It was my original intention to offer you all a-never-written-before insight on the creative process which led to the writing of The Clayton Chronicles, my fourth book. But as my personal deadline was drawing close on it, nothing new came to me.
Why? Because I wrote all about it in the preface of the book itself… and there was nothing that could really be added to it and, in spite of all my attempts, I found myself incapable to rewrite it in a better way.
Since I know you won’t bother with grabbing a copy to read all about it, I decided to perform a straight lift job out of the preface (of course, editing out some comments that aren’t too nice to put online), and here’s the complete creative process that led to the creation of the two novelettes included within this book:
“In Caracas, Venezuela, my home city, they used to cut-off Boyaca Avenue during Sunday mornings from the main traffic grid, blockading it so bike riders, skaters and people could leisurely use it as an entertainment outlet. Considering how stressful Caracas is, with a murder rate nearly four times worse than Manhattan (with one-third of the population), this is certainly one of the brightest ideas the dimwitted morons in charge of my country’s government could have ever devised.
“One Sunday morning, I was riding on my eight-speed bike along Boyaca Avenue, enjoying the view. Since Boyaca is a four-lane concrete strip (two going west, two going east, duh!) that skirts along the foothills of the Avila, one of our main National Parks, and it sits a hundred meters well above the tallest building in the city, the view of Caracas was breathtaking. Birds were chirping and a slight mist had risen and was hazing the horizon.
There was someone riding along with me; it doesn’t matter now who it was, the guy in question showed his true colors years later, as he was a treacherous bastard and he still is, so let’s not bother unduly about his identity.
This traitorous S.O.B. made an off-hand comment about The Blob and an assorted line up of old movies of the 50’s (most of them of the American-International crop), and I was frankly amused at his total ignorance on the subject. He got all the plots wrong and some even mixed-up, but it was funny to hear him rambling in his blissful stupidity. Then it struck me that the sheriffs in all those movies were always the skeptic link in many of those tales, who are true unbelievers when the teenaged kids storm his office, trying to warn him of the impending danger after the monster/vampire/outer-space creature (take your pick) shows up during the final half of the first reel or the beginning of the second.
I made a comment to this certified moron/asshole/creep (make your pick) on how funny it would be if there was a major reversal of the roles, and the sheriff was the one who was the true believer (My writer’s mind at work) . He received the notion enthusiastically, and he started swinging the idea back at me with his opinions and suggestions. Now, if this had been a tennis match, you could say that I was practically serving him nice clean shots with the deadly precision that my writer’s mind was capable of at the time… while he was shoddily tossing them back in childish rebounds… with the ball covered with the slime of his thoughts, thinking himself clever enough to be providing me with ideas.
Well, eventually the day’s ride was over and I went back home with an idea bouncing inside my head. I guess that by the end of the day this jackass only had the foggiest notion about what we had talked about during the bike ride, and he probably forgot all about it by Monday, but let me tell you that I didn’t forget. I wrote down that strong central image of the monster-believing sheriff (after polishing it with the mind equivalent of a Brillo pad: that guy’s scummy notions were like wet clay; they really stuck to my lovely mental tennis ball), and stashed it into my idea file. Just as plain and easy as that—I wrote a yellow Post-it note with those words scribbled on it: Monster-believing sheriff.
Weeks later I unearthed my idea’s file and went through it. I usually leave stuff there to molder: sometimes they just self-destruct (what the hell was this idea of a gargantuan-lizard opening a deli shop? Huh?) but if the concept is very strong and truly good, they sparkle as well as a rare jewel, even after months of storage.
The Post-it note no longer stuck to anything; its halfway-sticky glue had dried out and was no longer clear and translucent: it was as gray and dusty as a recently unburied mummy, but the idea jotted on it still shone.
I set down to write the screenplays (which was fairly decent, as these sort of things go), adding to my believing-sheriff a vampire buddy of sorts, creating the troubled small town of Nosfort and the strange happenings that occur there, and in the end there were plenty of ideas left over for a sequel. So I practically wrote a movie and its sequel, one right after the heels of the other.
Now, my love/hate relationship with Hollywood is something I don’t really like to publicize, but a small studio optioned the first screenplay. Regrettably, these dudes let a year pass by and the option wasn’t renewed; any further inquiries about the whereabouts of this particular group of filmmakers yielded no results; it was as if a voracious creature of another galaxy had swallowed them up (and considering the sort of beast that Hollywood is, I’m seriously considering that this may have been the case: don’t worry, I cashed the optioning check, heh-heh)
I also wrote a few short stories about Sherwin Williams and Clayton Harris, some more about the town itself, Nosfort, and some bizarre things that had occasionally happened to its inhabitants. And one final Sherwin Williams, story, that wraps up the entire story arc that includes A.I. Rebellion and the A Timed Mess books I never got around to write. Years later, an event that I tell about in the aforementioned preface in Cuentos, forced me to stash the scripts back in my Writer’s Trunk. (Sigh)”
Well, that’s about all I want to quote from one of my books and myself, even if it’s only a clarifying preface. The screenplays never made it into movies (which would have been great and silly funny vampire movies; these tales are basically satires of vampire stories… If I had my choice of actors, Will Smith would have played a terrific film version of my Vampire Overlord, Williams) and then they moldered in my Fabled Writer’s Trunk for another twenty years. Then, one day, I read a online review for Cuentos, which stated that it would be great to read more stories about my Sheriff/Vampire Overlord Duo.., and that got my mind running into overdrive. I dusted of the forgotten screenplay (ONE; the other was lost in time and space due a terrible home move) and practically wrote the entire book from the script and adding some extra details and stuff… in ten days flat…. At the incredibly mad pace of nearly 6,000 words each day.
Then I slapped the whole thing together… and maybe sold six copies in all… Ah, Welladay.