Imaginary Imaginings

YamadaEmperor-600I have a quirk which my wife has often remarked upon. I have conversations in my head which I then forget to have in real life, yet will sometimes believe that I’ve done so. I’m so used to holding up two ends (or more) of an imaginary conversation and spinning scenarios that it’s not always easy to turn off. Unchecked, it can play havoc in a normal relationship, and I do try to keep it under control. Nevertheless, I’d never want to eliminate this quirk, because it is simply too useful a tool. What is dialogue except an imaginary conversation between two beings who do not exist, save on the screen or page?

However….

What happens when the imaginary scenario turns into an imaginary scenario? By which I mean in the writing process an imaginary conversation did not manifest beyond the imagination?

You’re right—I’m not sure I understood that last bit myself, so let me try again, more concrete, less surreal. I finished the rough draft of Yamada Monogatari: The Emperor in Shadow on May 24th. First Reader was kind enough to push it up to the top of her queue because of the time crunch, and the last several days I’ve been working through the rewrite. In the book Yamada needed a crucial piece of information. I worked out a logical way for him to receive said information without alerting the wrong people, and I worked out the scene where it happens. I set the logic bomb in motion and wrote out what followed from this crucial scene to the end of the book.

One problem—I never wrote the actual scene.

How did I manage to do this? Beats me, fore the reason already mentioned. I did not discover this until the read through. There was a hole in the book, left there by me because I had envisioned the scene and its aftermath so clearly, so completely, that somewhere in the twisty lump I call a brain, I thought I’d already written the darn thing. Only I hadn’t. This took all of ten minutes to correct, since the scene was still in my head, down to the last detail, right where I had left it. It was like sentences where someone leaves out a word—or perhaps you do it yourself—in a succession of words which flow such that your brain fills in the missing word even though it is not there. Sometimes you never even notice.

Fortunately for me and the book, I did notice. Though if I hadn’t, I fully expected to hear about it from my editor at Prime—“How the hell does he know this??”

I spared us both the aggravation, but it was a close call.

The book is turned in, and assuming no major revisions are needed—or I didn’t leave anything else out–we should be on track for a September 2016 release. Now it is on to other imaginary conversations, which I hope I will at least remember to write down.

Zen and the Art of Beating Your Head Against a Wall: Who Am I This Week?

YamadaEmperor-600Most of this post will have nothing to do with the image above. It’s the likely final cover for the next Yamada book, due out in September. I saw a working image much sooner, but since the publisher (Prime Books) has officially put it up on their website, I’m showing it here for the first time.  I am working furiously to make sure the book happens on schedule, but taking a few minutes to surface here because I feel bad about missing my post yesterday. I try to keep the posts themselves on schedule too, but you’re always doing battle with the day, and sometimes you don’t win. Yesterday I made my word quota on the book but the rest of the day was spent on an errand to New Hartford and a new air compressor for the next phase of trim work in the house. Soon: back to painting. The fun never stops on the quirky castle on the hill.

All that aside, a day or two ago I sold a reprint story to a new anthology(details TBA). Writers love reprints for a couple of obvious reasons. 1) It’s money for work we’ve already done and 2) Every appearance helps raise the profile and name recognition just a tad, non-trivial if you’re trying to build a readership, and what writer isn’t? Yet again, the post isn’t about that as such, nice though it is, but an event it triggered.

I have to provide a bio.

Yep, I’m here to fuss about bios again. Probably the one thing none of us should complain about is having to provide brief author biographies for whoever is publishing you. When I was just starting out I’d be thrilled at the idea, and struggle to keep the thing within the 100-200 words you’re generally allowed. Now if I can manage more than a couple of sentences it’s only a victory of the will. I went through a phase of just making stuff up, because that’s what I do anyway, but bios are supposed to be non-fiction, at least in theory. I finally judged it inappropriate to claim I had a side career teaching T’ai-Chi to polar bears, though stressed as the poor things are now, they can probably use it. So I generally end up writing something like this:

“Richard Parks’ work has appeared in Asimov’s SF, Realms of Fantasy, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and several “Year’s Best” anthologies and has been nominated for both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature. The fourth book in the Yamada Monogatari series, The Emperor in Shadow, is due out from Prime Books in September 2016. He blogs at “Den of Ego and Iniquity Annex #3”, also known as: www.richard-parks.com

Seriously, can you get any more boring than that? Possibly, but you’d really have to work at it. And they’re all variations on this one. Believe me, I take comfort in the knowledge that a lot of readers don’t even bother with them, and why should they? It’s the story that counts. The paradox is that I hope publishers keep asking me for them for a long, long time to come.

Yamada Monogatari: To Break the Demon Gate -Addendum

Break The Demon Gates endpapers

 

The lovely dancer above is Ben Baldwin’s illustration of Lady Snow, from the endpapers for the PS Publishing edition of  To Break the Demon Gate. You haven’t met Lady Snow yet, but if you’re a reader of the series you’ll see a few familiar faces. In fact, some of it will be very familiar, since Part 1 of the novel is a revised version of “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge.”

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating as the book is practically published even as I speak–I didn’t know that “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge” was the opening to a novel when I wrote it, at least partly because it is a self-contained story arc all to itself. It wasn’t the whole story, and I did know that at the time, but I assumed it was because later stories in the series would expand and resolve it the unresolved issues. I was wrong about that. The stories do not, for the most part, directly address the events from “Moon Viewing,” nor do they ignore it, and some of the closure, as long-time readers know, comes from “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest.” However, that still leaves one heck of a lot of story. Continue reading

Yamada’s Saga – Timeline

Japanese Mask

It occurs to me, with the mixing of short fiction and novel-length stories that make up the Yamada timeline, that it might not be a bad idea to set this all out now, at least to the degree I understand it (and if you think the writer knows everything about what they’ve done, think again). Most of the stories occur in the timeline/continuity in the order that they were written, but the novels do throw one or two curves into the mix, so here goes:

 

“Fox Tails” – First Yamada story written. Knew it was a series then, didn’t know where it was going.

“Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge” – Second Yamada story. Yamada’s sad history with Princess Teiko is revealed. This was the story where I think I first got a good handle on who Yamada was and what he was about.

YAMADA MONOGATARI: DEMON HUNTER.  First Yamada collection. The stories contained therein were usually a reader’s first introduction to the series and were published over a span of years and appear in the order they were written, but the continuity is not complete in them because….

Here’s where it gets a little complicated:

TO BREAK THE DEMON GATE.  First actual Yamada novel. TBTDG incorporates “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge” which forms the first section of the book, and no, I didn’t know that it was the first section of a novel when I wrote it. I figured that out later. The balance of the novel concerns the events leading up to Yamada’s final confrontation with Lord Sentaro. This was written after several of the stories appearing in YM:DH but before “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest,” which ends the collection, but in the continuity of the series, they all, except “Fox Tails” and “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge,” occur after the events of the novel. At the end of TO BREAK THE DEMON GATE, Yamada has still not made peace with the memory of Princess Teiko. That comes later (see “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest.”) I’m not sure when the PS Publishing limited edition is coming out, but Prime Books has the trade reprint scheduled for December 2014.

“The Sorrow of Rain” – If you have no idea what this story is, that is because it hasn’t been published yet. But it falls in the timeline before “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest” but after TO BREAK THE DEMON GATE.(Edited to note: Oops. It falls after “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest.”  I misremembered.)

THE WAR GOD’S SON – complete but under revision. The events of this book occur about seven years after “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest,” and take place after all the short stories written to date in the continuity. The novel is set during what is usually referred to as The Nine Years’ War in Japanese history (though, with delays and truces, it was more like twelve). The tearing of the social fabric that will eventually bring about the end of the Heian Period and the rise of the samurai is already evident, but won’t manifest completely for another hundred and twenty years. We also get to meet Yamada’s elder sister. There is no current publication date scheduled.

And that’s where it stands. Confused? I would be. I often am.