that my writing skills had improved over the course of the seven years since releasing the book. The only thing that really needed re-working, I found, was a early hallucination/nightmare the protagonist experienced. As originally written, the whole thing read far more confusing than it should and needed a polish.
As for the rest of the book, what I wound up doing was cleaning up grammatical issues I missed before. As I said, the story remained roughly the same but now, it was my hope, it would read like a novel I wrote today versus when I was starting out.
For those who previously ordered the Kindle version of the book, you can download the “new” 2015 version free of charge. Not all that many people actually bought the paperback version, but it too will be available within the next few days (DO NOT buy the version available right now, its still the old one and is priced two dollars more than the new one will be).
Anyway, I hope you give the novel a look. For those who think I’m all about the Corrosive Knights series, you may be surprised to find I do write other stuff as well! 😉