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Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Plight of the Caterpillar

Six legs. Ten prolegs.

The caterpillar climbs a stem, finds foliage at its tip. Green, tasty. He perches beneath it, filling his mouth, filling his stomach. The moon illuminates his striped body. The wind cools it. He eats until the leaf is whittled down to skeletal veins and the framework of a leaf remains. He finds another. The caterpillar eats all day, stilling only when a moonlit shadow passes or the flutter of wings warns danger is close.

At sunrise, the caterpillar crawls down into the litter, curls into the soil, Mother Earth's embrace. Safe from the sun. Away from predators. He sleeps until the sun sets, then returns to the branch to fill his belly again.

Life is good. It is full.

As the nights pass, he sheds his exoskeleton and swells larger. Still larger. Where once he was the size of a staple, he's now as thick as a pencil. The twigs bends against his weight. The tree has become a collection of foliar skeletons splayed like skinny fingers. And the caterpillar eats and sleeps. And life is good.

Until the suffering.

It's slight, at first. His skin begins to itch. His body fits more like shrink-wrap. Even the cool embrace of Mother Earth is painful, his nervous system sensitive. No matter how many bites, his stomach will not settle. He searches the ground for cooler soil, another branch for soothing leaves.

But life has betrayed him.

He wants to go back to the way it was, when there was just the branch, just the leaf. Just the sweet slumber in day's shade. This isn't fair. It isn't right. He has been forsaken.

All that is good is no more.

He endures days of struggle, no longer eating, no longer plump and vital. Shrunken and sluggish, his color is lifeless and dull. It's too difficult. Too hard. He can't go on, not anymore. Not like this.

He lacks the strength to find shelter, lacks the will to hide from things that fly and things that peck. And when wings flutter nearby, he looks up to see the soft scales of a majestic moth. The underwings are pink. The forewings are dark and soft. The moth remains still, the moonlight revealing the antennae plumes. And then it lifts away, wings patter like a kiss of wind.

If only, the caterpillar thinks. If only.

Foreverland is Dead (Coming in April!)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Evolution of a Vampire

I'm not a vampire fan.

I don't hate them, I'm just saying I don't love them. Why do I feel like I have to even explain myself? Honestly. They're not real.

But what if?

See, I had this minor epiphany at a local theatrical production of Dracula. IF there was such as thing as a hypnotic, immortal being that lived on human blood, would he continue the eternal savagery? Or would he evolve into something more sublime?

Along comes Drayton.

He doesn't remember being born. He's not sure what he is.

His memories of the early days are quite savage: tearing open throats, wolfing down hearts, that sort of thing. What vampires do. But now, not so much. He's young and unassuming. Cultured. His skin is black, not because of heritage; 8000 years in the sun will do that to a person.

Drayton still feels hunger, yet no longer feeds on blood but rather its essence. He no longer takes it but only accepts it as a gift. Sometimes he appears to people as a savior. Sometimes, as vengeance.

His understanding of the human condition is unparalleled. He's in complete control of his thoughts and emotions, sees with extrasensory perception, feels sensation at will. His body is undying. His mind, clear and uncluttered.

An immortal Zen master.

I wanted to uncork his endless power, really cut him loose, present him with an antagonist that really deserved a good disembowelment. You know, a real scumbag. Always with compassion, the bad guy gets it, just not the bullet-in-the-head kind of gets it. I suppose that's the character I imagined in that theatre.

Suppose I'll have to write some stories about the early years to get bloody.

For now, all five novellas are compiled into The Drayton Chronicles.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

All Grinched Up

The curse.

You find a good book, you're up all night. Get stuck with a bad one, you wonder why words were invented.

Writing books is a different curse.

The characters, they get inside your head. Their lives are fluid. Their actions  and motivations are limitless. It's like developing a 80,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, only you're cutting each piece individually, painting them one at a time.

There's an inner compass that guides me, something tells me when I'm onto something. A certain energy emanates. Think of the proverbial light bulb flicking on somewhere around the solar plexus. I start with characters, think about what they'll do and why. Develop a general idea of the ending. If it feels dry and empty, if it feels lifeless, I keep cutting. Keeping painting. Until--

SNAP. Yeah.

I got something.

This time it's The Grinch, a sequel to Claus: Legend of the Fat Man. Problem is, this isn't Santa Claus. The Grinch is trademarked. How grinchy.

That's all right. I can tell a grinchy story without The Grinch. I've got characters that are waking up, keeping me up at night, whispering what they want to do, telling me secrets, revealing their shortcomings. Like a good book, I gladly watch them dance in the theatre of the mind into wee hours. In the morning, I'll scratch out what I remember, regret the stuff I forget.

The journey is just beginning.