“Why so long?”
That is a frequent question I get about the wait between titles, particularly with my “Black Sheep” series. Some note that I might have two or three other books between each Parno novel, and that is true.
To breakdown how that comes to be, first you have to realize the scope and size of the Black Sheep universe. To quote my nephew, “it has a lot of moving parts”. I like that analogy and have used it often since he said it, because it’s true. There are far more characters in Parno’s world than in say the “Fire” or “Stormcrow” worlds. I should say recurring characters rather than just blanket characters perhaps, but either way it is still accurate.
The truth is that it takes me a good while just to make sure that I haven’t written a character in Parno ‘out of character’, and to make sure that I don’t write something that invalidates something I wrote in an earlier novel. Another reason is that Parno novels tend to be anywhere from half-again larger to twice as large as most of my other works, word count wise. I think every Parno novel has weighed in at over 150k words, whereas most of my other works usually run about 90k, give or take.
Why is it that way? Mostly because it takes that many more words to tell the same amount of story. Because the scope is so much larger and there are so many more characters, it takes a lot more book to cover roughly the same amount of ground. The “Fire” series for instance is kept deliberately limited because it’s meant to be oriented only around the Sanders family and their struggle with the PAW world they live in. I don’t delve into anything else or try to show what may or may not be happening anywhere other than in their immediate area. They are isolated and trying to remain so.
Parno on the other hand is way more massive in size, encompassing almost all of what had once been the Southeastern United States as well as other areas of the eastern part of the country. It deals with governments as well as individuals and includes political realities of their world as well as military issues and personal lives of the characters. Many, many characters.
I tend to work on more than one project at the time as well. I might work half the day on a “Fire” novel, then stop and change to working on a Parno novel, or perhaps a Stormcrow novel, or one of a few other projects I’m trying to make work. If I get on a real roll with one project or another and things are starting to really fall into place, then I stay with that project for as long as that ‘roll’ lasts, which could be a day, two days, or a week. Sometimes I’m blocked on a project and just have to set it aside while I work through that block. Meanwhile I can work on something else.
Such was the case with “Parno’s Peril”. I knew how I wanted the first third or so to read, I knew how I wanted it to end, at least more or less, but connecting the two became an issue. I wrote no telling how many pages that were ultimately deleted because they just felt off. Clunky if you will. No flow, hard to read and uncomfortable. If they read that way for me and I’m the writer, then I have to believe they ‘ll read that way for the my readers as well, and I just don’t want that. Above all else I want people to enjoy reading my works. I’m not usually trying to highlight any particular social issue or political issue or anything else really. I’m just trying to tell a good story that is believable, readable, and above all else enjoyable. At the end of the day if I haven’t entertained the reader, then I failed at my job.
I try to attain realism in all things. I remember that some people felt like Billy Todd showed people having a little too much good luck finding things, but reminded them that over 96% of the world’s population had perished in “Odd Billy Todd”. Of course they’d have ‘luck’ finding things since there weren’t that many people left to compete with.
In Parno, it takes time for a rider on a horse to ride from say Jackson, Tennessee to Nashville. It takes more time to ride from Jackson, Mississippi to Atlanta Georgia. Weeks in fact. So, the story had to cover a lot of time as well as territory. And news travels at the speed of horse, too. What happens on the battlefield won’t be known in the Royal City for days, three at least usually.
It takes a good deal of study and research to write realistic scenarios, and I am an army of one so to speak, so when I’m researching, I’m not writing. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that writing isn’t work, because if you’re intending to tell a good, accurate and believable story then you’re going to have to put in some work, never doubt.
So yes, sometimes it takes me a while to get something done. I wish, sincerely, that I could do it faster, but if I work too fast, then it becomes sloppy, clunky and hard to read. The last thing I want, ever, in my work.
Finally, the truth is that writing a completed “Parno” novel is often exhausting. I slept over twelve hours the day after I delivered “Parno’s Peril” to the publisher, lol. You’d think that sitting in front of computer and writing wouldn’t tire you out, but you’d be wrong. It amazes me even now how tired I can get ‘working’ on a book, lol.
So, that’s a rather simplified look at how I try to work, as well as some of the reasons why writing a “Parno” novel takes longer than my other books. It’s honestly just much more difficult to do. But I enjoy it even so, thus I keep doing it. It doesn’t hurt that people who like what I do tell me that. I always enjoy hearing from people who have read my work and have something to say. Every few days I try to take the time to check here and on my FB page and reply to whatever messages I have been sent so if you want to ask me a question or make a comment, please don’t hesitate to do just that!