THE NEXT BIG THING (Somewhither)

John Moeller has tagged me for the THE NEXT BIG THING, which is basically writers indulging in self-promotion crossed with a chain letter. For this edition, I will discuss a book still in the writing stage, which has not yet been sold to an editor.

What is the working title of your book?


Where did the idea for the book come from?

It came from a collision of three or four ideas.

First, it came from a jest. As a flippant remark, and in an excess of awesomesauce high-pulp imagination, I joked I would write about a prayer-powered mecha which was protected by ninja-nuns or something of the sort. Well, the ideas I had tossed off as a joke grew on me, and so I decided to write up an opening scene, about a mad scientists’ beautiful daughter being abducted. The tale grew in the telling.

But, second, I had also been toying with the idea of writing an Anti-Dan Brown novel, one where the Roman Catholic Church, through the Knights Templar, had indeed been engaged in a two-millennium-old secret war against Harvard Symbolists and other servants of Satan to save the world from vampires and werewolves and mummies and giants and astrologers. I envisioned the Church as secretly funding and organizing the Knights Templar like the special ops vampire hunters in VAN HELSING starring Kate Beckinsale.

The two ideas came together when I struck on the happy thought of having the millennium-old secret known to the Church, but not to the world, to be the existence of parallel timelines, where biblical history had gone differently.

By “Biblical history” I mean that the secret history of the world is what is written in the Bible, and in the parallel timelines history went differently: the giants come from a world where the Flood of Noah never happened, so they were not wiped out; vampires come from a world where Christ was never crucified; evil astrologers rule a world where the Tower of Babel was never smitten with the confusion of tongues; mummies rule the world where Moses never freed the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage; werewolves rule a world where Nebuchadnezzar never repented of his lycanthropy, but instead spread the affliction; immortals come from a world where Fallen Eve stole the fruit from the tree of life; and so on.

I also wanted to write a novel where the witchcraft is bad for a change. Compare the way witchcraft is treated in the characters, for example, of Willow Rosenberg from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and Serafina Pekkala from THE GOLDEN COMPASS and the Halliwell Sisters from CHARMED on the one hand versus the way witchcraft is treated in Samantha Stevens from BEWITCHED and Gillian Holroyd from BELL BOOK AND CANDLE and  Eglantine Price from BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS on the other…  Ditto for vampires and werewolves. I wanted to write a book where the monsters were, you now, bad. And one where the Christians were good. This is not because I am bigoted against monsters or particularly fond of Christians (all the ones I know are sinners), but just because I am weary of the stereotypes.

What genre does this fall under?

I have no idea.

A Biblical literalist would take it to be alternate history. It has enough real science in it, including high particle physics, multiple world theory, linguistics, and genetics, to be classed as science fiction, but there is clearly magic both white and black in the book, as well as inter-dimensional portals.

My main character is a Templar-trained deathless teen with a samurai sword with the power of regeneration, sort of a cross between a ‘Highlander’ and an X-Man. His love interest is a busty mermaid siren sorceress with a bad temper and a talking falcon too old for him (the siren, not the falcon). Their sidekicks include a Babylonian girl in a mask who can speak all languages, an irate prophet who can levitate, a Norse Boy Scout who can turn invisible, and a headless man-eater from Kush, who happens to be an inter-dimensional train station engineer. Their foes consist of all the freaks and abominations described by Pliny and Strabo as living in the antipodes.

I would say the book is in the genre of ‘New Weird’ except that I do not know what the genre contains, or what the name means.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?

I cannot think of an actor young, muscular and homely enough to play Ilya, my buck-toothed hero. Picture Richard Kiel when he was sixteen. Verity Anthrope should be played by Kim Novak or Joi Lansing. I don’t know the names of any twelve-year old Persian child stars who could play Pagutu, my Babylonian spy-girl. I don’t keep up with Persian cinema. The prophet Ossifrage should be played by Chuck Heston. “Nack” the headless giant should be played by the same special effect that played Tars Tarkas in Disney’s faithless adaptation of A PRINCESS OF MARS. The weary Dark Lord Enmeduranki should be played by Christopher Lee. And if you don’t recognize these actors and actresses, keep in mind my favorite movies date from about the same year you were born.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of the book?

“After my boss, Professor Anthrope, Harvard Symbologist, escaped from the insane asylum, he send me a secret message revealing that his beautiful daughter, Verity, had broken into the basement of the Haunted Museum and found the Moebius Coil he had constructed there from plans transmitted to Earth from across the Sea of Uncreation during the CERN disaster, and he begged me to find her and stop her, before the Dark Tower of the Ur race cast its twilight shadow across our helpless globe; and so, borrowing my father the Templar exorcist’s switchblade crucifix relict and my grandfather’s antique Japanese sword, not to mention my squirrel gun, I rushed in to save the girl but managed to get myself yanked headfirst into this interdimensional bathtub drain; and then things started getting weird…”

That is almost one sentence.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is in the hands of my publisher right now, but they are waiting until I complete my current trilogy to look at it, so I do not know its fate.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About eight months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Uh …. Which genre were we talking about again? Christian parallel time-travel ninja mutant detective adventure farce? I would say DRAGON BALL Z. There are a lot of fight scenes in this novel. A lot.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My ambition to see how over-the-top I could be with pulp-hero style antics involving immortals, vampires, werewolves, and the Tower of Babel. As I said above, I was disgusted with Dan Brown Pope-bashing bull-poop and amused to find a work where I would unleash a fifty-story tall suit of walking armor powered by sacramental energy.

What else about your book might pique the interest of readers?

My goal was to have one violent fight, one disaster, or one eruption of bizarre magic, once each fifteen pages or so, and I felt free to cram in every monster, villain, horror, superpower, and sheer weirdness I could. This is not one of those books where the protagonists just sit around and talk.