Okay, a lot of you have been pinging me for updates on the audio release of C3, so I spoke recently with R.C. to confirm. The man has a stacked schedule, as you’re all, I’m sure, aware. Right now he’s wrapping up books for the Craigs; Mavericks for Alanson and Over the Hill for Dilouie. And as I know that a lot of my readers are just as excited about those other books, I don’t mind saying that waiting just a touch longer won’t kill us.
So, here we go. And C4 chugs along happily in editing – there should be no problem in having it ready to go when Bob is ready for it, so we can expect to see the final book in the series sometime around Christmas.
As a writer, they tell you not to read your reviews. Once your work gets some traction and a broader audience, what happens is people come across it that turn out to not like it. And they like to let you know, sometimes in perplexing ways. This is the internet, after all. Thankfully, I have yet to be sent a picture of a gaping anus.
I go through periods of reading my reviews and then stepping away from them, not so much because I can’t take the criticism but because when I start nearing the end of a current work in progress (as I am with Commune 4 right now), I tend to go into lurk mode and focus hard on the finish line. When the end is in sight, I start charging for the barn like a tired, old horse.
So yeah. Periods of reading reviews and periods of reading nothing at all. They tell you not to read them, mostly out of some fear that the budding author will see either criticism or praise for a given narrative “thingy” and start to second guess themselves regarding the direction of their story, especially if that direction is a bold departure.
Unless you’re a guy like me, and you tend to read the negative reviews for a laugh.
And I don’t mean the well thought-out critiques – those I read just to learn from. A well written, educated criticism is fucking gold if you have the brains to see it that way. Nah, I’m talking about the other stuff. You know what I mean. This is the internet, after all.
I never respond to this latter form of…oh, let’s call it feedback. Until now. But I’m not doing so for the person who left it – that would be a waste of both my time and the “critic’s”. Given the wording, I’m fairly certain my response would fall on deaf ears.
But I figure I’d better explain myself to you guys – the ones coming along for the ride, and enjoying yourselves along the way (thank you). Mostly, because there are no small amount of you who have pointed out explicitly that one of the things you’ve loved about these books thus far is the interview format in which they’re presented. That the first-person delivery allows you to feel as though your seeing the world through the characters’ eyes.
I’ll post an excerpt of the criticism to which I refer regarding Commune: Book Three here:
“For a series that’s supposed to be the history of a commune transcribed from interviews with it’s [SIC] members the switch to third person narrative was a terrible idea.“
Firstly, I can tell you guys that I, as the author of this series, was thoroughly astonished to learn that I had so totally misunderstood what these books were supposed to be. All I can really say is: where the hell was this guy to guide me when I was writing the damned thing? I feel like had I just had access to his clear expertise earlier in the process, we could have avoided this critical blunder; assuming, as I am, that he knows how the story is going to end, the overall plan, etc…
Joking aside, I don’t really care that this guy took issue with C3 – it seems he read the book and ended up with a sour face because he wanted more of book two. That’s cool. I’m glad he liked C2 and a little apologetic (but only barely) that the 3rd didn’t live up to his specific expectations.
But I did want to let the rest of you know what’s going on and why things have to shift the way they do. Yeah, the third book isn’t told in an interview format. It’s third-person, past tense all the way, with excerpts from Brian Chamber’s journals scattered throughout to kind of ween you folks off the old formula. There were a few reasons why it had to be this way, as I hope you’ll agree:
- Foremost, the world had to expand in this book. I needed to get into the concept of factions (large groups of people aligning against each other) and there really wasn’t any good way to stick to the first person narrative style while realizing this goal. I mean, I guess I could have done, but you would have been left with complete strangers just showing up out of nowhere with zero explanation, wondering why you should care at all about anything that happens to them. Lame. The third book jumps between several different geographic locations and, as the author, I needed a little more narrative freedom to shift from place to place and group to group. Trying to make this work while maintaining the interview format felt, to me, like those shaky-cam found footage movies. You always get to a point about halfway through where the heroes are running away from the monster or the asteroid or the ghost, or whatever the hell it is, and you begin to wonder, “Why the fuck is that guy still carrying the camera around?! Just drop the goddamned thing and run! Get the gun! Drop the camera and get the Christing gun!!!” Well, me maintaining the interview mechanic into the third book felt like the asshole holding onto the camera while the monster was busy eating me from the legs up. It’s kind of idiotic when you think about it. I had to drop the camera and run my ass off.
- Books One and Two happened in the past, so it made sense to do them in the manner I chose. Starting at book Three, things are happening NOW. This is the present. This was always the plan. The only way I could have made it more NOW would have been to write the story in present tense, which I goddamn refuse to do; I hate present tense narrative more than butt-chugging college douche-bags. Call it a personal taste. Like butt-chugging.
- And this is just a minor one, though still significant: you eagle-eyed so-and-sos were starting to use the mechanic to figure out who lives and who dies. Pretty simple: if a person has a POV chapter, they pretty obviously survived long enough to tell their story. Yeah, I’m on to you, buster. I’m not that bent out of shape over it but…sorry. You don’t have that hint anymore. All of the time spent with people sitting down with Brian and relating their tales? That’s in the past. That happened in the before. Nothing’s set in stone from this point forward. Buckle up.
So hopefully this will serve as a reasonable explanation as to why I’m shifting from a narrative style that so many of you seem to have fallen in love with. I get it, man, new shit is uncomfortable. But we have to go explore the new shit, guys, I’m sorry. If I keep doing the same old thing over and over again, this is going to get stale really fast. And then we’ll be here after the twenty third book or whatever, nothing at all will have been resolved within the story, and we’ll all be discussing how tired my writing has gotten and how things just feel like they’re drudging on with no end in sight.
Repetition is no good. The formulae that worked yesterday needs to be burned to the ground on the day after, such that you’ve good fertilizer for the new. It’s that or the story turns into that one joke you’ve heard for the fifteenth time, probably from a precocious kid who fucked up the punchline. We tell ourselves we want more of the same thing, but you know what happens when you actually get it?
Jaws 3D, man.
Well, now that C2 has been released on Audible, I have a ton of readers asking when C3 comes out on audio.
First off: thank you very much for your interest. It’s a great problem for a writer to have.
The best I have right now is that production for C3 is tentatively scheduled to start sometime later this year, probably around July or August. That’s really the best information I have right now. As you know, R. C. Bray’s schedule is somewhat akin to an exploding minefield…
In the meantime, I’m currently writing the 4th book and listening to the new Mountain Man Prequel by Keith C. Blackmore. If you haven’t picked that one up yet, just what the hell is wrong with you???
176K words. Now for the beta readers and the editing. What a freaking relief!
We’re 130K words into the book 3 manuscript, my lovelies. Now with the decision to split the final book into two novels, my adjusted best guess at word count is in the 160K-ish range, plus or minus. Those of you who know how I write are aware that a 5K word session is pretty easy to achieve without much effort, so…I’ll say that we’re pretty close on this project. So much so, in fact, that I’ve begun the process on the covers: ebook, print, and audio.
I’ll be sharing it with you all very soon 🙂
Book Three News!
This is a very fun time for me right now. I’m what I would estimate to be a quarter of the way through on the first draft for Commune: Book Three; at about 50K words. For the reference of those keeping score, Book One came in at 95.5K and Book Two was complete at 150K words.
I’m guessing that Book Three will wrap at around 200K or greater but it’s still early enough in the story right now that it’s hard to be accurate. It would make sense, though. The first book was a pretty simple affair. There were only three main characters with a couple of side characters thrown in along the way, so it makes sense that the story was fairly short.
In the second book, I found myself juggling no less than nineteen personalities. That kind of diversity takes a bit more space to explore, so yeah, another 60K words on top of the original is probably in order.
In book three, the scope is expanding yet again. Our characters have been living in this world for a while, now. There has been time to organize, time for folks to congeal together like little blood clots. We’re dealing with factions spread out over the different points of the compass. There are, of course, our band of heroes up in Wyoming but we also have the last known remnant of the United States Military to think about in the wastelands of Arizona, as well. Additionally, something ugly (potentially very ugly) looms out in the quiet state of Nevada…
This is the third and final book that I intend to write in this series, for the time being at least. I can offer that I see possibilities for more stories down the line but there are also some other ideas (other worlds) that I’d like to explore, and so I think I’ll take a bit of a break from the apocalypse after this one’s done…for a little while. I can tell you that this book, big #3, is the story that I originally set out to tell when I started writing these back in January of 2017, just before I realized I had a lot of world building to get out of the way. I’m glad I took this idea and broke it into three books. I feel like we both (me, the writer and you, the reader) had an opportunity to spread out in this story for a good while and really enjoy it.
Audio Book News
R. C. Bray is starting to pick up a lot of steam on production for BK#1 and I have to say, he’s knocking this sumbitch out of the park, as I knew he would. He’s delivered enough work for proofing now that I’ve had a chance to hear the three major characters that I created (Jake, Amanda, and Billy) out loud for the first time in my life. The experience is not only surreal – it is intensely rewarding to me as a writer. He’s bringing nuance to their delivery that I hadn’t even considered when I wrote them; providing a deeper, richer dimension just through his performance and how he’s interpreting what I’ve done.
The experience for me has been of such impact that I’m beginning to regard the simple text of these stories as pretty damned good (to toot my own horn) while the audio format is (at least by me) considered the ultimate expression of the material.
Bob, if you’re reading this: Nice work, dude.