Novel Writing

And now I will blather about some of the novels I’m trying to write. A lot of what I write has a tendency to come out as young adult fiction or something like Japanese light novels. I don’t know how to feel about that, but if nothing else it’s a genre with a definite market.

UFO Girl

UFO Girl is going to be a series of books about a teenage half-alien girl named Janet Smith. Specifically, she’s half-Altairan, and in the story the people of Altair look human apart from having metal antennas a la My Favorite Martian . In the first book, UFO Girl and the End of the World , she has to find a way to stop an asteroid from destroying the Earth. Along the way Janet and her mom run into the Greys, the Men in Black, the Ro-Man, a bunch of weird ufologists, the catgirls on the moon, and fiendish agents of Planet X.

This is a story that veers between silliness and seriousness, and definitely reflects Terry Pratchett’s influence. I’ve been working on it off and on for some time, and it only really started to come together when Symphony of Science’s ” A Glorious Dawn ” came along. Janet started off as a generically cynical teen, but she now has this deep-rooted appreciation for the beauty of the cosmos that drives her to protect the world. She dreams of a bright and beautiful City of the Future, a place where mankind can finally achieve its true potential. It was a fun story to work on from the start, but the Carl Sagan influence is what made me really fall in love with Janet and want to tell her story.

At first I hadn’t particularly planned to write any sequels, but as soon as I allowed the idea to enter my head, I wrote a list of a couple dozen possible titles. When I wrote my first draft of UFO Girl and the End of the World for NaNoWriMo, I wound up needing to fill out the word count some more in the last week, so I got a good start on UFO Girl vs. Vampire Boy. That’s the project that led me to read the Twilight saga, and it’s most definitely going to have some veiled criticisms of that, and stuff that’s a lot deeper than just “herp derp sparkly vampires.” [1] More recently I’ve been getting back into Tenacious D, and listening to Beelzeboss repeatedly has me wanting to have one of the books be something ridiculously metal, with a title like “UFO Girl and the Metal Gods of Titan.”

Nekomimi Land

Every now and then I write a story so packed with negativity that it’s hard for me to actually go back to it, no matter how cathartic it is to actually write.

Dystopia stories seem to be kind of a big deal now, The Hunger Games being the one that really made a splash. Scott Westerfeld (author of the Uglies series) wrote an article that in essence contends that for teen readers dystopia themes are all too relevant to their daily lives. My high school experience was not great, but it seems like it’s gotten that much worse in recent years, with teenagers feeling at turns penned into a police state and left to the Lord of the Flies with their peers. The Hunger Games is actually kind of unusual in that it’s hard to see where Suzanne Collins is pointing to anything specific in real life. When Aldous Huxley and George Orwell each commented on the other’s dystopia novel, both essentially said that the other had written a compelling novel, but he himself had written the correct story of what was to come. Huxley went so far as to write “Brave New World Revisited,” a series of essays on how society and technology were realizing his nightmare vision even faster than he’d expected.

Nekomimi Land is about a guy who gets turned into a catgirl, and then kidnapped and taken to a dystopian fairyland called “Nekomimi Land.” (“Nekomimi” literally means “cat ear” in Japanese, and it’s their term for catgirls and catboys.) The story is more about the present than the future. It’s my nauseated reaction to the cross-section of society obsessed with sex and youth, though not in the way you might think. I’m not at all a prude–to me sex-negative attitudes are one of our major problems as a culture in fact–but I detest how society basically tells you that if you’re not getting laid pretty regularly you’re a total failure and don’t really count as a person. It’s also got some elements that critique otaku culture, as well as the over-valuing of extroversion. The result is something like an anxiety attack on paper, though I suppose that’s about how a dystopia story should make you feel.

I’ve been trying to finally finish it up, which has been a major challenge in a lot of ways. The big thing I’m wrestling with is how to structure the overall story, because I want to more fully develop what goes on between Kaylee’s transformation and her arrival in Nekomimi Land, but without having several chapters before you get to the thing mentioned in the book’s title. My game plan is presently to have most of the book alternate between Nekomimi Land and flashbacks, and hopefully further emphasizing how cut off and trapped Kaylee feels there.

The other reason I really want to finish it is because a friend of mine did some really fantastic illustrations for it, and I don’t want them to go to waste.

Slime Story

It was around 2006 that I originally came up with the Slime Story setting, since then and I’ve been working on a novel and an RPG in parallel. The setting is a world like ours, except that 10 years ago portals opened up all over the world and started spitting out cute monsters like from a Korean MMORPG. There are parts of the world where corporations or warlords vie for control of the portals and precious monster parts, but in suburban American monster hunting has become a hobby for teenagers with nothing better to do.

My first successful attempt at NaNoWriMo resulted in Slime Story: The Legend of Doug . In it a teenage monster hunter named Doug Mackay struggles with having a girlfriend and trying to figure out what’s causing the strange earthquakes in his hometown of Los Banos, CA. The first draft has a lot of deep flaws that I need to do something about, but lots of parts I really like too. I have an idea for another Slime Story book, a more introspective story that takes place in Albuquerque, called “The Song of Michael.”

Tiny Aliens

I originally conceived of this story as a comic, but I’ve since decided to write it in prose form first. [2] In it a trio of very small aliens from the planet Kyut come to earth to invade, but their plans hit a snag in that by human standards they’re about 4-5 inches tall. They end up living with a college student named Michael, who’s kind of an otaku (and initially mistakes them for figures), but otherwise pretty normal. The stuff that ensues is a bit Sgt. Frog and a bit Invader Zim, and some I don’t even know what. The three aliens, Phoenix, Carbon, and Tulip, come from a matriarchal society where the highest virtue for a male is submissiveness, and Carbon especially tends to call Michael a “drone.”

I’ve only made a tiny start on actually writing it, but I’m liking how it’s turning out at least. Also, the Kyutian imperial anthem is called “O Empire,” and is based on “O, Canada.” I don’t know why I did that, but Tulip trying to sing, “O, Empire, we conquer all for thee” while plastered to the ceiling of a crashing spaceship is pretty great I think. I posted a bit more about the story and what I’m planning over on my Tumblr.

[1] Besides, RiffTrax already did the definitive sparkly vampires bit.

[2] I could and probably will fill up a whole other blog post about my relationship with comic writing. But in short: it’s way harder than it looks.

One comment

  1. Serdar says:

    I’ve got about 15-20 projects in a wiki, compiled from all kinds of crumbling notebooks and dog-eared pages, which never got started and which still tease me every so often to be put into effect. I never throw away an idea, though, because you never know when it can bump into something new in your life and re-germinate in an entirely different form.

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