Monday, March 04, 2013

My Dickens Challenge novel is almost here!

Back when I was a much more active blogger, I participated in The Dickens Challenge, begun by mystery writer Tim Hallinan, author of the acclaimed Poke Rafferty novels. The idea was to write a novel the way Dickens did—one chapter a week, with no going back and revising. It was a wonderful exercise, and I read some topnotch writing, including that of Tim himself. My own effort, initially titled Things Done and Left Undone, after more than several revisions, is under contract with Taylor Street Books of San Francisco, under the working title of See You in Chicago.

The idea for the book came as a result of a novel writing contest held by White Wolf Press,h was held to promote two of its popular role-playing games in the World of Darkness series. The vampire world was set in Chicago, so I came up with an idea for a novel that took place during the 1968 Democratic Convention. My novel proposal did not make the first cut, but I couldn't let go of the idea of a story set in the that time and place.

While I still wanted to do paranormal fiction, I was glad to abandon the vampires and set my book in the world of magic. And magical powers are very limited, in this world. As a journeyman mage says to the book's protagonist, “That's the trouble with magic, or maybe its saving grace. We're not gods, even though there are some in the trade who think they are. Sometimes I wish I had unlimited power, but I couldn't trust myself with it. Lord Acton was right: 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'”

The story is set in a dystopian 21st Century, in which the United States has become the fundamentalist Christian Republic of America, but through a complicated series of events, the scene shifts to Chicago, August, 1968.

The protagonist, Thomas Leirmont, an idealistic young reporter, falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious young woman, Helena McKechnie, whose mother was a Zoroastrian Parsi and a descendent of of the Persian magi. Thomas must face a test, and his enemies, aided by Asmodeus, Prince of Lust and King of the Seven Hells, are doing their best to see that he fails. But he has powerful allies in Helena, two journeyman wizards, and benevolent spirits from beyond the grave.

David Dellinger, Jean Genet, Allen Ginsberg, Dick Gregory, Hugh Hefner, Abbie Hoffman, Paul Krassner, Eugene McCarthy, Norman Mailer, Phil Ochs, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, Mary Travers, and Peter Yarrow make cameo appearances.

Once I know the book's publication date, I'll post it here.


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds very good! Congrats on that. Looking forward to hearing more!

Peter said...

That is so freaking exciting! Congratulations, Steve!

SzélsőFa said...

is that the same story you were publishing extracts from?
exciting news!