"A young artist opens a door between the land of the living and the dead. As Ada walks the divide, she falls in love with a dead man and becomes tangled into a Southern blood cult of lies and erotic ritual..."
The updated logline for my work-in-progress.
I'm in New Orleans through the weekend, visiting my dear buddy. Drinking juice outside a cafe on Magazine Street, stitching words into pages. A perfect October afternoon: sunny, and sharpened with caffeine.
Thank you, Hey Cafe, for reminding me of my favorite old coffee haunt in Tucson, where I wrote much of Astra!
Interviewed a lovely new jazz artist in Charleston earlier this week, at one of the most sincere and super cozy coffeehouses I've ever been in. Distillation (of interview) coming soon.
“I’ll help.” Jo curled after her, like a snake grasping through tree branches. “Patrick?”
“I’m all yours,” he said.
Remember the post On Writing: Descriptions? I've been working on describing characters by their gestures, and one of the descriptions I came up with for that post was:
"She was a curled woman, everything about her sinuous and unwinding. Standing near her you always felt a little as though she might wrap around you, like a vine or a constricting snake..."
It's good to continue to free write even when you're working on a larger piece. I didn't do this when I was writing Astra. Wish I had! Since it hasn't been formally released yet, I'll have a chance to do another pass over it for Stu after finishing up the initial draft of this novel.
Anyway, a little more on Jo, a member of the cabal that befriends Mary:
"...a slight woman with fluffy dark hair. The woman had a sympathetic, fading prettiness. Her nose was a perfectly burnished fin between large, spaniel-like eyes that had just begun to droop with age, and her harmless face, now puffy from wine, was pale as a bee sting."
I haven't been posting lately because the work lately has too explicit to share here. Suffice to say- dude, I am packing some heat into this little ol' Southern Gothic.
The writing's still going pretty well, although more slowly than I'd like, at least these past couple days. It's interesting how that works- one or two weeks 'on', and then one or two weeks 'off'. I was on a long walk this evening, looking for new cubbies to write in around town. Tomorrow morning I'll shake things up and see what that does for the day's work.
Meanwhile. Here's a pretty thing.
“I chose to close the house in with plexi glass because I wanted it to be inaccessible, and tomb-like - inaccessible in that one cannot enter a real dollhouse because of the scale, and tomb-like because it encapsulates a time and a lifestyle that no longer exists, and will never exist again”, [Canadian artist Heather Benning] said.
Wonderful piece. Can you imagine it at night, alone in the fields?
Her quote made me remember these. The Original EcoSphere...
I always wanted one as a kid, but was always a little terrified of them- what a sinister thing, to entomb life inside a tiny little glass ball! Poor shrimps. They were sort of like a beta version of Sims, mm?
But then, aren't we all. Ha.
"In her bedroom Ada dressed slowly, with ritual care, her skin buzzing as though the walls watched. She liked her room. The walls smelled like vanilla and old books in the sun. But when it rained, the house became strange and dark, as though it kept a secret. The oaks and magnolias unfurling alongside the house seemed to claw towards it like a nightmare row of hands.
The day was warm, though; the wooden boards had not forgotten their months of wildness and were no longer asleep. Under the touch of birds and sneaking rain, their surface had faded as pale as a fawn's..."
(the house was abandoned after a grisly incident, hence the months of wildness)
The more otherworldly your writing, the more important it is for you to ground your words with concrete images: walls, books, trees, floorboards.
Close your eyes and imagine your page as if it were a scene in a movie; what do you see?
What would you feel if you were there?
Smells, sensations, emotions... just a little bit of symbolism and foreshadowing... if you work this stuff into every scene, your story will feel like a world unto itself.
Try to hit every sense on every page if you can.
P.Z. West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is a Library Journal Self-e Selection, winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.04)
ratings: 24 (avg rating 3.46)
Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.40)
Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.17)
Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)