Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Writing a love story.

I've mentioned how many different things that A Pius Man happens to be. I've mentioned how I blow up public places. That there is philosophy, shootouts, history, explosions, theology, a car chase, RPGs (not role playing games), property damage, and … hmm, there's something else there.

Oh, yeah, a love story.

It's not that strange. After all, a love story seems almost obligatory nowadays. Usually, as a motivation for senseless violence after killing off half of the couple involved. Even if it's as simple as a boy and his dog … or a boy and his robotic killing machine in Terminator 2.

I mean, hell, what makes me qualified to do a romance subplot? I mean, hell, I'm weird, maybe you've noticed. Just from the various and sundry topics on the site, I'm all over the place. I've done comic books, politics, terrorism, writing, music, book reviews, and the list keeps going. The less said about theology, the better.

But a love story?

Here's the thing. I'm in love …

Yes, with a woman … Yes, she's human …

And non-fiction …

No, she's not “from Canada”...

Though she might as well be.

It's complicated.

I met this woman online, and she didn't come onto me in any way. She saw I was a fan of J. Michael Straczynski, when she asked to be friends on Myspace. This was back when Myspace was actually good for something ...

Yes, that long ago.

We exchanged emails. We found out that we have a lot in common. We make fun of the same people. We like the same authors. We have the same sense of humor....

Turn Coat (The Dresden Files, Book 11)On the same sense of humor: we each started talking about one book that had come out – a Jim Butcher novel called Turncoat. My family had gotten the book before her local library had, and she said, “No spoilers.”

At which point, my default setting was to tease her. “So I shouldn't tell you about the love interest being the traitor, and Y-female 'comforting' our hero afterwards …? …. Which of course is impossible for me to know, because I haven't I haven't been able to read the book at all, so I know nothing.”

Her response was “Ye gods, your second paragraph had me wanting to claw my eyes out before I got to your third! Mission accomplished; you got me good.”

I think I fell a little bit in love with her that day.

Though what prompted me to first say it was when she sent me a little bit of “flair” that said “Good morning, I see the assassins have failed.”

And I had sent her the exact same flair about the exact same time.

My reply was mostly in jest: “I am certain that we are compatibly dorky and violent. I must hit on you.... “

Her response: “Hit on me? This could get scary if we're ever on the same side of the continent at the same time. But don't let that stop you. :)”

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1
But that was as far at it went. The rest of that exchange had to deal with
the spoilers discussion from above. Every once in a while, we would mention “flirtation subtitles,” or hand signals (via email), without Skype. We would compare dating histories, then discuss Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Victor Hugo, and try to write Jim Butcher's next few books for him. We had similar jokes on sex scenes in novels – and even considered doing a similar twist on the cliché for a later novel: an idea we had developed independent of each other.

We challenge each other – I know she challenges me, and she claims the same, but she covers it so very well and so effortlessly, I wouldn't know unless she told me.

We then started shipping books back and forth for conferences she didn't get to, but I did, and vice versa. She got me into a webcomic she was following in hardcopy … then I read ahead of her by reading it online.

Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition)After two years of back and forth, we met in person at an aquarium. Nothing overdramatic, but it was pleasant. We talked of comic book characters, and sharks and Peter Benchley. When we tried footnoting the real life story Benchley stole Jaws from, we both knew it was 1916, in the New York area, but we disagreed on the shark type and the exact location. Then we found a plaque dedicated to Jaws, and discovered that I was right about the shark, she was right about the location.

Together, we can remember a whole story.

I suspect that with her, I can even pass for a whole and complete person.

Since we are on opposite ends of the universe, she has encouraged me to try dating -- if only as a trial run. She is the only woman for whom I would drag myself into the quagmire of the dating pool.

No, she is not the most beautiful woman in the universe – well, she is, but I can't say that, because she somewhat disagrees with me on the topic, and it's easier just to smile, nod, and talk about something else.

I think she's beautiful and wondrous. And she is truly the brightest star in my star ...

 Thankfully, I have a 50/50 chance of her reading this blog … so, shhh, don't tell her.

But not only is she beautiful, she's smart, and kind, and generous. She offers time she doesn't have, but by God, she will make it. I suspect if/when A Pius Man sells it will be because of her time and effort in edits. And maybe Matt's artwork.

No, it's not easy. I've hit her self-destruct buttons a few times without knowing it. In fact, once, I jabbed it repeatedly in the same few hours without realizing it. And I nearly triggered a nervous breakdown. By email alone.

We're working on our communication.

As I said, not easy. But if love were easy, I wouldn't trust it. I've had love come to me easily. Twice. Both times, it ended in the most spectacularly awful implosion.

So, it's not easy. But it's right.

That is pretty much what I hope to do in my novels...

What? You didn't think I was going to go on and on about a nameless woman just because I could, did you?

Notice how my relationship developed. Little details. Small things that add up into a very nice big picture. Our tiny jabs at Stephen King, the light teasing about Terry Prachett. Change the details if you like, but that's mostly how I like to think most romance stories should go.

Then again, if I wrote a romance novel, I suspect that my two leads would only get to an “I love you” by the end of the book. Possibly on the last page. Or when they're about to be killed.

In A Pius Man, I try to do the little things with Scott Murphy and Manana Shushurin. I have, essentially, three days of two highly-paranoid, suspicious-by-nature, spies, staying together. And, by the end of it, along the line they fall in love. It's a love that literally saves the world, possibly in the strangest ways imaginable.

But, heck, it worked for Terry Goodkind.

And, while Manana is stunning, and Scott is bland, and it works well because neither one of them care about appearances. They're spies, they know that appearances are the most deceiving thing in the universe. And their styles are so opposite to one another, they fit perfectly well.

And it's not easy. But it's right.

Assuming they survive the novel.

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