Allow me to explain my work in progress, Mexican Ninjas Ate My Balls

Hello, stalwart readers. I have published a couple of books on my own–the thriller Ain’t That America, the literary-historical fantasy Darwin’s Dreams, and the outré whatever-the-opposite-of-a-success-is story collection, Inappropriate Behavior. Those of you without lives of your own may recall the book that was picked up by Permuted Press (motto: “Enjoy the Apocalypse”) and led to my 10-book contract with them, Deadtown Abbey.

But now we’ve gone beyond the mire of self-publishing and into the real thing, publication for money and all the attendant fame that comes with selling more than 45 copies of your work during your lifetime.

Empty conference room

At a reading, sometimes you want to allow an extra five minutes for any stragglers.

The first and second books for Permuted, Deadtown Abbey and the initial entry in the Reviva Las Vegas! trilogy, Dead Man’s Hand, have been delivered and should come out in early- to mid-2015. The next book due for my beloved publisher is the first volume of what I had initially called World War Cthulhu but now must call something else because there are already two books with that title out in the world. It must be delivered by the end of October 2014. No sweat!

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Okay, maybe a little.

In any case, I have decided that, since Stephen King says, “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season,” I will spend three of the four months between the delivery dates of each book for the Permuted contract writing said book. (My first drafts don’t take three months, so I include my own editing and rewriting in that time.) That leaves me with a month to do what I want! As long as it doesn’t require any money! And what I want to do which doesn’t require any money is write a bizarro novel. Actually, since the maximum words the greatest bizarro publisher, Eraserhead Press, wants for its books is 30,000 words — these books are meant to be devoured like salted peanuts and are just as delicious — it’s more of a novella. There’s plenty of time to write, edit, and rewrite one of those in 31 days!

Mark-Twain-001

“Dafuq did you say?”

Actually, because bizarro books, while they can be just as erudite and well-constructed as any other fiction, are often times meant just to be a blast of entertaining prose, writing them can be the most fun an author can have. The main, even only, rule is: Be entertaining.

Not as easy as it sounds. In fact, I have learned that every part of writing a (good) bizarro novel isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because I worked with an editor at Eraserhead to help decide what story idea of the many that I had would be best suited for them, I was able to see his mind at work. Together we shaped a kind of nebulous idea I had about what happens when a macho gang member gets his testicles cut off into something that someone might actually, y’know, want to read.

My original title for this? Orchids Are Weeds. (See, because “orchids” are how cojones are scientifically referred to, and orchids are plants and “weeds” are plants people want to get rid of, right, so the “orchids” being removed comes to be seen as a good thing. BOOM: Orchids Are Weeds.) So literary, so deep! So not a title that would make even one person pick up this book!

isaac-newton

“I see, orchids for testes. How very droll. Yeah, think I’m gonna pass.”

So in trying to come up with ideas for a title, I mentioned that in the plot we had worked out (or that I had worked out by continually bombarding the poor man until he said yes just to make me stop) had a corps of “ninjas” who became obsessed with castrating people. Since literally any string of random letters would be a more marketable title than Orchids Are Weeds, we tossed some ideas back and forth like Castrating Ninjas Must Die and my editor’s favorite, Ninjas Ate My Balls. I liked the title because it was crazy fun, and then my editor reminded me–very sensibly, I might add–that if we went with this title there would have to be a scene in the book in which ninjas actually eat someone’s balls.

Portland_Ninja_Plate_Lunch

The texture is like Spam, but with less hair.

So I started writing this book, this now-entertainingly titled Ninjas Ate My Balls, and found myself writing about a Latino man living in an unnamed but pretty obviously Japanese city that rhymes with “Oakio.” Then, as I wrote, this disconnect between cultures became more and more of the basis of the story. So ultimately I had to–had to–change the title to Mexican Ninjas Ate My Balls. I love this title. It’s stupid and it’s funny and I think it makes you want to pick up the book and see what the hell is going on. Remember, Eraserhead Press is the home of Carlton Mellick III, the man who put bizarro on the map with books such as Satan BurgerThe Haunted Vagina, and Cuddly Holocaust. He has put out 44 books, all with psychotic premises that actually investigate the human condition as incisively as anything written by a New York Times bestselling author.

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He’s also less weird-looking than Joyce Carol Oates.

So, by the end of July (or maybe like August 2) the book will be ready to send off to my bizarro publisher for its debut at BizarroCon 2014 in November. Then I begin the Cthulhu novel. Let us pray.

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