Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What I'm working on 3: Hell Spawn

When Russell Newquist announced that his Silver Empire was going to rerelease my Love at First Bite series, he stated
In addition to this excellent series, we’ve also commissioned Mr. Finn to create an entirely new Urban Fantasy series. We’re not ready to share the details on this just yet, except that I can say a few things. The book is set in New York, the city that Mr. Finn knows so well. It does have some of the religious elements his fans love so much. And it will proudly feature the insane action that we’ve all come to expect from Mr. Finn.

Also, the one-paragraph pitch that Mr. Finn gave me is the best book pitch I’ve ever heard. And the outline for book one more than lives up to that pitch. And… book one is already half done.

Expect this new series to go live right after we finish republishing Love At First Bite.
I finished the project Russell is talking about in about six weeks. I did a little under ten thousand words a week.

Anyway, when Russell asked me for a new IP in UF, I didn't send him one pitch, I sent him four.
A) "Arresting Merlin"-- Taken from a short I did for Tales of Once and Future King.
Premise: A cop arrests a ten year old for trying to murder the mayor of New York City. The kid insists that the Mayor is one of the Fae, and he's the only one to stop him. because he's Merlin. When he sets two of the fae on fire with an explosive rune, the cop is inclined to agree with him.
 For the record, this is the short story that I pounded out about 36 hours to deadline, and sent it in at the last possible minute. It got accepted easily, and the editor didn't ask for any edits.
B) Magic Graduate school.
NYU's Emerys Graduate School for the Magically inclined is in a part of Manhattan that no one has ever seen... mostly because it exists behind a glamour wall that keeps the citizens from seeing it. They now have a new magical self defense professor... who doesn't have any magic. But he does have a certain set of skills. Skills that make him a nightmare to people like them. A magic wand is nice, but doesn't help if someone with a Glock blows the back of your head off.
I partially stole this concept from a friend of mine. I say partially because I went a completely different route with it in my head. It's become an RPG with friends of mine on the weekends, and becoming even further along from the original concept. So, yeah. 
C) Cop versus Demons.
Officer Thomas Nolan is a saint. He can smell evil. He's forgiving to the lesser criminals who are merely desperate, and even the criminals he put away tend to like him. But when a serial killer wages war on the city, he's going to face the darkness on more levels than he can imagine. Because this killer leaves a stench Nolan can follow a mile away: but proving it is going to be a problem: because how do you do forensics on a killer possessed by a demon?
(I figure the opening line is "My name is officer Thomas Nolan, and I am a saint.")
 This was actually a premise I first thought of during my undergraduate years in Christian spirituality and mysticism. Between levitation, flying, smelling evil, and bilocation, tell me these don't sound like superpowers for a comic book.
D) The Ri
A project I'm working on with Dawn. We're 23000 words in. A YA UF project with warring fae in the city. There is a male lead and a female lead, and there's already an outline. Book 1 is stopping a faction of the fae from becoming Mayor of New York City.
D I mentioned the other day.

At the end of the day, C won. Apparently, that was a really good pitch. Who knew? I literally just wrote the flap copy for the idea in my head at the time.

The next problem was, well, writing to spec. After dealing with my Tolkien-sized cast for The Pius Trilogy, I think that Russell really wanted me to cut down my character count, and had specific figures on how many characters he wanted. I thought the only proper answer would be to have Detective Nolan and the enemy .... then Nolan needed a partner. Then Nolan needed an ME.  Then a priest. Then his wife and son.  Then an ADA. Suddenly I had the Magnificent Seven.

That was easy.

And hardest of all: Russell wanted me to outline.

For those of you who are new here, I generally don't outline. I sit down, I start writing, and I don't stop until I need to eat or sleep. This tends to be a general strain on my ability to rest, but it keeps the words flowing. I work 9-5, if not 10-6. No outlines usually mean that I can throw in a gunfight whenever the I feel the plot slows down. 

But after a few days of dwelling on it, I had an outline. There were only two murders, but they utilized everything I knew of serial killers and everything I could put together on demonology.

Along the way, I may have made a mistake and ended up with a horror novel instead. Oops.

Once I started writing, the outline didn't quite survive first contact with the enemy. I felt the plot slow down at least once ... so I threw in a gunfight. In the outline, I had a random encounter at his precinct ... during the writing of the novel, I had a completely different random encounter (that I hadn't planned) that allowed me to tie everything together, and created a subplot that I hadn't known was there. And there's at least three chapters that went entirely the right direction by the wrong route. 

I finished this novel at just under 60,000 words in 6 weeks. I was slowed down by Christmas.

Right now, the most difficult part of the series has been a title -- either for the series or for the individual novel.

I'm told it should by out by September. Making it eligible for the Dragon Awards in best horror in the 2019 Dragon Awards. Heh.... Yeah. I really do want one of those awards. Not for the PR, or for the honor, necessarily, but damn those are shiny.

Anyway, expect it out in September. Ish. The second book is already outlined. I may have the second book out in October.

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