Sunday, January 29, 2012

Guest Blog with Gregory Marshall Smith

What to Write, What to Write, What to Write...

It’s kind of ironic that I’m guest blogging for Wenona today. She is, after all, the write-at-home mom, which gave me pause with today’s writing subject.

What to write?

Sounds confusing, I know, but bear with me.

I believe all of us, to some degree, have a book, short story or poem just itching to be freed. The biggest headache is, as I said, what to write.

But, more often than not, another question rears its ugly head -- should I write it?

I have a good friend named C.J. Ellisson, who is currently writing the VV Inn series. So far, she’s penned Vampire Vacation and The Hunt, with a third book in the works. The story revolves around an age-old vampire named Vivian and her human husband, Rafe, who run a vacation inn out in the wilds of Alaska. As expected, the inn caters to vampires, though humans who are part of the vampires’ seethes or clans are also welcome.

After some issues, she began writing as a version of therapy. If you read her work, you’ll see the warning notice about intense sexuality. C.J. is a mom. It’s going to be a while before her kids will be mature enough to get through one of her books. She might have to pen a Disney script to compensate.

Would C.J. have benefited from waiting a few years until her kids were older or is a dream deferred a dream denied?

Sometimes, something needs to be written because no one will do it. Case in point is Father Andrew Greeley. Some of us remember the brouhaha that arose within the Catholic Church when Father Andrew Greeley began publishing a series of novels with titles like The Cardinal Sins and Lord of the Dance.

Greeley kept at it and also published a series of very informative non-fiction books that were widely acclaimed and well-received. The Catholic Church didn’t toss him out. He took a chance, but one based on faith. That allowed him to go one step further in 2004 with the novel The Priestly Sins. That one was a direct jab at the Catholic Church and its habit of reassigning pedophile priests rather than excommunicating them.

Should you have this desire to defy your character or the personality and reputation your friends and family know you for, you might try a pen name or pseudonym. Many times a pseudonym is used by writers to go outside of their traditional genre, like when Nora Roberts (nee Eleanor Marie Robertson) created J.D. Robb to pen romantic thrillers when her agent wanted her to stick to contemporary romance.

In our case, however, we must look at Marayat Andriane. She had this intense desire to write a certain kind of novel but one that would run afoul of family’s heavily conservative and Catholic values. In fact, this desire might have had the effect of ruining the family name.

Andriane is a retired actress best known for playing the naive bar hostess Mai Ling in the classic The Sand Pebbles with Steve McQueen, Mako, Candice Bergen and Sir Richard Attenborough.

However, Andriane is also Emmanuelle Arsan. Yes, that Emmanuelle, of the French soft-core erotic novels that became a bunch of cheesy movies with Sylvia Kristel. The first book, The Joys of A Woman, appeared in 1957 and was immediately banned in France. But, it was a smash hit and the subsequent film made from it has been seen by more than 300 million people. On stage, it ran in France for 11 years. To date, the book and movie have grossed about $650 million!

However, in 1957, when the book first came out, I can’t imagine sweet, innocent Marayat Andriane explaining it to her mother, much less just about all of her native Bangkok (which, in 1957, was not the raging sex capital it is now).

Personally, I don’t use a pen name, primarily because I’ve used my given name as my byline for the past 30 years. I may have extended it to first-middle-last because of other writers or actors with the same name, but then again, I haven’t written any work or done any movie so controversial that I didn’t want my name attached to it. I happen to think my work, including Hunters (my current novel about vampire hunters), Land of the Blind (due this winter) and others, can stand on its own. I just haven’t felt the need to inject controversy. That’s me, however, and my genres -- Golden Age science fiction and traditional horror -- tend to be more straightforward.

When and if you do finally put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards, be sure you want to write it and, very importantly, the implications.

That said, by all means write something. If it means using a pen name to avoid scandal or hurt feelings or awkward situations, my advice is to err on the side of caution.

Just write.

* * * * * * * *

By Gregory Marshall Smith

For centuries, vampires have owned the night. And in Fort Worth, Texas, master vampire, Louis Riordan, aims to keep it that way. With the help of Lin Tang, his lethal enforcer, he will unite sixteen of the continent’s top master vampires into the most powerful undead alliance the world has ever seen.

Rumors abound that Lin Tang’s most hated enemy, Cantrell Ryker, has returned from the grave and there are hunters in town, ready to take back the twilight. Vastly outnumbered and outgunned, with dissension in the ranks and a traitor in their midst, these hunters fight for humanity side by side. They now have a weapon that could turn the tide of the age-old war between man and vampire once and for all.

Author Bio

Gregory Marshall Smith, born in Somerville, Massachusetts and raised in historic Medford, is a decorated Navy veteran. Though sports writing is his profession, in his career, he has been, among other things, a national columnist, playwright, engineer, asset protection agent, editor, safety auditor, fingerprinter, training instructor and sometime actor (Heiju trilogy; Life As We Know It; The Odd Life of Timothy Green; Detroit 1-8-7; Contagion; Walker, Texas Ranger).

He is the author of the novellas Crawl and They Call the Wind Muryah, along with two anthologies (Dark Tidings Vol. I & II). He has had numerous award-winning short stories appear in Farspace 2, Writer’s Bump, Far Side of Midnight, Spectacular Speculations and SFH Dominion, among others. Hunters is his first full-length novel.

Ever restless, he currently resides somewhere in America.

No comments: