Life is crazy. As of writing this, the United States sits on the precipice of widespread shutdown and has already enacted far-reaching initial quarantine measures due to the virus known as COVID-19. The stock market is down close to 30% in a little over a month. There seems to be a mass shortage of toilet paper (and not much else), and daily announcements about the temporary closure of bars, restaurants, and other businesses have become commonplace. The introverted segment of our population that love nothing more than to stay home and watch Netflix just gained millions of converts.
So, with that being said, this seems like the perfect time to pull a complete one-eighty and dive a little deeper into what I have in the works. It remains to be seen how the recession will affect publishing and the various facets of the system, but until anything concrete comes out I'm going to stay upbeat.
I've always been leery of being pigeonholed as a writer of a certain genre. He only writes thrillers...she only knows romance. There are some decided advantages to taking this route, the chief of which is that it makes it far simpler for an author to become known and respected in their field. Readers can peg the exact kind of story Dan Brown writes when they think of him, and Stephen King's name has become synonymous with horror (although he writes other genres, too). So, there's definitely value to be obtained by being perceived as a one-trick pony.
For better or worse, that just isn't me. I believe in embracing what you are, and what I am not is someone who will willingly consent to being metaphorically backed into a categorical corner if that's not what I'm trying to do. I've pivoted from mysteries to spy-ish thrillers to my latest completed project, Dark Satisfaction, which is more of a narrative travelogue told from the first-person with elements of suspense and southern gothic horror. And I'll undoubtedly pivot back through the subgenres I find compelling once again. At the end of the day, I strive to master every style I work with and put out the best finished product possible. It only makes things harder flitting among subgenres (or even larger divides), but that challenge is part of the fun.
Here's a quick overview of the first book I hope to get to market.
I accumulated ideas and experimented with how I wanted Dark Satisfaction to play out for five years before completing the first draft in a span of about four months. From 2001 until I left for college, I lived in Greenville, South Carolina, and went through a big chunk of my maturation (maybe less than I thought) there. It took me a while to realize that Greenville is a special place. Like John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I approach my former home from the lens of an outsider, leaning on characters and stories from my life to paint the vibrant backdrop of a southern city on the rise.
But not everything is wonderful. Not in the least. Dark Satisfaction touches on themes ranging from workplace harassment, to income and racial inequality, to religious persecution. The family that shows up in Greenville is by no means whole. And as they become anchored to a town they never in their wildest dreams saw themselves settling in, they realize that there is real danger amid the Main Street boutiques and plentiful restaurants.
I was fortunate to have an overwhelming amount of material for this book. One not-so-simple detail was borrowed from Guy Ritchie's film, Snatch. I came away from the movie enamored with how he was so expertly able to blend several seemingly unrelated storylines into one. They come together masterfully, and I decided to put my own spin on this technique in Dark Satisfaction. Where the story is going is never certain, but when it becomes clear I promise you won't have seen it coming.
Please comment and let me know what you think if you feel so inspired, or reach out at email@example.com. Likewise, if you have any questions about writing, the business side of storytelling, Life9, or any of my upcoming releases, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
- Charles Harned