Tag Archives: Haze

Haze, the 2015 version

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.

Concisely (adjective): expressing or covering much in few words; brief in form but comprehensive in scope

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! 😉

Haze eBook available for free on Amazon.com

The eBook of Haze, my very first novel, is available for free starting today and going through January the 25 on Amazon.com.  So, if you have a Kindle or read books via Kindle software on your mobile device, iPad, computer, etc., please take advantage of this offer:


Haze was my first attempt at writing a full novel and remains, to this day, my most personal work.  When I first conceived of the story back in the early to mid-1990’s, I was going through some peculiar personal issues.  I had graduated from College and was working at a hospital while trying to make a career in art/writing.  I was also starting to work for an Independent Comic Book publisher as an inker, but even in those early days when sales were high I had a suspicion the ride wouldn’t last.  Added to all that, I was also in the process of getting married and considering what I would ultimately make with my life.

And during that time, I caught a cold/flu that I just couldn’t get rid of.  Usually when I catch something, my illness will last three or four days, tops.  This one dragged on for a couple of weeks.  By the time I was approaching the end of the second week of being dreadfully ill, I finally decided to see a Doctor (I was really sharp back then!).  The Doctor heard what I was going through and promptly began a series of tests on me culminating in chest X-Rays.  The Doctor feared I had developed Pneumonia.

Luckily, I hadn’t, but my condition was serious enough to be prescribed a regimen of medicines which eventually took out that cold/flu. Throughout that time I slept very badly and was like a zombie during my waking hours.  Worse, my thoughts were increasingly discombobulated, to the point where I could barely concentrate on things at work or home.

One day after seeing the Doctor and while driving home from work, I spotted a bus on the side of the road.  It was out of order and its rear hatch was open.  In my weakened mental state, the open hatch and exposed oily machinery looked alien, quite literally like something from out of this world.  I was so struck by that image…so much so I feared I had just suffered a hallucination.  Upon reaching my house I had the beginnings of Haze brewing in my mind.  In those early days of coming up with the story, I envisioned someone not unlike me as the protagonist, young and at a crossroads in his life, exposed to visions from another world.  I wrote the first few pages, wherein my protagonist sees this alien bus-like device on the road and comes to the realization that through illness he’s been exposed to visions from other worlds.

But as good a start as that was, I quickly reached a dead end.  At least with the idea of a man peering into other dimensions.

Instead, I moved off into other story directions.  Rather than seeing other dimensions, I had my protagonist see visions of a famous dead actor.  And rather than a science fictional story, my novel became a murder mystery with supernatural elements.  Alas, the actual inspiration to the book, that sequence with the alien-looking bus, was ultimately cut as it didn’t fit in with the story I was now telling.

I learned quite a bit while writing Haze, both in terms of the mechanics of novel writing as well as the efforts involved in trying to create something you can be proud of.  The experience was alternately exhilarating and frustrating, and more than once tried my patience.  Still, I’m proud with the final product and am happily continuing the writing experiment I began all those years before.

I hope you enjoy the novel as well.