Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ghost Rock Draft 11 Is Done

Somewhere between seven and eight years. Eleven drafts. (And three drafts of volume two, and an outline for volume three...) I ain't going over the names of the people who helped me right now, but I'm thinking of them.

I still have the delightful process of line edits and minor fixes and fussing with my writer's groups. Then? Off to the races.

There will be submissions to both agents and editors, with a particular eye cast on foreign markets.

And there will be a pre-professional edition. This is still in discussion and consideration, but tentatively? Two magazine-format volumes, illustrated, a signed, numbered limited release for friends and publicity. Most of y'all reading this will have a shot at one of those if you're interested. Just going to fish for some buzz...

Yeah, the book is an encrypted transformative ritual, a dissection of PTSD anatomized as landscape, an integration of personal, national, pre-Classical, and archetypal mythology with pop culture and genre fiction, about as thinly-veiled a memoir as you could ask, and so on and so forth to an intolerable extent. This is not a novel; it is a meme bomb in which the arts, sciences, and personal pathology intertwine to a hideous degree.

But how the fuck can I get an agent to look at the goddamned thing? Here's my first shot at a synopsis. Please, this would be an excellent time to comment -- does this make you interested in the manuscript?

Ghost Rock

If they put out a benefit calender for terminal virginity, Matt Cassad would be Mister February. Janitor Matt spends his time in his room, futzing around with his sketchbooks and his bass while pursuing his life-goal of withering into a bitter husk.

His cozy, miserable life goes all to hell with the entry of Lulu and Willy, a pair of homeless musicians. Something awakens in him, a sensitivity to an unseen world. Then a shoving match over an attempted mugging leads to a vengeful death by fire. Matt's involvement propels him into an escalating series of vividly biological hallucinations. When reality shatters, he finds himself the rescuer of a decaying afterlife – and a participant in a post-mortem vendetta as he’s pursued between worlds by the ghosts of the men involved in the mugging. (He's killed them once or twice, depending on how you count these things.)

Someone else wants Matt. Corrie. Is she the green-haired goddess of a bizarre evolutionary hothouse, an ageless siren with wisdom beyond human years, or is she "a four-hundred-year old little fat girl who talks like a cross between Benjamin Franklin and Madame Blavatsky?" Opinions vary.

The gods, guns, ghosts, madness, monsters, superpowers, and explosions are Matt’s meat and drink. Matt is ready to fight, and Matt is ready to die. Matt’s struggle is inside, where hatred of self wars with the need for others. This has always been Matt’s fight to lose. Now, when Lulu and Willie's lives are at stake, what chance does he have?

That depends on the power of love. And rock and roll.


Neil Vogler said...

I'm interested. I want to read it. It's ticking my boxes.

(Sidenote: very interested that you mention Blavatsky. Blavatsky's words feature in my manuscript, and play an important part in the story.)

The crit: at first blush, I'd say the synopsis is interesting and full of great phrasing, but the second paragraph reads as a little confusing to me (on a second read not so much. But an agent won't read it twice...) Additionally, when the synopsis is over I'm still a little unclear as to what exactly the stakes are or what Matt's primary mission is. Are there real-world implications to his actions that are easily identifiable? I would suggest it needs some kind of simplification. Treat me like an idiot here, because maybe I am one.

Finally, this sounds really intriguing. The vocabulary is great and the voice on display very strong. The tone is clever and playful and hints at a lot of light and shade. Overall it's a good job, man.

Sean Craven said...

Aha! Thank you very much, Neil. Back to step one.

Failure to state the story. I start with the sale, not with the substance, and sales come more frequently than substance.

Start with a briefly stated summation of the plot as a skeleton, and then fancy that up with the wise-ass remarks. Got it.

This is why Nature gives us the beautiful gift of drafts.

If you like the Blavatsky, Corrie's seeker of choice is Alastair Bailey, who claimed to have been trepanned by the reptile men of Mount Shasta, but actually never left Surrey.

Neil Vogler said...

Well I should say that re-reading the synopsis, it gets better and clearer each time. It's rich with detail. The problem is that with a synopsis the people whose attention you want are likely half asleep or sleep deprived or only reading with one eye whilst simultaneously checking their Facebook. (Vast generalisation, yes. But I believe there's some truth in there too.) So you basically need to spell it out. Like I said, when it comes to the synopsis, treat us like we're stupid. Once we're reading your book we can feel clever again!

...if you want an opinion on the next draft of this synopsis, I'm happy to help. My email is on my blog page.