I wonder if I’m doing this right. I often thought of this as I wrote my first novel, wondering if my process was similar to other authors or if I was in an orbit of my own.
Jeremy Mac (no relation to Billy) is among the Facebook friends I quickly accumulated. He was one of the first who agreed to read my manuscript and offer a quote I could eventually take to prospective publishers. We hit it off from the start and frequently stay in touch via Messenger.
Requesting a published author to review a manuscript is a big ask. Most of them have other jobs in addition family obligations and their writing obsession. Jeremy didn’t hesitate, but he did ask if I would read his book Embracing the Darkness, and offer a review on Amazon. How could I say no?
Honestly though, I was skeptical when I saw the book’s cover because his genre is not among my favorites. Jeremy was so gracious with his time and generous in his praise of my work. What would I write if I didn’t like it, or thought it was just okay? These concerns fortunately never came to fruition because good writing is good writing, and in this case, it literally reminded me that you should never judge a book by its cover. Other than one scene that made me cringe, I genuinely enjoyed the story.
Jeremy’s most recent work Shadowmancer, is a riveting read. It’s intoxicating, creepy, and has a unique supernatural hook that I have never seen before. I think it is going to enjoy a lot of success.
Jeremy’s creative process is different from mine, which I think proves two things. The first is that each author’s approach is unique and is neither right nor wrong, but what suits them best.
The second is what I’ve always suspected. Authors are very interesting and colorful characters.
Thanks for sharing your story Jeremy.
“How did you come up with the idea for that story?”
Oh how I do love this question, even if I don’t have an answer for it, because when asked, often with glowing enthusiasm, that alone tells me that my story genuinely excited or wowed or horrified or turned on the inquisitive reader only in a way that mystifies the mind. For me, as a writer, no question (or hell, no amount of praise for that matter) is better.
However, I do not begin writing– a book, a novella, a short story, a poem– expecting for the work to be received that way, or simply thoroughly enjoyed, by others. No. Such thoughts don’t even exist until the work is somewhat of a half-ass clean draft.
I write, first and foremost, for myself. Because once an idea for a story pops into my head, it begins to tickle and entice, nearly to the point of seduction. It can be likened to a little writing minx stirring inside my head. Sometimes she whispers, “Come on. Breathe into me…” followed by a feathery touch of allurement. Other times, if I put her off long enough, she’ll stamp her foot and yell, “Hey! Get to it!”
So I begin to put down a few words, and then those words take shape, form colors, characters and atmosphere. It starts to play out like a movie on the theater screen of my mind and before I know it, a new world is created.
Words don’t always come easy, though. All too often they will stall or stop completely, as if the little minx stops the reel of film rolling inside my head.
“Oh you little bitch,” I’ll growl at her. “Bring me all this way just to slam me against a brick wall. Grrr!”
But I push and fight, chipping away at that hated wall, eventually clawing my way through it to the final finish.
And then edits begin.
An entirely whole other beast.
But, how did I really come up with the idea for that story?
Concerning my first two books, the answer is simple. Pleasure Spiked With Pain and Frozen Faces @ 4:20, both written years ago, are loosely based off of my younger, careless life, so the near facts were nothing to recall. And as far as the fictionalized areas went, which are in fact the greater portion of the books, well…a good amount of the words were inspired/influenced by a lifted head.
For those of you who are not in the know, I’ll not go in depth on cannabis’s potential to unlock doors of the imagination, unleashing fresh new worlds you never knew existed. Just be assured that cannabis does, or, at the very least, has the potential to do so. It’s an excellent antidote for that hated Writer’s Block as well. It’ll torpedo right through a brick wall.
As far as the rest of my work goes, which are all a good distance from the contemporary genre that my first two novels are under and were not written under the influence of cannabis thank you very much (Little sigh. Ok, maybe a teeny tiny bit here and there. Eye roll.), the answers are not so simple. Sometimes what sparks an idea may be something I saw on TV or a song I heard or something that happened throughout the day. An article I read. A conversation I had. A dream…
Oh the dreams. Such gifts that can be easily wasted if you do not possess the discipline to write them down the moment you wake, when the dream is fresh and still nearly pulsing with life, because, woe you make the mistake of putting it off or, even worse, going back to sleep. I’ve regrettably done both and found time after disappointing time that the dream fades to the point of a hazy memory, only to recall later, if you’re lucky, a slight idea of what it had been about. For several years now I’ve slept with pen and paper at my bedside. No matter what time it is, no matter how tired I am, when I wake from a dream alight with potential for a cool story, or perhaps just a scene within a story, I’ll snatch up that pen and paper and will not stop writing until I have even the most insignificantly minute detail jotted down.
And then there are the ideas that have always been there, those that have dwelled within, or even haunted me, ever since I can remember, their origins long forgotten but, over time, ever evolving until finally it comes to a point when I must pen them to life.
Embracing The Darkness, an erotic hardcore horror released last December, was such a story, lurking inside, haunting, likely due to my growing up watching all the great 80’s horror flicks. I love horror, especially the hardcore fare, but I’d always been very reluctant to write it, and quite honestly it is due to the fact of how hardcore I thought I might get , and that frightened me. It may seem ridiculous, but what really gave me pause was fearing what people might think. Like, “Oh this guy is a real fucking sicko.” But after much encouragement from others, I gave it a go. Turns out, it’s one of the best things I’ve done. It was quickly snatched up by a publisher and has gotten rave reviews. Not to mention I’ve been asked numerous times, “How did you come up with the idea for that story?”
But my newest work probably tops them all.
Shadowmancer is a supernatural erotica about someone whose shadow is an entity of itself, an entity that thrives off of the sexual energy of others. My readers know just how erotic I can be, but this one licks the icing clean off the cake.
The idea was born from the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula, starring Gary Oldman. I was about fifteen years old when I first saw the movie but I’ve watched it a few more times over the years. There’s a scene when Dracula enters a candlelit room, and his shadow continues to stretch across the wall, reaching for an unsuspecting Keanu Reeves. This eerie image, both horrifying and erotic, branded itself in my mind. Ever since then I’ve quietly played with the idea of such a shadow, one that not only acts as a direct extension of its host, but sentient as well. I let that supernatural fantasy incubate up until a few years ago and then– no doubt spurred by my little minx– I decided to try to breathe some life into it. So far, according to my ARC (Author Review Copy/Approved Readers Copy) readers, Shadowmancer is being well received. A good number of them have already asked me that one question I love so much, and some of them haven’t even finished reading it!
All because of the seed of an idea that was planted so long ago, before I had even begun to entertain the thought of being a writer. Before I understood the creative power of an idea.
Ideas, for me, are created from dreams, through observation, losing myself to the wonder of my surroundings, observing what is there and breaking it down and piecing things back together to suit myself, my imagining.
And, of course, to appease my little minx.
I cannot close without first saying that this is a great blog! Great writing! I am a fan of it, and I am honored that Steve asked me to be a part of it. Thanks buddy!