Tag Archives: Jesus Diaz

This Plague of Days: How long does it take to destroy the world? (Q & A Part 5)

If you’re out to destroy the world, it starts with trying to save it. Right now, frozen in the refrigerated vaults, are enough nerve toxins, viruses and bacilli to kill us all and make way for the rise of the insects. We keep this stuff around for research purposes, or in some cases, nefarious purposes. We hope they (whoever “they” are) have that stuff locked down, just like the brainiacs and experts were so sure Fukishima would be safe forever.

But we know concrete doesn’t hold forever. If it did, nuclear waste disposal wouldn’t be such a worry. Terrorists are mostly idiots, but with the explosion of earth’s population, we slowly get more geniuses and a few will be evil geniuses. Even if you trust your government, do you trust the construction specs on a biological weapons vault in Pakistan, India, Russia or insert your choice of any nation here?

Mistakes happen. Back up systems fail, as they did in Three Mile Island, Fukishima and Chernobyl and 9/11. Involve a human, and eventually something will mess up. Entropy is a law and it is certain. The Way of Things always wins.

Not scared yet? If you aren’t concerned, my friends and fiends, I don’t understand why not.

How long did it take you to destroy the world, Chazz?

A few seconds of a few mistakes lined up in a row and viruses will eat us from the inside, rotting out. But writing it? Writing takes longer.

I wrote the first incarnation of This Plague of Days working three or four hours a day over ten or eleven months, falling mostly in 2010. The second draft took another four months and getting Season One and Two prepped for publication added another three months or so. It started out as such a contemplative novel. When I decided that could never sell, I made it less Canadian.

I had planned to write another crime novel instead of This Plague of Days. Deeper Than Jesus will be my third novel about my luckless Cuban hit man, Jesus Diaz. However, when I realized I was writing a funny, dark, kick-ass story in a low-demand genre, I went back to killer viruses and confronting mortality. Running out of time and money before I had to return to my old job, I was determined to write something somebody would really care about. The people who love Jesus (Diaz) love him a lot, but there aren’t enough of them yet.

I love writing full-time. I’ve had a very productive two years devoted exclusively to writing and podcasts.

My new business should still allow me writing time. I’m determined to make my new schedule work. In a few weeks, I’ll be back working in the same office I worked in fourteen years ago. In some ways, it feels like moving backwards, but I’ve got kids. We do what we must and, though physically taxing, it’s not a bad job (more on that another time). 

This Plague of Days is really taking off and I’ve sold more books in the last ten days than I’ve sold in two years. (Thank you, Plague lovers!) That sounds great, but I have to make up for two years of not working at all and never getting ahead. I’m not complaining, but I am being real. I have many more books to write. To do that, I have to keep the lights on. Most writers have day jobs and I’m thankful for my opportunities. Without the specific skill sets I have, I don’t know what I’d do for a living. I’m otherwise unemployable, chronically underemployed and I’ve got way too much sass in me to endure a boss (or for them to tolerate me.) I pretty much have to work for myself. While the control freak in me insists on excellence and piece work, the real world keeps sending me bills for the Internet connection.

This next evolution is going to be an interesting experiment. 

Just like what I did with my Cuban hit man and with zombies, I’m taking a familiar model and doing something new and different with it. It’s exciting and stressful and draining and energizing, depending on the time of day and what I’m thinking about.

We do what we have to do, but whatever you do, please keep the creativity in.

Find ways to make it interesting and fun. If you work on the line, sing. If you’re on the drive-through window wearing a hairnet, be funny and entertain co-workers and customers alike. If you can’t lose the job but your boss insists you be a drone, act the part. Play the role. The boss will never know you’re giving him respect ironically. Be the robot on the outside. Inside your skull no one owns you. Inside, we are all free.

We are sharks. We move forward or we die. Don’t die. I need the readers.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. Check out my podcasts and buy the books at AllThatChazz.com. Episode 2 of Season 2 drops Monday, or just get Season One and Two and bang, you’re watching the end of the world through an autistic boy’s eyes.

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Writing Against the Grain: B Movies. A Treatments and the Deceptive Familiar

I just received another happy review of Season One of This Plague of Days! (Dance of Joy ensues. Look away!)

On Writing TPOD

TPOD season 1 ecoverYou know, I made some artistic choices with TPOD that challenge the genre. For instance, the zombies don’t show up immediately. The hero is an autistic boy. I show the beginning of the crisis and how it evolves instead of waking someone up from a coma after civilization falls (a la Walking Dead and 28 Days Later.)

I’m pleased to report those gambles are paying off. (Great new reviews in the UK, too!) I’m getting extra points for doing something different. I wanted to give what some think of as a B movie idea an A treatment. I have a hero who is more in his world than ours. While things fall apart for his family, he’s obsessed with words, their meanings and roots and Latin phrases. It doesn’t sound very sexy in a submission letter to an agent, does it? However, horror fans are flexible readers who want to see something familiar made unfamiliar. To an agent, unfamiliar is not good at all. Readers are more forgiving because there are too many books out there that are clones of other books.

On Writing the Hit Man Series

When I wrote Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus, I ran into the same…problems? Opportunities? Challenges? I have an anti-authoritarian streak so I set myself up to fail and wrote the books I wanted to read instead of what an agent might get excited about. Don’t get me wrong, there are many very well-written hardboiled books out there. However, I pushed the boundaries and conventions of the genre with Jesus Diaz. I also tell the Hit Man Series stories in present tense and in second person. (AKA Agent Repellant.)

But there’s more. I made a hit man loveable and pitiable. I love the character of Dexter, though Jesus Diaz isn’t a psychopath in the same way at all. Unlike Dexter, Jesus Diaz is crushed by his regrets and guilt. I made my anti-hero the funny hit man with Chili Palmer overtones, a horrific childhood and the gift of gab. He’s made a more complex character due to a neurosis around women. He blames circumstances for his problems, but really the poisoned root of his abuse as a child informs the character and so the story. You won’t find another hardboiled hero who is afraid of women, but Jesus really is afraid.

Mr. Diaz just tapped me on the shoulder with the muzzle of his Sig Sauer to inform me I should change that from afraid of women to “worshipful”. I told him to buzz off. Kill me and he won’t see himself in the third and fourth novels of the series. He’s sulking in the corner, pretending to play Angry Birds on my iPod.

Books and their shelves

Bigger_Than_Jesus_Cover_for_KindleBigger Than and Higher Than are unusual novels that defy convention so hard, I’m not even sure they are properly called hardboiled. Maybe they’re action adventure or, despite the childhood sexual abuse, their also damn funny. It’s a rich palette, I guess. Agents hate that in genre novels.

Some so-called experts would suggest I’m making stupid choices. Maybe so. I’m singing “I gotta be me” while yanking the wheel and steering hard toward the ditch with the blinking warning sign that reads: Obviously Non-commercial!

I felt self-conscious about those gambles. Those choices are just as much about me as anything. See, I write for me. Readers come later. Sorry, but it’s true. That’s selfish considering I’m trying to contribute to the family budget with my writing instead of sucking it dry.

And then I read Stephen King’s Joyland yesterday.

Oh my god! It’s coming-of-age and funny. It’s Summer of ’42. It’s so damn charming it doesn’t even need the murder mystery. In fact, though it has a climactic scene worthy of JoylandHitchcock, I really would have loved it just as much without the mystery and the ghost story.

Traditional publishing didn’t know what to do with Stephen King. Even though the cover is terrific, the book is packaged as if Joyland is a hardboiled mystery. I don’t think it is. I think it’s good, easy storytelling that rolls along and you’ll be sorry the ride ever stops. It’s also high literature in a cloak that could appeal to anyone no matter how it’s classified or what shelf it’s on. 

I hope you’ll feel the same about my books because no matter what I do, that defiant streak is a mile wide and made of granite and diamonds. Some things I can’t change so I hope you like the view from my ride. 

And, not for nothing, thanks for the nice reviews, folks. I’m not for everyone but when those who get it leave a happy review, I push the accelerator harder and sing louder for our little club who are in the know.

Sure, I might hit the ditch, but we’ll go down screaming and laughing and grokking what it all means in the end. Let’s all grit our teeth and dare to be what we are while we can.


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