As you probably know, I have been taking a break from writing Shadows and Stars and working on Lycanthrope, a psychological thriller/horror instead.
Shadows and Stars is over 150,000 words and needs some editing and a little revision, but revising it was becoming complex and I was becoming a little burnt out on it. There is also something more I need to do to it, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet.
However, the ideas for Lycanthrope started to flow about that time and they keep flowing. Lycanthrope will be a psychological thriller about a man in rural Arkansas who wants to become a werewolf and therefore researches the combination of herbs that was used to do this in the Middle Ages. It is then about his reign of terror and its end. I am writing it in stream-of-consciousness style as if he were writing down everything in a journal.
This is an idea I have had bouncing around in my head for literally decades. I first came up with the idea for a novel about a werewolf when I was serving aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) from 1991-93. I started writing it but never got farther than a few pages. I really didn’t know anything about writing novels at that time. I tried tinkering with it off and on for years, but never had a good concept of where I wanted to take it. That all changed in December. I started it afresh then and now have 38,514 words that are almost finished. I will have very little editing to do to these. I would like to reach 80,000, but I will take the story as far as necessary to tell the tale completely, whether that is 50,000 or 70,000 or whatever. Right now, I doubt I will go past 75,000.
When I first conceived the story, it was set in the Northwest near Bremerton, WA, where I was living at the time. When I moved to Texas, I thought about setting it there. When I moved to New Mexico, I thought about setting it there. I have always wanted to set it where I was living at the time, so that I could describe the terrain and culture accurately. Now that I live in Arkansas, Arkansas seems a perfect fit, although one doesn’t usually associate Arkansas with wolves like one would do with mountains and endless forests. However, in the rural setting of southeast Arkansas, it seems natural that a man who wants to escape his life here would dream of living in the mountains of the Northwest, and if he has a murderous bent, he would dream of being a werewolf ranging through the Olympics and Cascades. If he can’t relocate and is stuck here, then he would be a werewolf here. This area is open with a lot of huge crop fields, but it is also surrounded by seemingly endless forests. Its population is sparse, so that a werewolf could range far and wide without being seen as he seeks out opportunities to prey upon people living on the edge of society.
Also, when I first conceived the story, I was going through a rather dark phase of my life and my mentality turned toward dark things like horror movies. Oddly, thinking about dark things, so long as I don’t dwell on them constantly, seems to me find relief from the darkness sometimes surrounding me. I think it is because that somehow I realize that no matter how bad my life might be, it can always be much worse. Maybe it’s because if I feel down getting lost in a horror movie or writing a dark story provides an escape of sorts, so that it is easier to face whatever that is bringing me down. It’s hard to explain. I have never been one for cheery, happy stuff anyway. Facing horror seems to prepare me for horrible moments, whereas someone who has only known happiness would be overwhelmed by those moments.
After I moved to Texas in 1993, I went through a period where I constantly read up on murderers and serial killers as research for Lycanthrope. That fascinated me for a long time, but then I reached a point where it nauseated me, not just from having read so much on one subject, but because I was beginning to see serial killers for the sick, twisted freaks they are. Of course, that line from Nietzsche always come to mind when thinking about those times and I can tell you from experience what it feels like: ““Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
That research has also paid off in providing background for another as yet unfinished novel: The Man Who Escaped from Hell. I have about 80,000 words on that. That will take more revision than Shadows and Stars, but I can foresee finishing it now. It is another novel that I have had weighing on me for years and years, though not nearly as long as Shadows and Stars.
Anyway, I need to get at least a little sleep now. I have been writing this only because my insomnia has hit me tonight. I still don’t feel like sleeping, but I must.