I am easily distracted by shiny objects. Or projects.
Actually, they don’t have to be that shiny.
Actually, they don’t even have be sane.
Which is why, in the middle of working on a Perfectly Good Story With Potential That People Like, Goddamnit, my brain said “Hey! I want to write a paranormal romance!”
“No,” I said.
“It’d be fun! You’ve never done it before, maybe you’d be great at it!”
“…Really, no.” I went back to writing.
After a few minutes I stopped and stretched and winced a little because I pulled a weird little nameless muscle across the top of my ribs and said “Okay, for the sake of argument, if I were going to write a paranormal romance, what would it be about? Don’t say vampires, because I’ll lobotomize myself with my plastic drink straw right here and now.”
“I wasn’t going to say vampires,” said my brain haughtily. “I would never say vampires. I have some standards.”
“Good to hear it. And don’t say were-whatever because everything that can possibly turn into another thing has already been done to death. Including selkies. I don’t get selkies. Who wants to get in a relationship with a blubbery mammal that stinks of fish?”
“Nope,” said my brain. “I’m better than that.”
“And no dragons.”
“Absolutely no dragons,” agreed my brain.
“Fine,” I said. “Lay it on me.”
“Night-gaunts,” said my brain smugly.
I stared into the middle distance. My favorite cafe makes a mean chicken salad sandwich, but they also have some really bad art on the walls. I stared at the lumpy head of a badly painted heron for so long it started to look like high art.
“Night-gaunts,” I said after awhile.
“Sure!” My brain was really excited about this one. “They’re dark! They’re mysterious! They have wings! They serve Nodens, Lord of the Hoary Abyss, which totally sounds like a euphemism!”
“Why do I even talk to you? Seriously. I am sure the pancreas could take over most of the basic motor functions if I asked nicely.”
“It hasn’t been done,” said my brain, with dignity.
“There’s a reason for that.”
I went back to writing.
After a few minutes I said “Seriously, they have no faces and they communicate by tickling.”
“Totally a fetish for some people!” said my brain, and then ducked as I tried to punch myself in the neocortex.
“I am never listening to you again.”
My brain let me stew for a bit and then said “Maybe you take some liberties. Say he can talk. Maybe he’s only half night-gaunt.”
“In that case screw him, I want to know what’s up with his parents!”
“He could have a tail!” offered my brain. “You’ve always wanted a tail!”
“I wanted a prehensile tail so that I have another shot at catching things when I drop them. That’s not a selling point in a hero. What’s next? Ghouls?”
“Don’t be disgusting. They eat dead people.”
“Totally a fetish for some peop—”
“The waitress is staring at you,” said my brain haughtily.
“And whose fault is that?”
I returned to my writing on the Perfectly Good Project. I have finished a solid dozen books in my life, so I know that I can finish things. It’s just that I started about thirty books in order to get those dozen. My ratio is poor.
“Seriously. Night-gaunts? Really?”
“Fine,” said my brain, in a snit. “When you see that Stephanie Meyer has written Gaunt and it’s made twenty million dollars on the YA market, you’ll wish you’d jumped on my idea.”
“I see absolutely no possibility of that happening.”
“There’s a market!”
“There is no possible world where the Lovecraft/paranormal romance fan crossover is a viable marketshare. The Venn diagrams barely overlap. And my agent doesn’t read Lovecraft. She will have no idea what I’m talking about.” I fiddled with my mouse for a minute. “Actually, it’d probably be better if she didn’t…”
“A few chapters,” said my brain. “Just a couple. Ten thousand words. If you don’t like it after ten thousand words, you can chuck it on the pile with the other thirty unwritten books.”
“You have no idea how much I hate you,” I said.
“And you can finally use that blood-drinking hummingbird you’ve been trying to shove into a manuscript since you were nineteen!”
“I knew vampires would come into this eventually…”
Wolf Lahti ,
“I see absolutely no possibility of that happening.”
If I’d had a look at anything Stephenie Meyer had written prior to her getting published, and anyone had mentioned the possibility that she would make millions of dollars off of it (or that someone would even publish such an assault on English grammar and storytelling in general), I would have said exactly what you said up there.
I guess it just means, you never know.
I know you have a professional agent and editors and everything, but if you ever need some outside help I would like to offer my services.
Seriously, though, I would read the everything out of this story. It sounds awesome.
Stephanie Meyer had a paranormal romance between a girl and her brain parasite (and no. It was not as awesome as it sounds).
BUT IT SOLD AND IT CAN BE DONE
I promise to buy anything you publish that has “bloodsucking hummingbirds” in the advertisements. Please write this story? Pretty please?
I am reading for the Cybils Book Awards, and I just read a YA novel which included WERE-ARMADILLOS.
So, Ursula’s Brain – Gaunts: they can be done… and look! There’s plotting help, if you want it, right here!
But, Ursula, I’d talk nicely to your pancreas again… reeeeally nicely…
I’m sure a Nightgaunt romance would be perfectly cromulent, but I’m still hoping for the Regency Ninja story. Don’t let the sexy ebony facelessness of the nightgaunts distract you! (Ooh, unless you could combine them. Oswald Tickleton Nightgaunt, the wastrel third son of Lord Nodens of Shropshire, wore a shocking cummerbund at last night’s ball!)
P. Kirby ,
No, dragons? But it has to have dragons! *Whines*
Oh, I hear ya. I think both my completed novels were belligerent ideas that popped up while I working on some other project.
Heehee, best of luck with that!
One thing, though. Meyer would never be so creative as to name the thing Gaunt; it’s too, uh, anorexic/corpsey.
She’d totally name it Night. Because co-opting perfectly normal parts of the 24-hour cycle and branding them forever with would-be angsty teen romance is ALREADY a proven part of her M.O. as shown…
I’m attempting to think up a Gilbert&Sullivan pun that involves “Ick Gauntless” but it’s too late in the afternoon to make it work.
But a paranormal, tongue-in-cheek operatta set on the high Lovecraftian seas … oh go ON. You know you want to …
It could be worse. You get a paranormal romance with a blood-drinking hummingbird shoehorned in, I get an urge to find an excuse to use the phrase:
Well, aren’t YOU a dark and stormy wight!
The setup is easy enough. Blind romantic interest, and either they meet in a library for the blind, or they start out as Mysterious Penpals.
C’mon. Its also got potential Hollywood appeal, as the supernatural version of “You’ve Got Mail”!