Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Listen to the World Around Me.

A few weeks ago I was wandering with my girlfriend through the ancient ruins that constitute Hadrian's Villa in Rome.  The sights captivated, but as wonderful as the statues and massive buildings were, what really drew my attention was the trilling, sawing, LOUD tonalities pouring down from the tops of the trees.

The cicadas.

They were everywhere, in abundance.  They amazed, they enthralled... They inspired.

Though I'd had an idea for a novel which dealt with Percy Bysshe Shelley's most prized possession, I've known for a while more research was necessary for me to fully grasp what I wanted to do with that one or, if not more research, something, perhaps a sense of trust in the words I was putting down, and the characters.  I need to do this one, but sometimes there is a time when things must percolate longer to make the brew richer.

So, I listened to the cicadas' song and something started to take shape.  Something full of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, and cicadas, placed out above the volcanic lake of Nemi, outside of Rome.  I initially thought it straightforward, something of fun to do before leaping back into more serious stuff, though it is quite serious in its own way.  But then the world throws you gifts and something that seemed a fun idea that might end up a novelette or even novella, gets those special gifts: an agent I am working with had mentioned how in a lot of my short fiction the lead characters seem similar--this was after sending her a batch of stories in which this might be true; a second batch shook up some of her perceptions.  Having as yet not defined the main character in the cicadas piece, she—the character--chose to be female, which opened many doors to different perceptions.  I was officially off to the races.

Then, at about the same time as I did this, I checked up on cicadas for a piece o' info...and the revelations within my research bent this simple little horror story into something of weird, unexpected depth.  When this happened, I knew it was my brain doing that thing it does.

You see, I am not a fan of surface level horror.  I guess even when wanting to trek into that terrain, my brain won't allow easy resolutions.  What I have in the works now threatens to be a novel--we'll see, a short one, perhaps, but one nonetheless--and what it ultimately deals with has less to do with those damned cicadas, and more to do with...

Whoa!  Stop right there, John Claude.  Let's not give away all our secrets.

Let's just say, I listen to the world around me, which means I take in all possibilities.  When the possibilities veer into such surprising places, well, the rewards for myself and hopefully the reader are tenfold.  And the words are pouring out of me.

Now, if you don't mind, let me get back to the noisy buggers, 'kay?!