Kiss the Dead Tour – Seattle

I’m writing this blog about our wonderful event in Seattle while looking out at palm trees and Southern California ocean. Much warmer, sunnier, and just different from the great Pacific Northwest. Both have an ocean, but this is all sand and beach goers, and Seattle is more about the city, and what comes out of the sea, rather than dipping our toes in it. Jon and I love Seattle, but I admit that I’m glad to have sunshine and no rain.
Thanks to everyone that came out last night to the Seattle Town Hall, where University Books sponsored yet another great event for us. Thanks to the whole crew, but especially Duane, and Art, who helped keep us secure, and Michael who risked life and limb to take the pictures. We really thought he was going to back off the stage a time, or two. :-) Some of the fans said they’d seen us at least three times, or was that four? I know you guys want the new books as they come out, but I’m amazed that you also want to hear the question and answer session, the show, again and again. I’m glad I can entertain you for two hours at a shot, and keep so many of you coming back.
One question I figured I’d get a lot this tour was when’s the next Merry Gentry novel coming out. Most of you knew it was scheduled for December. Last night I asked, “How many of you follow me on twitter, or FaceBook?” Over half the audience raised their hands. I then asked, “How many of you have noticed that I’m having trouble with this Merry book?” Again, a lot of hands went up. I’ve been listening to a lot of Christmas music which is what I go to when I’m really struggling with a book. Merry has not been happy with this book from the beginning, and neither have I. I wasn’t sure what was wrong at first, but eventually Merry told me, if you stop arguing with your characters and let them talk to you, most of the time they’ll let you know what’s wrong. What’s wrong is that to have a book you have to make your main character’s life unhappy. To make an interesting book you have to have things go wrong, and Merry is truly happy for the first time in her life, or at least since her father died, and she doesn’t want me messing that up. She has her twins, the men she’s in love with, and the men she loves, and it’s all good. I honestly think I should have stopped the series at book seven, Swallowing Darkness, but I was still under contract for more books and I still love the world. I also couldn’t imagine never writing about Merry, Doyle, Frost, Rhys, Galen, . . . heck everybody. But if I had stopped with book seven I could have given her that happy-ever-after-ending, and moved on. But I didn’t, I wrote book eight, Divine Misdemeanors, and even that could have been the end, but I left one huge plot point looming. Queen Andais, Merry’s aunt, has gone completely bug nuts and is basically a serial killer except she’s picking on victims that can’t die. If they could die, she’d be torturing her nobles to death. They are fleeing to Los Angeles and to Merry and her men. Andais won’t tolerate that forever, but more than that Merry can’t leave her people to the ministrations of Andais. If I had not added that last bit of insanity to the queen we could have walked away, but I wrote it and now we’re stuck. Merry can’t leave Andais on the throne, but she fears she will die in a duel and orphan her babies, and lose everything. Merry wants to be left the fuck alone, and I can’t really blame her. So, what to do?
I took a day to clear my head and write something else, because sometimes an idea will block the creative pipe. Fifty pages later I had the beginning of the next Anita Blake novel. It was ready to write and ready to go. Okay. I went back to Merry, because that was what was due next. Again, the writing slowed to a crawl, so I took a day, and thirty-forty pages later I had the beginnings of a brand new book set in a brand new world, with a brand new main character. That book is almost ready to write, I just need a little more time to world build, but the character, the voice, and the opening gambit are written and set. It’s based on a sticky note that I’ve had on my wall of stickies for ten years. I love it when an idea finally lets me know it’s ready. Then I went back to Merry, and the book never picked up. I crawled along at a pace that was never going to make deadline. I finally had to call my agent and my editor and tell them it wasn’t happening. There will be no Merry book in December this year. Sorry, guys but there won’t be. Merry has put her foot down and simply doesn’t want her life screwed up this badly. I have tried everything and anything I can think of, but in the end Merry won’t play ball. I’m leaving her alone, and going to let her and the muse that plays with her sit and think. I think we’ll work it out eventually, but I have no idea when. I know we will though, because I have scenes written when the twins are in kindergarten in L. A. and they are fun scenes. We will get there, but first we have Andais to conquer, seduce, or something. I have some ideas, but they aren’t ready yet. It’s cooking, slowly, and in the mean time . . .
If I had still been at two different publishing houses I’d be in serious trouble, because the other publisher would want the Merry book, but this sort of thing is why I decided one publisher in the U. S. would be a good thing, because now whatever book I write is theirs, so they won’t get a Merry book in December, but they’ll get the next Anita book, though not in December. Sorry, even I don’t write that fast. They’ll get the new book when the time comes, too. Whatever I’m working on is something they get to publish and make money from, so they stay happy, and I have the luxury as a writer of actually writing what speaks to my muse, and wants to be written next, regardless of deadline pressure. This is the first time in twenty years, thirty books that I’ve ever had to miss a deadline completely, and just say, “I can’t.” I hated doing it. Hated saying it, but once I worked through the issues of having to do it, it was a huge relief. I should have called it a couple of months ago, but I’m nothing if not stubborn, and I was just sure I could force my way through it. But writing isn’t like making widgets, it’s not just tab B into slot A, if it was then anyone could do it, and you’d get a Merry book this Yuletide season, but there is an element of mystery to it that even I don’t completely understand. I do know that by forcing myself to stay with this book long after I, my muse, and my main character, were done with it hurt me as a writer, and pissed my muse off. She left me for a bit, my muse. She left me to the harsh mercilessness of the blank screen, and no words. I’d never been so empty, not since I was twelve. It was one of the most horrible feelings. I had been disdainful of people with writer’s block. That it was a failure of confidence and that wasn’t really something I suffered from as a writer, but it’s more than that. The muse, whatever it is exactly, needs a certain amount of care and feeding, and trying to force feed this Merry book down it’s throat damn near made us both choke.
My muse wants to play with Anita, and the new story, and other ideas are coming, but only after I came to my senses and stopped treating my gift, my muse, my inspiration, like an assembly line where you can just put a book together because it’s time to do it. I’ve done it that way for twenty years. I have never, ever abandoned a book in place. Hell, I sold the first book I ever wrote, Nightseer. Most writers have trunks of unsold, and mostly unsalable books, but not me. I write it, I sell it, its what I do, but not this time. This time my muse let me know that I had to cut this shit out, or she was packing her bags and leaving, so . . . I cut this shit out. I listened to that mysterious part of me, and I am learning what feeds my muse, what inspires me, and what starves her, and what harms me as an artist.
Eventually I’m pretty sure you’ll get the next Merry book, but I don’t know when. You will get the next Anita book, because I’m writing it now, and you will get the brand new adventure because it’s alive in my head and I’m making more notes, and there will be other short stories, because my muse and I have reconciled like a feuding couple rediscovering that they love each other, after all.

Posted by at 3:14:46 am on June 9, 2012

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