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So ... what should I write about next?

February 20, 2015
Posted at 1:35 am

Let me say up front that that is a rhetorical question. :)

With An Unwanted Alias winding down toward its conclusion, it's a good time to speculate about what might come next. I mentioned before that a Lightning in a Bottle sequel was a definite possibility. I've given some thought to that, and I have to say that right now, I have very little motivation to go down that path.

Here's the problem. A LiaB follow-up would be set more or less in the present time. It would feature a band consisting mostly of the children of the characters in the original story. What kind of music would they play? I'm not that in touch with popular music of the present. They would certainly play a lot of original material, which gets around that problem somewhat. You might also figure that their parents would be an influence, and they would have a bit of a throwback style.

The biggest problem, however, is something more general in nature. I would be writing about very young adults in the present time. Writing about twenty-one-year-olds in the 1980's? Bring it on. But I'm not sure I could convincingly portray contemporary people in that age group.

It's far more likely at some point that I'll throw out a much shorter story or two, starring a select few of the supporting cast of LiaB. The first person POV aspect of LiaB limited me to describing the other characters and relationships strictly through Pat's observations. But let's say I was to create another story from the point of view of, say, Patti, or Derek and Annie, or even Seamus/Lisette. All of those characters have interesting stories to tell, stories I wasn't able to relate in any detail because of the limitations of first person.

So, I think I'll put the idea of a "LiaB sequel" on the shelf, with little chance of my ever dusting it off. Sequels are almost never as good as the original, anyhow. Then there's the fact that not a single reader has written to me and asked, "What's up with the LiaB sequel?" That tells me that the demand for a sequel is just not there.

Which brings me to the forgotten story on my homepage: Song of Adelita. As soon as "Alias" is wrapped up, my plans are to pick up SOA and bring it to its conclusion.

SOA has been largely ignored, and I have a couple of theories why this is so. First of all, an incomplete 25-chapter story suddenly appeared under my name, seemingly out of nowhere. (Most of it was written more than a decade ago, under another pen name.) When it comes to stories of that length, posting chapter by chapter is much more effective at drawing in the reader. Secondly, and more importantly, I believe many of you are scared off by the "cheat" code - as well you should be. (There, I said it.) I originally abandoned the story for that very reason - I wasn't comfortable with the subject matter. If you find infidelity in fiction unpalatable, you should probably skip this story.

So, why continue it, then? The most recently posted chapter was written not too long ago. I wrote it on a whim, and found that the words spilled forth quite easily. I feel as though I've really gotten inside the characters' heads, and somehow, I've recaptured the desire to move on with the story.

SOA is not a "cheat story", per se. It does not glorify or eroticize infidelity, although it may appear to at the start. It's an analysis of human weaknesses. I'll even go so far as to say that in the long run, it's an anti-cheat story. The protagonist is a sex addict with a secret life that, quite frankly, borders on unfathomable. The thing is, he fully realizes that his actions are despicable, but is powerless to stop himself, as befits a serial adulterer. His wife is an intelligent, professional woman who nonetheless is passive, non-confrontational, and too trusting - she'd have to be all of those things for her husband to get away with what he does. In my opinion, the supporting characters (a few of whom made cameos in Lightning in a Bottle) are the best part of the tale. They are all flawed yet compelling characters with their own demons.

Okay, am I guilty of shameless self-promotion? Probably. :)

There's another story idea that's been bouncing around in my head for quite a while, and in fact, I have the first chapter already written. It has sci-fi, post-apoc, and time travel elements. The plot is very complex, and reining it in might prove to be a challenge. I'll need to do quite a bit of research, especially in the areas of virology and genetics. At any rate, it will be several months (at least) before I get around to working on this one.

So, in summary ... I want to finish up Alias, hopefully by the end of March. (No promises, though.) After that, I'll pick up SOA, and stick with it until it's done.