AND THE SKINNY WHITE BOYS ALL SAY I'M THE BEST ARTIST
Okay, so this didn't exactly come yesterday as planned. I had plans to go out dancing tonight with Joe Nozemack, but he asked if we could move it up a day and I suddenly found myself going out last night. I got about 80% through this missive before I had to leave.
I needed to get out, though. I've still been feeling a bit lost in the wilderness. From folks I've talked to, having this cold of mine for three or four weeks (I'm at three) is not abnormal. It's not that I've really been sick this past week, but the cough lingers just a bit, the scratch in the throat lingers just a bit, and you never quite feel like you've gotten out of it.
So, I danced some last night. Highlight of the evening was likely DJ Gregarious playing Justin Timberlake and Blur side by side. "Sexyback" into "Girls and Boys." After two whiskeys, however, I was getting my crowd tourettes, and was starting to mouth evil things to people who got in my way, and then slowly I got louder and louder, until I shouted at one dude who kept walking through the crowd with a rod up his ass, "Hey, you already passed me enough, motherfucker." I then realized the girl standing near me was looking at me in horror, thinking I was shouting at her, so I quickly said, "No, no! That guy! Not you!" I cut myself off after that.
The upside of being sick and trapped indoors is it has given more further incentive to stay indoors and be productive. In the last ten days, I've knocked out two manga scripts, finalized You Have Killed Me, and did the last rewrite on Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, fixing some very big problems with stunningly simple solutions before passing the manuscript on to Lynn Adair, my copy editor.
I have to admit, I'm really sort of surprised at where I am. This really puts the polish on the apple. I've had my trilogy of novels in my head since I was 19, and fifteen years later, I've tied them up in pretty much the way I always envisioned them. Horizon has probably morphed the most, but it was also the most amorphous, the book that was always going to require some waiting on my part before I could actually be in a life position to have the knowledge to do it.
And I think I pulled it off.
It's strange to be at this crossroads, though. For the first time since 1991, if you asked me what I was going to write next, at least as far as prose was concerned, I couldn't tell you. This really is the end of Mark I of my creative career, and Mark II hasn't yet begun to reveal itself to me, at least not in prose. Comics, I've got more cooking, but that has more to do with having found my perfect collaborator than it does me as of yet. Or maybe that's selling myself short, because collaboration does require two people. It's just that Joëlle is the one who seems to be nudging me in the direction we should go. I would have never believed I would be writing hardboiled crime, and our possible next project is also pretty much her doing. I said, "Hey, we should do such-and-such," as a joke, and she responded, "Oh, that would be great!" So, I'm developing it. She even had an impact on Horizon in many, many ways--most notably by introducing me to Milan Kundera, whose books were like a telegram to me, saying, "It's okay. What you think you want to do, you can." It's why she's ideal to do the book's cover.
Also strange to me, though, is just four months ago, when 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, I felt like I had peaked. Between it and The Everlasting was released, I felt like I had really done the best I could do. Now, I know every artist is supposed to say their newest work is the best yet, but we all know when maybe something isn't as hot. I definitely have a hierarchy in my bibliography, and there is the feeling that, at least for myself, I can never top how exactly I executed my designs with The Everlasting and 12 Reasons both.
Except part of me is starting to think maybe I have. You Have Killed Me may be better written than 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, even with how much mine and Joëlle's first collaboration felt like lightning in a bottle (she's certainly drawing better than she ever has before). Horizon may also usurp The Everlasting. I am kind of impressed with myself. Even though there are parts that still baffle me, that I still wonder if the need of the material is beyond my talents, I also am starting to think I may have exceeed what I thought was my grasp and pulled something else off entirely. (And certainly, Maryanne Snell deserves some major credit for her insightful suggestions about fixing my structure, and her fearless ability to tell me that the first 1/3 of the book wasn't written as well as the back 2/3. All of her suggestions were right on, and they made the book what it is. Also, thanks to Christopher McQuain, Ian Shaughnessy, and Mason West, who read the novel and when I told them what Maryanne suggested, were able to say, "Actually, yes." (Catherine McCullar and Jennifer de Guzman also offered earlier, separate feedback and inspiration. And maybe even perspiration.)) Only time will tell if Horizon is truly better than The Everlasting, and even if the new books are better, they still my not be may favorite, since that entails so much more of the experience as a qualifier, but I definitely feel all the more confident.
Right now, Horizon is going to be out again for San Diego, so sometime in July, and You Have Killed Me is tentatively scheduled in October, but since it came in about 50 pages over the original estimate (it's 181), it may take slightly longer.
Killed Me doesn't have a soundtrack to share with you. Like I Was Someone Dead, music didn't play that big of a role, and so there was no mix to make. Not so for Horizon. Even though I barred pop music from the book, only breaking the rule for a very specific use of Depeche Mode, I still needed mood music, and I filled two CDs with songs.
Have You Seen the Horizon Lately? writing playlist, disc 1
1. The Who - "They Are All In Love"
2. The Who - "Blue, Red, & Gray"
3. Suede - "He's Gone"
4. Geneva - "If You Have To Go"
5. Suede - "By The Sea"
6. Faye Wong - "Moon at that Moment"
7. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - "Man Out of Time"
"The Iris Suite"
8. Lush - "Light from a Dead Star"
9. Dot Allison - "Tomorrow Never Knows"
10. Keane - "Fly To Me"
11. Cast - "Walkaway"
12. Sinead O'Connor - "Sacrifice"
13. Beijing Angelic Choir - "Kitty, Stop Your Meowing"
14. James - "Protect Me"
15. Gene - "You"
16. Elvis Costello - "Broken"
17. Geneva - "Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?"
1. Costello & Nieve - "I Want to Vanish"
2. Depeche Mode - "A Pain That I'm Used To"
3. Fiona Apple - "Never is a Promise"
4. Costello & Nieve - "Why Can't a Man Stand Alone?"
5. Aztec Camera - "Do I Love You?"
6. The Divine Comedy - "Too Young to Die"
7. The Divine Comedy - "Tonight We Fly"
8. Oasis - "Stop Crying Your Heart Out"
9. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - "Poor Fractured Atlas"
10. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - "Julia's Song"
11. The Rubettes - "Julia"
12. Simon & Garfunkel - "Kathy's Song"
13. Morrissey - "At Last I Am Born"
14. Geneva - "Have You Seen the Horizon Lately? (Aloof Mix)"
Put these together if you want an advance taste of what the novel will be like. As you can see, even though Geneva started off the process, the soundtrack is pretty well owned by Elvis Costello. The Divine Comedy appearance also shows where my head was at with this post. Tracks 6 and 13 actually show up in the book, and track 3 is in the epigraph. I am surprised Depeche Mode's "A Question of Lust" never fell into the mix, since it is referenced more than once in the prose. We'll make it a B-side of the single. (Oh, God, if Geneva could reform and cover it...!)
Anyway, the production work for all these books will occupy me for a while, and in the meantime, I can start to see what forms in my brain as far as fiction is concerned. I know I could bang off another Lance Scott novel no problem, but I don't want to do it for the sake of doing it, I'd want there to be a story, and right now, the only one I have is The Short and Happy Death of Lance Scott, but that exists as this sort of notion that it will not only kill off him, but end my career, as well, and I'm not ready for that.
Or maybe I am. I have often joked that I can die when two things have happened: I completed the Romance Trilogy, and Sadie has shuffled off this mortal coil, freeing me from my indentured servitude. Now that one is done, we only have one to go. She has many years left, I am sure, but even so, if you're participating in a celebrity death pool, you might want to put my name in the mix. And keep an eye on that cat.
Current Soundtrack: Camera Obscura, "I Love My Jean" CDS and Let's Get Out of this Country (I am thinking both the album and the single "Lloyd, I'm Ready to be Heartbroken" should have scored higher on my year-end list, as this is the main music to carry over into 2007 so far)
Current Mood: kisses
All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich