Hello, all. I was contemplating calling this “My Silence”, because it’s true I’ve been silent for a long while, and it’s time to break that silence. Which I’m doing now. With this little missive, which is titled “I Travel By Night”.
Confused yet? Hang on, it gets better.
I recently finished a novella for Subterranean Press titled I TRAVEL BY NIGHT, which I think will be out next May or so. It’s set in the 1880s and is about a gunslinger/vampire/adventurer who seeks to reverse his state of vampirism and rejoin the human race. How he can do this is—at least in my mythology—to drink the “ichor” from the vampire who “turned” him. This creature being a beautiful woman called LaRouge, and protected by the Dark Society of vampires and shapeshifters who populate the underworld around her. A difficult task for my hero…and maybe an impossible one, at this stage of his search. So we’ll see where his story may go from this hard-fought and darkly-tainted tale.
The truth is, I do travel by night.
I believe most already know I do my writing at night, starting around ten o’clock or so and going until I’m “done” for the night, or for the early morning for that matter. Why is this? I’ve always had a fascination with the night. As a kid I listened to radio (dating myself here) late until the small hours, hearing the distant voices slip in and out as I roamed the airwaves. Later, I got airline schedules from the Birmingham airport and when the night flights passed over my house I could tell where they were going. Funny…there were more night flights then than there are now. Something has slipped…has regressed…and I’m not quite sure what it is.
But the night remains constant. A comfortable darkness, for me. A satisfying solitude. A time when I can travel, unfettered by daylight and the cares of the daytime world, into whatever world I choose to create. The night, for me, has always been about creation. Or exploration, going inward across a land best travelled by night, because the silence has always called me to go seeking what I do not yet know I am searching for.
I have had a difficult year. More than that, I can’t say. I will say, in passing, that the life of a writer can be harrowing. It demands. It does not rest. It burns very hot, and that fire can easily destroy as well as create.
I will quote here a line I found that may be of interest. It’s from the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. And it is: “What gives light must endure burning”.
And another, also from Viktor Frankl: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.
Both of those quotes have great relevance and meaning to me. I have always had great hope that my work would “give light”, but producing it—keeping it whole and true—has burned me, and continues to burn. And the second quote…there are many situations in my life I cannot change, and thus I am challenged to change myself. I hope I can rise to this challenge, because it’s a vitally important one.
Now…the kinda confusing part…
I started work on my big science-fiction horror novel and decided I wasn’t ready to do it justice. So I put it aside to work on I TRAVEL BY NIGHT. Then I needed an “up”, and for me Matthew always does that. He brings me great joy, and I have such a good time living in that world and playing with the language. Okay. So I did about fifty pages of the next Matthew when the science-fiction horror novel began to call to me again, and this fits into my schedule of doing a “Matthew book” and then a “contemporary novel”. So I am back working steadily on that, which means there may be a little while before the next Matthew book sees the light of day.
I have an idea that may allow me to finish both books by next summer. I’m not promising, and the next Matthew book may not be what you expect, but still…Matthew may make an appearance next summer, but it would still be another year before that one is published.
I will tell you the truth, guys. The New York publishing world has little use for Matthew. They see that I am a “horror writer”—and kind of a “has been” at that—and Matthew is not “horror” but some kind of boring “historical piece”, so what do I think I’m doing?
Well…I think I’m aiming at a target that no one can see but me. I trust myself. I will hit that target in the space of ten books, and you can count on it.
Getting back with a New York-based publisher means cultivating a wider audience. This is very important for any writer’s future. I have a loyal and steady audience, it’s true, but my contemporary work is more appealing to “New York” than the Matthew series, so this is why I really do need to alternate Matthew with the contemporary books. Those books have the greatest chance of getting promoted, reviewed and noticed, and put into bookstores…whereas Matthew, for all his charm and worth and manners, is not welcome in very many Barnes & Nobles. One might say the era of the brick-and-mortar bookstore is coming to an end, but my work must be on the shelves of as many bookstores as possible, or I will find myself laboring at a “hobby” instead of having a “career”.
It is true, I have many more Matthew books ahead of me. It is equally true I have many more ideas for contemporary novels. I must alternate them in this way, as my best chance for success…and, actually, the wider reach of the contemporary novels will hopefully bring more Matthew readers into the fold. So it can be a win-win situation if I stick to my schedule.
Anyway…I am not only travelling by night, I feel I am babbling by night.
I will ask you, my readers, to do one important thing that many publishers do not do for their talent, and this oversight winds up with a lot of broken dreams and unrealized ambitions.
This is the greatest gift you can give me. Trust me, that I am doing the right thing both for the growth of my career and the future of Matthew Corbett. I am going to work very hard.
You know I am. I always have. Trust me, that I will hit the target only I can yet see…and you will see it happen too, in time. And this I promise you…it will be amazing.
About the new science-fiction horror novel…a worldwide scale, a big cast of characters, a lot of action and some creepy stuff…actually, much creepy stuff. But this is an idea I’ve had brewing for some time, and now it’s ready to be born. I am ready to travel by night, into this wild, frightening and challenging realm.
Matthew has to wait awhile. And gentleman that he is, I think he would take a seat at the Trot Then Gallop, play chess with Effrem and drink with Hudson, ponder Professor Fell’s whereabouts in the world and pine for Berry, and then say to his creator, “Sir…I trust you, too.”
What more can I ask?
Matthew’s candle is burning on his table, there at the Trot.
It won’t burn out. And it will continue to give a very warm and merry light.
Thank you for your patience and for your listening ear.
All best to everyone,