One week in the books now, experiencing a lot of ebbs and flows both in the number of visitors and the creative process. I spent much of today manning the dreaded self-edit pen, with all the cleaning and polishing and sporadic disappointment as the word count tumbles downward. But a few new chapters and some added character depth did emerge today, along with the awesome cover art.
Wait... what's that? Have I not actually mentioned what this project even is yet? Whoops. Let me remedy this.
As many are apparently unaware, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the release of Alice in Wonderland. There are a number of things going on in commemoration, and Marsha and I decided to do a little something of our own. The result is The Beast of Wunderland, a darker, more sinister take on the story. That's not actually quite true, since the story has changed entirely. I've incorporated many of the old familiar characters - the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and several others - but in revised, reworked roles following a whole new story arc.
I'm not entirely sure how to phrase what it is I'm doing. I'm not re-writing the novel, because the plot and story have changed. I'm not setting a new book in someone else's world, because Wunderland and Wonderland are pretty distinct and disparate. And I'm not placing someone else's characters into a new setting exactly, because aside from the names most bear little resemblance to the original. I guess the best I can do is to say it's a tip of the (top) hat to Lewis Carroll's work, painted with my own brush.
Speaking of painting, Marsha's cover art has captured exactly what I wanted for this. She listened to what I had to say about it, read what I'd written to date, and went to work. I couldn't be more pleased with the result.
It won't be a full-length novel, more like a nice long novella. We're pondering our options in terms of how to release it - whether a DIY self-release, or search for an interested publisher - and there are a few other ideas we've come up with that would take it in a new and visually exciting direction. When we know more about the ultimate finished product, you'll be the first to know!
Week one of the artist-in-residence is about halfway done and it's been quite an experience so far. I can't say whether or not it resembles what I'd pictured because I really didn't have much of an idea of what to expect going in. I mean sure, I'd been told a bit about it, but until you actually have the opportunity to spend your days working on your craft, doing something you love to do for more than just the love of it, it's something I couldn't really appreciate.
But that is exactly what I've been doing - creating something from nothing, in conjunction with my better half. When the weather's good people drop by in pairs and clusters, mostly to admire Marsha's amazing paintings but occasionally to ask me about what I do (usually on the heels of something like "Oh, you didn't paint these? Then what are you doing here?"). But the thing is, writing just isn't a very visually impressive art form. You see a guy plunked at a table huddled behind a laptop with notebooks and loose papers filled with frantic scribblings lying all around, and it doesn't exactly inspire a series of oohs or ahhs. I get that, and actually sort of anticipated that. Writing is a solitary act, for the most part, not much of a spectator sport.
But the real point isn't that, not really. At the end of the day, when I push back my chair and lock up for the evening, I can look back at what I've accomplished and see how it fits into the overall picture. I can, in my own way, paint a picture every bit as wondrous and spellbinding as the ones all around me on the walls. Marsha says it might be the best work I've ever produced, and given the fact she's not one to damn with faint praise, I take that as an encouraging sign.
We'll be there the rest of this week and next week right up to and including Labour Day. I've seen a few familiar faces so far, and would love to see anyone else who's in the area and feels like dropping in for a visit. For those who live too far away or can't get away during the day, I'll try to post more updates and maybe a pic or two here as time (and wonky internet onsite ) allows.
News & Notes
All the latest goings-on are brought to you, right here in this one convenient space!
Book covers and videos property of respective publishers/creators except where otherwise noted.
Photo credits: Biff Mitchell