Posts Tagged ‘The Cronian Incident’

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, but Rose has a lot of flashback sequences and other dips into the past within the story, especially in the last two-thirds. I did this for a number of reasons: exploring the characters’s pasts; making them more complex; and just an opportunity to write some sequences to add to the horror element of the story. And there are a lot of horrifying things in those sequences, things that I can’t go into without revealing too many plot details, but they did make my beta readers gasp and stare at the page wide-eyed. They were horrifying moments in the story.

Not to mention, I think that flashbacks can be scary if done right. A good example of this is Gerald’s Game by Stephen King: while the protagonist’s current situation is scary enough, going into her past midway through the story and seeing how her father abused her as a kid was horrifying in its own right. Another good example would be the movie Oculus: that film flashes between the present and the past throughout its runtime, and it’s freaky no matter what year it is (see my Rewatch Review of that film).

Well, it looks like I didn’t do the flashbacks right for Rose. In the notes on the fourth draft from my publisher, they mentioned that all those flashbacks are just bad stuff happening to those characters, and while that stuff is horrifying, it’s not scary. I’ve had a lot of back and forth with them on this, and after a lot of thought, I can see where they’re coming from. After all, while in the real world “horrifying” can be a synonym for “scary,” especially in relation to current events, in fiction that’s not necessarily the case. Think about it this way: Harry Potter is horribly mistreated by his relatives, and what he goes through is horrifying. But if you ask any normal Potterhead what person or creature from the books they would be scared to face, the Dursleys wouldn’t rate very high on that list. The dementors, Voldemort and his Death Eaters, or the basilisk, sure. But the Dursleys? Considering most Potterheads are Muggle in biology and can’t perform magic, anyone who had to face them would probably be invited into Privet Drive and served tea and cookies in front of the TV!

So while showing how many terrible things happened in the characters’ pasts may be horrifying, it might not be scary. And considering how much experience my publisher has and how well-received their books are (have you checked out The Cronian Incident by Matthew Williams yet?), I’m taking this piece of feedback to heart.

I won’t lie, though, I’m a little disappointed, and I’ve been wondering where I went wrong. Or maybe to phrase it better, I’m wondering how I might have done the flashbacks better.

Well, in the case of Gerald’s Game, whose flashback is most similar to mine, they only do one big flashback sequence, not several. That way, it doesn’t become a repetitive cliche or trick. That, and its connection with the current events of the story: the protagonist’s abuse by her father is very much connected to her current predicament, on psychological and symbolic levels as well as literal levels. And with Oculus, the horror behind the story–a cursed/haunted mirror–is scary no matter when it happens. Spinning a tale of two siblings who experience the mirror both as children and adults, and then going back and forth between those two experiences, makes for some great psychological/supernatural horror.

And maybe that’s the thing: connection. In both those examples, the flashbacks, no matter how they’re staged, have very strong connections to what’s happening in the story’s present. Of the ones in Rose, while they do have connections to the characters’ pasts, only one of them has a direct correlation to the current events of the story. And that one’s told to us by the antagonist rather than shown in flashback. And that’s why the flashbacks in this story didn’t work as well as they could have.

So what’s next? Since so much of the novel is in flashback, I may have to do a whole lot more revising. Hell, I may even have to rewrite a good chunk of the novel. Which isn’t something I’m unfamiliar with: as many of you may recall, I had to go back and start over on the first draft back in college because the first attempt went in a direction that didn’t help the story.

Still, it’s a little annoying, and I haven’t figured out exactly what I’m going to do for these changes (though I have ideas). Hopefully, whatever I come up with, it’ll come out for the novel’s betterment, and bring it one step closer to publication.

Fingers crossed.

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Last week I had a dream that started pleasantly and ended up being kind of nightmarish: it involved me and a friend of mine from high school navigating an area with lots of rivers and creeks on surfboards. We were looking for a mythical golden treasure trove that many had searched for and failed. We’d heard the treasure we were looking for was cursed, but we went searching for it anyway, because nothing bad has ever come from seeking and finding cursed objects. Somehow we found the treasure where so many others had failed, split it up between us, and go home. However, soon after that, weird stuff starts happening: things move on their own, the faces on the coins change shape, and that’s just the start of our problems. Well before it gets really bad though, my friend and I realize that we have to return the treasure to where we found it.

At some point, someone in the dream says I could write a story about what’s happened to us. To which I replied, “Someone already did. It’s called Pirates of the Caribbean.”

After we agree to take the treasure back, I woke up. It didn’t take me long to figure out the main message of the dream (besides the fact that I can point out when my situation resembles a famous film in my dreams). You see, the night before I’d taken a swipe at starting the fifth draft of Rose, based on my publisher Castrum’s comments and suggestions. I got about a page in, and I hit a metaphorical roadblock. I couldn’t figure out how to advance. So I ended up going to bed not sure how to move further in editing this novel while at the same time integrating my publisher’s suggestions (many of which I agree with and think could elevate the quality of the novel).

That dream was my subconscious giving me a rather creative presentation of my doubts and anxieties regarding the editing and publishing process for Rose: that signing with a publisher was a really bad idea, that there’s nothing I’ll be able to do to make this novel publishable, that even if I somehow get it released, it’ll suck and anybody who reads it will leave bad reviews. A dark side to achieving my dream and finding a publisher, represented expertly by cursed gold.*

And then on Saturday, I tried again. And it went extremely well. I got thirteen out of sixteen pages in that chapter done. Yesterday, I got the last three pages done, plus all eleven of the next chapter (and while taking in a double feature on the Blu-Ray Player in the afternoon). And then today, I got another chapter done within a couple of hours. That’s an average of a chapter a day! Take that, conscious and subconscious fears involving working with a publishing process.

Obviously, these are still early stages of the fifth draft, and I’m going to encounter moments where I’m not sure what to write or how to integrate a suggestion from the publisher. Luckily though, my publisher has been great about answering any questions I have (thank God they don’t see me as a pushy American) and offering feedback to my ideas on how to integrate their suggestions. And with these last three chapters, I’ve been able to move forward mostly on my own. And with time, I’m sure I can get through the rest without trouble, and well before May 16th. I just have to keep being creative and persevere.

Obviously, doubts about what I’m doing and where I’m going will plague me throughout my writing career from here on out. I’ve passed a new turning point in my career, and it’s a whole new playing field from here on out. But the next time I feel those worries start to get to me, I’ll remember the dream about the cursed gold, and the productive weekend that followed. And I’ll just keep editing through my doubts.

And while I still have your attention, I’d like to give a shout out to my good friend and fellow novelist at Castrum, Matt Williams. He just finished writing his novel The Jovian Incident, Book Two of the Formist series, and will hopefully have it out later this year. I can’t wait to read it, as I really enjoyed the first book, The Cronian Incident, which currently holds a 4.7 out of 5 on Amazon based on 12 reviews. If you would like to read some hard-boiled detective fiction in a futuristic universe, this series may be the one you’re looking for. Check it out and leave Matt a review while you’re at it.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares (hopefully none that resemble popular contemporary movies, though).

*Still not sure why I was using a surfboard to navigate rivers and creeks (obviously a reference to the various paths we authors take to finding a publisher), as well as why that particular friend was with me (I love the guy and it always seems like no time has passed at all when we see each other, but he’s not a fiction writer, so I can’t think of why he would be in the dream).

I’m really not sure where to start with this one. I mean, how do you tell people about the realization of your childhood dream in one blog post, let alone be coherent? I feel like going in fifty different directions with this post, that’s how excited I am!

Well, I guess I’ll start at the beginning. Or what I think makes a good beginning, anyway: back in March of last year, my friend and fellow novelist Matt Williams (check out his blog HERE) announced that his novel, The Cronian Incident (which I recommend if you’re into science fiction and detective stories, by the way)  had been accepted for publication by Castrum Press, a company based out of Belfast in North Ireland which, in the year since Matt’s been accepted, has gained a bit of a reputation for publishing great speculative fiction and treating its authors very well. Later that year I did an interview with Matt and then received an eARC copy of Incident from Castrum to read and review. After hearing how Matt liked the company and seeing how well his book was doing, I asked if he’d make an introduction for me to the company’s editor. He said yes.

I talked with Castrum’s owner, Paul, and he asked to see some of Rose. This was after the third draft had been finished, if I remember correctly. I sent him the first ten pages, letting him know I planned to do one more draft after the beta readers were done with the manuscript. He sent back some notes and asked to see more of the book when it was done. One draft later, I sent him the fourth draft of Rose, hoping against hope that they’d like it enough to publish it.

Cut to last Friday, and I receive an email when I get home from work. It was Castrum: they wanted to discuss publishing Rose. After jumping up and down like a kangaroo and screaming high enough to break glass, I replied saying I’d be happy to work with them. Paul sent a contract yesterday, and after having some of my questions answered, I signed the contract and sent it back to him this afternoon, with the realization that my dream has been accomplished. A novel of mine is getting published by a company.

To which there’s only one thing to say:

By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with Rose, this is a novel I first wrote as my college thesis during senior year. It follows a young, amnesiac woman who starts turning into a plant woman. And that’s just the events of Chapter One. And trust me, it’s a full-on horror novel from there, complete with psychological and supernatural terrors galore. I tried editing it again in 2016 and couldn’t make it work, tried again in 2017, and after that things kind of just snowballed from there. And now it’s getting published.

Obviously, I’m feeling a number of emotions right now. Excitement about the publication process and seeing Rose out in print, nervousness about how it will be received by the book-reading public, satisfaction that this dream has been achieved, hope for the future, and a feeling of goodwill about things to come. Especially that last one. Since at some point during the third draft of Rose, I had a feeling that things were about to change, that something big was about to start. And since the New Year, I’ve had this very strong feeling that not only was 2018 going to go slower than 2017 did, but that 2018 was going to be my year. And so far, it seems I was right on both counts. And I hope I can continue to be right on both counts.

Rose will appear in this medium very soon.

There’s so many people to thank for this wonderful event. Firstly, my friend Matt Williams for connecting me to the company, my beta readers Joleene Naylor and Dr. Black (my chiropractor, believe it or not), as well as Paul Camper, Maura Heaphy, and Manny Martinez for looking at the book back in college, and of course to Castrum for taking a chance on this indie author from Ohio. But most of all, I’d like to thank you, my Followers of Fear. For nearly seven years, you’ve stood by me and supported me through my various writing endeavors, my college experience, finding and getting a job, my ups and my downs, and so much more. You’ve all supported me and helped me get this far, and I can’t thank you enough for that. I hope you continue to support me (and maybe even read Rose when it comes out) as I continue down this road and try to make sure Rose is a huge success.

So what happens next? Well, I’ll work with Castrum to produce a fifth and hopefully final draft of the novel. We’ll get to talking about cover art and at some point we’ll set a release date (I’m hoping before Halloween, but we’ll see). And of course, I’ll make sure to let you know of any major developments.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, I wish you pleasant nightmares (I’ll, of course, be having nothing but pleasant dreams)!

Today, we have a new interview that I’m very excited to share with you, because it features someone very special. Matthew Williams is one of the oldest friends I have in the blogosphere (by length of relationship, not age), as well as something of an inspiration and mentor for me. A science-fiction writer out of British Columbia, Canada, he’s created quite a few stories over the years, as well as written a number of science articles for Universe Today.

And today, I’m bringing him onto this show to discuss a very special book, The Cronian Incident, being published by Castrum Press next month. Let’s get this party started!

Rami Ungar: Welcome to the show, Matt. Tell us a little about yourself, both as a person and a writer.

Matthew Williams: My name is Matt Williams. I was born in Ottawa, moved to the West Coast in 2006, and have lived on Vancouver Island with my wife and family ever since. I studied history and the social sciences in University and was a high school and elementary teacher for about ten years. I quit teaching in 2015 to pursue writing full-time and am now a regular contributor to Universe Today and the Curator of their Guide to Space section. In my spare time, I write science fiction that’s focused on hard science and the human condition.

RU: Why does science and science fiction appeal to you so much?

MW: A good question. On the one hand, I spent my formative years watching some of the best science fiction movies and series’ of all time – Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, etc. I was always drawn to SF because as a child, I was always a daydreamer, the kind of kid who would rather be thinking about fictitious universes than paying attention in class! As I grew older, I began to contemplate creating my own SF, the kinds of things I knew fans like me would enjoy.

I was also drawn to science from a very young age. In addition to having a starter chemistry set, I loved circuit boards and broken electronics, which I would take apart and play with for hours on end. As Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” To me, these things were magic! That fascination has not diminished by time. The more I’ve come to know about science, technology, and the complex relationship we humans have with them, the more fascinated I have become.

RU: Tell us about your new book, The Cronian Incident, and how you came up with it.

MW: The Cronian Incident takes place in the late 23rd century, where humanity has colonized the Solar System. On every planet, moon, asteroid, and in rotating cylinders at the Sun’s Lagrange Points, human settlements have been established. Whereas people in the Inner Solar System (known as Extros) live lives characterized by post-scarcity, clinical immortality, and endless augmentation, people in the Outer Solar System (Retros) live a simpler life. For generations, this situation has been the norm. But as the story begins, we find that some people have plans which could threaten to upset the delicate balance.

The inspiration came largely from my professional writing. For years, I have been doing articles about the planets of the Solar System for Universe Today. After finishing an article about the planet Mercury, I began talking to a friend about how humans could live there someday. Before long, I felt the seed of an idea being planted in my mind! I then went about planning a story that would realistically address how humans would go about living on all the planets of the Solar System.

For years, I had also been contemplating the idea of how changes here on Earth would drive human colonization of space. I eventually came up with an idea for a Solar System that was divided between people who embraced the development of AI, nanotechnology and biotechnology (and all the revolutionary changes that will follow) and those who chose to stick to a more traditional way of life.

Not long ago, I decided to marry these two sources of inspiration together. And from that, The Cronian Incident was born!

RU: What sort of research and work went into writing the book?

MW: The research was actually pretty incidental. For years, I’ve been studying climate change, technological change, and all the predictions that are constantly being made about the future. And my day job, as a writer for Universe Today, involved a tremendous amount of research into space exploration, planetary science, physics and astronomy. It wasn’t long before the things I was researching and writing about started to give me ideas! After a while, I came up with one I was particularly fond of and began committing it to paper.

RU: How do you approach writing sci-fi? Is there a particular sub-genre or style you prefer?

MW: My preference is towards speculative and hard science fiction. As long as I can remember, I was fascinated by those stories that made predictions about the future that were based on hard science. Granted, most of these predictions do not come true. But it’s the very act of predicting where we are going based on what we are currently experiencing that makes it all worthwhile.

RU: Do you see yourself writing further stories in the universe of The Cronian Incident?

MW: Indeed! In fact, I am currently working on the sequel and the publisher and I hope to have it ready for release in a few months. The book was never meant to be a standalone, and I plan to take this fictional universe (known as the Formist Series) as far as I possibly can.

RU: You used to be exclusively a self-published author, but now you’re working with a publishing house. What made you decide to become what is known as a hybrid author?

MW: In truth, I always wanted to follow the traditional publishing route. However, I had decided that rather than wait to be discovered, I would promote myself. And the interesting thing was that it was precisely the strategies that I was pursuing as an independent that landed me an offer from a publishing house.

In today’s world, a writer needs to promote their writing and their ideas using social media and all other digital means at their disposal. And publishers – the good ones at least! – make sure to peruse these sites in order to find aspiring writers they think have promise.

RU: What’s on the horizon for you at this point?

MW: Well, there’s the work I’m putting in on The Cronian Incident’s sequel. That will certainly eat up plenty of my time for now! And once the two books are out, I hope to attend book signings, science fiction cons, and other events. Basically, I would like to connect with the readers and see what they have to say about the Formist Series.

Beyond that, I hope to expand the Formist Series further. And of course, I have many other ideas I want to work on and eventually bring to light, ranging from near-future stories to a few space opera ideas. And of course, there’s my day job and writing about space news. That’s something I hope to do for many years to come!

RU: If you had to give advice to any writer, regardless of experience or background, what would you tell them?

If ever I find myself in the position to give advice, I like to share the five main lessons I have learned over the years. Many of these were passed on to me by other writers of note, or just people I have come to respect a great deal. And some is stuff I learned on my own

  1. Do what you love, the money will follow – It sounds cliché, but if you love what you’re doing, it won’t feel like work. And in the end, all the hard work and sacrifice you put in are sure to pay off!
  2. In the meantime, keep your day-job – Whatever you’ve been doing to pay the bills, keep doing it until you know for a fact that you can commit to your writing full-time.
  3. Don’t wait to be discovered – You don’t need to limit yourself to shopping out manuscripts to publishers and waiting six months just to hear back. Utilize new media – blog, tweet, post, share, link, reblog, and share – to let the world know you are a writer and what you have to offer.
  4. Find your voice – When committing to writing, make sure you do your homework first and find out who (if anyone) has written something similar. Also, it pays to know the difference between different subgenres and styles of writing, so you can find the one that works best for you.
  5. Be patient – as my father would tell me, “It takes 20 years to become an overnight success”. No matter what you are doing, it will take time for it to get off the ground. Don’t expect instant results or even to succeed on the first try.

RU: Finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for a while and could only take three books with you, which would you take?

MW: Ouch, tough one! But I guess I would have to choose 1984, Neuromancer, The Diamond Age, Accelerando and Finnegan’s Wake. The first four are masterpieces of science fiction that had a profound influence on me. While the last book is not a science fiction novel, it is a classic of western literature. And I think that if I were trapped on a desert island, I might just have the time and mental energy to figure it out!

RU: That actually sounds more like five, but I’ll let it pass this time. Thanks for being on the show, Matt! I hope the book does well.

If you would like to check out The Cronian Incident, due out September 15th, you can pre-order it from Amazon. And if you would like to know more about Matthew Williams, you can check him out on his blog, Stories by Williams, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. He’s a great guy, so give his stuff a look.

And if you are an author and would like to be interviewed, check out my Interviews page and we’ll make some magic happen.

That’s all for now. Until next time, my Followers of Fear!