So! You’ve read The Crows, or you’re nearing the end, and you want to know what I’m writing next? OF COURSE YOU ARE. I find it hard to keep all my eggs from rolling out of their respective baskets so here’s a breakdown of the projects I’m working on and where they all are in terms of progress!
I’ve linked my wiki-esque pages (made with Notebook.ai) for each character, and if you’re not familiar with abbreviations used in this post (like POV, MC, etc), I’ve linked the definition too.
First, let’s start with how all these projects fit together.
Interlinking Stories: What’s The Connection?
The Crows introduces you to Pagham-on-Sea through the eyes of a Londoner and a couple of locals, and through them you learn about the town’s human and paranormal communities (although some don’t like the term ‘paranormal’ and consider it derogatory).
I consider this novel to be not just a standalone Gothic paranormal exploration of trauma, death, life, acceptance and obsession, but also as a starting point from which you can branch out and explore the whole world and all the other people in it. As a gateway to this ‘verse, I think it’s the right one for me to have opened with.
Stories set in the town, whether set in modern-day or at various points in history, will be loosely grouped within the ‘Pagham-on-Sea‘ umbrella. Other stories may feature characters who are connected with the town or otherwise exist in the same universe as the town, and these will fall under different ‘series’ links but might be connected up later.
Right then: where am I with all of this?? Read on…
Thirteenth: A Pendle Clan/Pagham-on-Sea Novel
Thirteenth, the next chronological novel after The Crows, is complete as a first draft at c.102k words (too long) and I need to think about revising it before beta stages.
CW// drugs and alcohol abuse, body horror, gore, mild self-harm and unhealthy coping behaviours.
Thirteenth is essentially the story of Katy Porter, the thirteenth child of a thirteenth child, who has a walk-on cameo in The Crows. It’s not YA (she’s the only teen character with a POV, the other two MCs are both aged 29), but it does follow her coming-of-age journey as she comes to terms with her development from a human-passing A-Level student into an eldritch abomination who preys exclusively on her own family, whether she wants to or not.
It’s also the story of her oldest brother, Wes Porter, another cameo character in The Crows, who has never really emotionally dealt with his particular eldritch aspect, and isn’t much of a fan of pushing thirty either. Wes has always believed that Katy will end up killing him for Reasons, but she’s still his baby sister, and when the rest of the clan plot to control and/or eliminate her, Wes has to pick a side.
Their cousin, Ricky Porter, is… predictably the antagonist, if only because his interpersonal skills leave a great deal to be desired, and his interference is both infuriating and essential to both Katy and Wes achieving their respective potential, no matter how many times they desperately want (and try) to kill him. Nobody as dangerous as Ricky Porter should also be that annoying.
If you’re up for beta-reading, drop me a comment or tweet to me @CMRosens – I’ll add you to my list! I am looking for 6-8 people, particularly bi/pan and polyam for the very messy chaotic disaster that is Wes Porter and his long-suffering, far better put-together partners. This one has been tough to write for various reasons so I need some space from it before I go back in.
If you’re signed up to Booksprout I’m using that for ARC copies of the ebook, as I did for The Crows. We’re a little way off that stage yet, but hopefully it will be out by the start of 2021, or in time for Christmas 2020.
Real Meat: A Meredith Blake/Pagham-on-Sea Novel
I want to develop my straight-to-Wattpad werewolf thriller, Real Meat, which is currently complete at c.71k words and free to read in its [unedited] first draft form.
In Real Meat, investigative journalist Meredith Blake is thrown into a conspiracy of silence as a young werewolf teen is found dead and elderly werewolves start going rogue. Has ‘real meat’ [people!] got into the food chain? What’s the connection to Kench Foods, the town’s major employer? With her investigations hampered by a mysterious blackmailer who seems only too aware of her struggles to control her own real meat addiction, Meredith starts to wonder if she’s being set up for a fall…
Meredith Blake is more or less a malignant narcissist with a human flesh (so-called ‘real meat’) addiction, who is only on the straight and narrow after being threatened with execution at a tribunal. She’s an intensely difficult character to write and the inside of her head is not a pretty place to be, so in the first draft she has a core of guilt that gives her something that’s at least semi-redeemable.
I will be rewriting huge chunks of this as it aligns with a very old first draft of The Crows but not at all with the new version.
Eldritch Girls Just Want To Have Fun: A Pendle Clan Novel
Sasha Shaw is a career-orientated, human-passing eldritch horror who genuinely sees killing people on stage/camera as the next boundary for performance art. She meets Tosh Haraldson, an increasingly erratic hitman from Chicago, who is in Brighton to find his missing sister, Raine. Tosh is obsessed with snuff and torture porn (part of the reason his sister doesn’t want to be found) and his growing obsession with Sasha starts to interfere with his focus. As far as his employer and Sasha’s monstrous gangster uncle is concerned, she’s off limits. However, the sexual tension is undeniable, and when they’re caught in a compromising position, the latest corpse they’re found with is the least of their worries.
Word count at time of this post is 36k words.
Sasha took on a life of her own thanks to Nita Pan‘s snippet of a story idea which I thought sounded perfect for her backstory but didn’t want to steal. So we’re co-writing it and having a great time! It has turned into a standalone, bouncy, bloody slasher-romance that riffs off both noir-thriller and contemporary romance tropes and translates them into a romance novel structure, set in Brighton in early 2016.
There is a single scene that takes place in Pagham-on-Sea, so it’s not quite a PoS novel, but we do get to visit the Sandbox Café again (as featured in The Crows).
The Wishing Well: A Pagham-on-Sea Novel
Eglantine “Egg” Pritchard and her life-partner and ‘companion’, Gwen Mostyn-Jenkins, have already thwarted one elder god apocalypse back in 1925, and now, under cover of the ‘War Effort’, it looks like they’ll have to thwart another one.
Wishing Well is set in Pagham-on-Sea in 1943 during the Second World War, and is both an origin story for the Porter branch of the Pendle Clan and a chance for me to finally give Eglantine Pritchard (the Welsh hedgewitch responsible for magically locking Ricky’s family out of The Crows) her own story.
This is a challenge to write because it’s historical fiction and requires a lot of research. It also features two characters in their 40s who have been together for about 25+ years at this point, and the dynamics of the relationship are already well-established, so we’re parachuting in to a stage of their lives when priorities are shifting and they are already dealing with life on the Home Front. Getting all of this right in the exploration writing is key, as is striking that ever-tricky show/tell balance.
Basically, it’s a fun paranormal romp with plucky evacuees, strange lights in the night, a wishing well that works (and the creature that lives there), and shadowy forces who will stop at nothing in their pursuit to control dangerous occult forces ‘for the War Effort’.
Aislynn (working title): A Pagham-on-Sea Novel
Aislynn O’Keefe has a rare sleep disorder and has learned to take control of the dreamworld. Her (divorced) mum Karen is her full-time carer, struggling to maintain their disability benefits with the support of her next door neighbour and potential love interest [40sF, unsure of name]. Aislynn’s older sister Jo is a legal administrator at a local solicitors’. Jo’s boyfriend, Charlie Prince, is the son of a local gangster. Aislynn has been killing men like Charlie’s dad in their dreams, and Charlie is trying to find out who is behind these brutal, mysterious murders before his dad is next.
There’s a lot going on in the initial outline but I’m not sure how it will pan out when I get started! I will need to do a LOT of research for this one, too.
Short Story Anthologies
I’m also teaming up with the mysterious [lol] Guillaume Velde to write two anthologies of short stories and flash fiction.
One anthology, All Fossils Are Official Secrets, is a Pagham-on-Sea anthology, and the other, The Carp Who Thought She Loved The Moon And Other Stories, is unrelated to the Paghamverse and is essentially a collection of whimsical fairy tales for sad people.
Here’s an unedited sample of Velde’s style, reproduced here with permission, which will preface The Carp collection:
Listen: a carp in a deep lake once thought she loved the moon, the dancing lines of light at night when the wind caught the surface. And one night she swam up to gape at the moon. But when she broke the surface all the shining lines just flowed over her, and she did not understand what she saw. And the real moon shone above, cold, distant and unlovely. So she dived, she dived again until she forgot, and the water was enough for her.
And the moon shone on.
All Fossils Are Official Secrets
I don’t want to give too much away about this collection, but here are some of the titles of the shorts going into this anthology, all of which are set in Pagham-on-Sea…
- All Fossils are Official Secrets
- Graveyard Shift at the Crazy Golf
- The Last Lighthouse Keeper
- The Punch and Judy Man (a sample of which is on my blog… it may be reproduced as is)
- The [Second] Battle of the Trees
- A Short History of the Shipwrecks
- Love Song to The Crows (which will be edited further)
…So my goals are to keep pecking away at these, basically, and to have made “tangible progress” on them. This may include research notes, outlines, and actual words/edits.
Let’s see how March 2020 goes.