The Novel of the Damned that I’ve been working on for ten years and still have not finished, as many of y’all know, is called The Black Ribbon, and it’s a Victorian vampire slightly-steampunk, slightly alternate history suspense thing. (TEN YEARS, I SWEAR TO GOD. Every bandwagon you can think of has come and gone and possibly come ‘round again, it’s taken me so long. I posted some really
terrible rough chapters back in 2003, back when I thought I’d just dash it off as a Halloween serial in five chapters and really broad strokes, which is how some of y’all know about it.) The premise is revealed a bit slowly in the book itself, but it’ll probably come out in the marketing some far future day from now, so why not: it’s basically about West, a vampire hunter/mercenary hired to kill everything in sight, and Rose (Rose Hannah in the original version), a young doctor who is, uh, extremely motivated to look for a cure instead. Essentially: he’s a hunter, she’s infected, slow-burn Victorian romance, THEY FIGHT VAMPIRES. I’ll be honest, one of my inspirations for Rose was Mina Harker, since I was sort of obsessed with an illustrated edition of Dracula as a kid, and I was always impressed by the way all of these men rallied around her and depended on her emotionally and she was the one who compiled all their research and she was the one who had the train timetables memorized and she was kind of the actual most capable person in the entire book (Lolcat Van Helsing aside). So Rose was partly born out of the idea of, what if Mina was a doctor and could research saving her own damn self?
Also, there are inventors and magicians and scientists and tigers (okay, just one tiger) and a chapter about Jack the Ripper, because go hard or go home, I always say.
I’m trying so hard to finish it, but it’s taken me so long that I keep outgrowing what I’ve already written, like a little kid in a growth spurt. I’m talking about plot here, not even writing style on a sentence-by-sentence level; I just came up with a character who solves so many story problems two weeks ago. And I’ve worked on creating diverse characters in a Victorian context (different sexualities, ethnicities, class backgrounds, ages, and tons of women because that’s who I like to write anyway), but I’m terrified I’m Doing It Wrong. I want to finish the book but I’m so, so scared, is the complete-honest bottom line.
Anyway. In the interest of getting some of the characters and universe out there, I’ve agreed to write a story for the Athena’s Daughters anthology. That is the big announcement here; that’s what my author bio was for.
My story will be set before the timeline of the novel: Rose telling a ghost story that happened to her mother, to give you a look at both Rose and someone who’s important to her, and a little glimpse of some of the friends who appear in the book as well. There’s going to be a Kickstarter for the anthology later this year; my deadline for the story is November 1st, which is the unspecified project/deadline I mentioned before. Seriously, prayer circle for me finishing this, you guys.
(I am fortunate as hell that the NBC Dracula recapping will only overlap with this a little bit. Also, you now maybe see that I’m coming to the recap table with a… distinct perspective, let’s say.)
I’ve also agreed to write a second, non-Black Ribbon story for something else, but I’ll talk about that tomorrow.