Sloan M Coll
My third novel completed, Itch, is my take on the vampire legends I have thoroughly perusing over the years.
Imagine, if you will, that instead of the nefarious creatures of the night, vampires are simply another step in the human evolutionary process, fighting to exist amidst fear, prejudice and a continual threat of great violence. Caught in a labyrinth between misty legend and harsh reality, they stumble their way to truth. all the while struggling to maintain a stranglehold on existence. Nevil Shute's rabbits were the last to succumb to nuclear fallout in On The Beach, and rumor has it the cockroach has become all but indestructible. Unlike those members of the animal kingdom, humans have the capacity to recognize a monumental change when it bites them, and understand the absolute necessity of quickly honing their survival skills in preparation for whatever may come.
My shortest novel to date, at approximately 73,000 words, Itch reinvents the legend while retaining the requisite blood sucking, a modicum of mayhem, and a rather satisfying dose of murder.
The first of my novels to take shape, Sins was the result of late night insomnia musings on how I would do things if I were writing a daytime serial. It also taught me the wisdom of having pen and notepad bedside - along with a reliable nightlight - to capture ideas that seem to evaporate with the dawn if they are not immediately committed to paper.
As such it has evolved into a mix of romance, psycho-drama and tragedy, incorporating heroes, villains, star-crossed lovers, stereotypes, convenient coincidences, and a powerful exploration of what can happen when someone becomes so obsessed with revenge it overshadows everything they do. If I had to choose a tag line, it would be "Have you any idea how much hatred is generated by the friction of a breaking heart?"
During the development of the story I came to understand what it means to be character, rather than plot, driven. In this novel, as in Itch and Bitter Glass (my third completed piece) my characters seem to take on a life of their own and, in large part, direct me on how their story is to be told, where it will go, and how it will end. Sins contains, so far, the furthest I have ventured into erotic content - this, too, seems to be dictated by my beloved cast of characters as they take on form and dimension. They taught me to be comfortable with what I am writing and to not write it at all if I can not be.
My first foray into writing fiction, this story was inspired by a poem, a painting, and a song. The song, Ce He Mise Le Uliangt? The Two Trees, by Loreena McKennitt led me to Yeats' poem, The Two Trees, from which the line, "Gaze no more in the bitter glass, or only gaze a little while..." gave a fitting name (and mood) to my novel. The painting (which I nicknamed The Two of Cups in the novel because of its close similarity to the Tarot Card, Two of Cups) is quite beautiful and hangs on the wall in my workroom. Its real name is Armor Moon and was painted by artist Oana Lauric. It can be seen on her website, artoujours.com. The section in Bitter Glass where my main character finds the canvas at an art show is a recreation of my discovery of it at a sidewalk art show one August morning, in Bangor, Maine and my purchase of it a year later.
Bitter Glass deals with choices, disappointment, reclamation and consequences - not only those which can be easily seen in everyday life, but the unexpected influence each new decision has upon us and how we cope with them. It was while writing Bitter Glass that I experienced the shock of discovering my characters were participating in their own development. A male character intended to be peripheral became a major character, which, of course, changed many of the ways I had thought my heroine would develop. Backstories popped into life, minor characters revealed new depth, and even the ending changed no less than five times before we were all satisfied that we had not descended into cliche. By the time we were all done, it had been one hell of a rollercoaster ride!
This novel, which started with a sentence, then a paragraph, then a page has fluctuated from 83,000 words to 143,000 and is currently at 123,000; but I am not done yet - something new has occurred to me and it is currently in revision.
3/10/2K12: Revision is a wonderful exercise! Only 6 chapters in and I am amazed at how much I have grown as a writer since the last time I reviewed this piece. Already, the revamped chapters flow better than before and I have finally seemed to conquer my old demon - excessive exposition. Whether it is from more faith in the reader or in myself, I like this new development.