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January 2016

Altered Carbon

I read yesterday that Richard K Morgan’s excellent novel, Altered Carbon, is being adapted into a series for Netflix.  This makes me very happy.

Altered Carbon is one of my favorite books.  Oddly enough, it was not another urban or contemporary fantasy novel that really inspired me to sit down and write A God for Thieves, it was Altered Carbon.  I’d like to think there’s a little bit of that neo-noir/cyberpunk aesthetic in my work, even if it’s only a tiny little bit of shared genes, like a how a dachshund proudly considers itself kin to a timber wolf.

I remember reading a while back that the movie rights for Altered Carbon had already been optioned, and though it excited me, I was concerned about how you would make it work at feature length.  Partly I wondered about casting.  If they wanted to do a sequel, how would they deal with the complete change of cast inherent in the whole body-swapping aspect of the Altered Carbon universe?  But I think a limited series is a much better fit for it.  Shows like True Detective have paved the way for a more anthology style program where a complete change in cast between seasons wouldn’t be as jarring.  That way they could move on to Broken Angels for season two with no worries.  (confidential to the producers of Altered Carbon: don’t chicken out.  Let the main character suddenly be black in the second season.  It’ll be fine.)

Of course, this is assuming they’re going to stretch the book to cover the full season, and not try to turn it into a procedural or something silly like that.  That would be a mistake.

Elisabeth and I were talking about it yesterday, and she was saying how she was never happy with novels being turned into movies, because they always had to cut so much out.  Novellas and short stories are easier to adapt without losing much.  A full series can also be awkward for a book, with the content being spread too thin.  But a limited series seems about like the perfect fit to me.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to seeing Takeshi Kovacs on my TV.

The Timeline

I started writing A God for Thieves in November of 2014.  No, that’s not true.  You could argue that I started writing it sometime in 2000.

A God for Thieves mines some characters and ideas for a webcomic that I started developing while still in high school.  I started producing it while at college and kept it up for a couple of years before moving on to another project.

That comic was significantly different from the book as it stands today.

My wife, Elisabeth, convinced me to read some urban fantasy after we first met.  Urban fantasy was a genre that I really hadn’t consumed much of outside of the Buffy/Angel-verse, which I’d actually come at backwards, watching Angel for a couple seasons before it dawned on me that maybe Buffy could be worth a look as well.  She handed me Moon Called, the first book in Patricia Briggs’ excellent Mercy Thompson series, which I would highly recommend to anyone new to the genre.  I quickly read the rest of them, and now, whenever a new book is released, Elisabeth and I fight over who gets to read it first.

Finding myself enjoying the genre so much, I started wondering what I could make in it.  And then I remembered a long abandoned webcomic, that although reminded me far too much of what I had yet to learn when I first made it, still had a lot of ideas that I liked and could use.  And so I began to write.

At first, the title on my Word document was ‘Urban fantasy thing’.  This fact isn’t important, I just find it kind of amusing.

I finished writing the book in May of 2015.  Then Elisabeth did her first edit pass on it.  And then I did my first revision on it.  Now she’s finishing up her second pass, and (rightly) yelling at me about the things I didn’t fix.  She’s actually sitting across from me, working on it right now.  The big difference is that where her first edit pass took most of the remaining part of last year, this one is looking to be finished in a matter of days.  Then I put my final polish on it and I think we’re good to go.  Oh, she literally just told me she’s done.  Ha ha!

Writing is like dancing through an alpine meadow, where every beautiful flower you see is a new and brilliant idea.  Revising is like stumbling into a field full of rabbit holes, and then it turns out a colony of bloodthirsty badgers have moved into the holes, and they think your brain looks yummy.  Or like a pretty girl badger.  Whichever is scarier.  But it turns out that some of those badgers are beautiful ideas in their own right, and you’re glad they came to attack your brain.  This metaphor probably got away from me a while back.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s now my turn to have a final go at the book, and then it’ll be done, and out there in the wild, and the crushing insecurity that defines all good authors will switch from ‘am I even capable of writing a novel’ to ‘will anyone even like it?’