It’s been two years-and-a-bit since Alpha Redemption hit the shelves. I still haven’t fully recovered from the shock, which might explain why the sequel has taken so long. Although, in my defence, I did finish Hanzet in the meantime so I reckon that’s a good excuse.
One thing I discovered while writing the sequel is that, while still enjoyable, writing to a deadline is more work than fun. You’re always aware that the clock is ticking and that you have to stop playing solitaire and focus. At the moment, however, I’m in the fortunate position of starting a new project from scratch and without any pressure. It’s great to be writing just for the sheer unadulterated pleasure of it. I sit down at my desk, crack my knuckles (not really, but it’s a great cliché), toss my hair back (ed: LOL), and write.
For my next project, I’m working on an anthology of short stories with some Magical Realist content. I was introduced to the genre by my tutor as a way of broadening my reading horizons. In case you’ve never heard of it (I hadn’t) Magic Realism includes stories in which weird, magical, fantastical, or dream-like elements are inserted into an otherwise perfectly normal narrative.
The first story with Magical Realist elements I read was “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol, written around 1835. In this piece, a man’s nose falls off and moves through Russian society where it eventually achieves a higher office than its owner and refuses to be reattached. The story is bizarre and confusing at first, but it demonstrates the Magic Realist genre by treating a socially mobile nose as though it were perfectly normal. Unlike Fantasy, where such a story might feature noses and ears living in a world of body parts, thereby making the entire world fantastical, the nose in “The Nose” is the only weird element. At first you don’t realize that the character is a nose because the narrative treats him (it) as a normal person. Only once the plot has developed do you see what is going on. Plus, it helps to know that you are reading Magic Realism which means you expect something odd.
At first glance, the genre may seem silly or ridiculous, but there is usually a purpose behind this. The imagery can be memorable, even disturbing. The sheer weirdness forces it to stick in your mind long after you have finished reading.
So that’s what I’m busy with right now. I don’t want to create anything disturbing, but I do want it to be memorable. At the very least, I can tell you that it is great fun to write. There’s loads of scope for subtext, plus you get to let your imagination go berserk for a while.