Adshade99 Lives and the Influential Novels of my Life Pt 1

Not to give away too much about my next novel, but it’s written as a sort of epistolary novel for the 21st Century, blending a blog with some third-person storytelling and a highly-encrypted personal journal. I have some pretty neat ideas about hos all those things will interact in the long-term, and the best part of writing the novel is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be written in a linear fashion, as the blog lags behind the main story by three years. So, having reached the end of Corridors in my head, it felt like the right time to start thinking about what would come first in the next novel, now known as Entanglements. I started composing the first blog entry by the first protagonist, known only as Adshade99, her handle on her blog. I’m quite pleased with what I’ve come up with so far, and I’m looking forward to writing entries in her voice.

The novel centers around a woman who is kidnapped by an organized crime ring that’s producing snuff videos for an underground website on the Tor network, yet somehow is able to produce these blog entries. Two network admins get hooked on her blog, and we start to see them descend into the same world that she had found. I don’t want to give away too much yet because a lot is still subject to change aside from the “must-haves”.  I think this will be much like the last novel, one that just writes itself – I already have the first three scenes in mind, just waiting to get written.

By the way, Adshade is the last name of someone that I’ve met. I thought it was just a great name for an Internet handle, and here it is.

I’m still a bit out of whack, so this will likely be another odds-and-ends entry, but the words must flow, or something along those lines. Bear with me as I try to get through it. Transitions abound in my life – between books and this medication. But I have faith things will be better on the other side.

I believe our next item of business was talking about some of the books that have influenced me – an idea courtesy of Paul Dail and Worlds in Ink. Today I’ll talk about three – tomorrow three – and wrap up on Friday. By the way – these are in no particular order.

The Dark Tower III – The Wastelands by Stephen King. The entire Dark Tower series is the source of a lot things in my imagination. I picked up the first book, The Gunslinger, in 1986 – I believe – when I was 10 years old. It, along with another book that will appear on this list, The Talisman, were core to where I saw myself going someday. Yes, even at that age; I’ll post my first story from when I was six or seven here someday.

The first book fired my imagination in ways that I hadn’t thought possible – talk about ancient advanced civilizations and the speech about size defeating us just absolutely blew my young mind. The second book, while compelling, misses some elements that I really enjoy about the series. It’s far more character-centric, almost to a fault. But the third book? Ah, that’s where it all came together. It’s where I feel that King started to hit his stride with understanding Midworld and the mechanics of the world that he created, but he also hadn’t started to indulge in the things that would make book 4 such a slog and the latter half of the series so questionable in quality. As long as the third book is, it’s a very taut story.

I think it also effectively explored those concepts of arrested technology in the distant future. So many of the elements of this novel are still my favorite tropes: multiple worlds, different versions of characters within those worlds (the concept of a “twinner” as we’ll talk about in the Talisman), and of course the technology angle. Overall, possibly the most influential book in this entire list.

Imajica by Clive Barker. Clive had a really good run from the late 80s to the mid 90s. As much as I enjoyed his horror writing, I think he really took his writing to the next level when he began crafting fantasy worlds out of whole cloth.  The run began with Weaveworld (please bring this to Kindle!), a highly enjoyable if flawed book, and then started to pick up steam with The Great and Secret Show, which could just as easily have made this list. Then there was Everville, the sequel to Great and Secret Show, which was adequate but a bit too plodding for my tastes. And Imajica.

While any of those books, save Everville, probably could have taken this spot, I think overall Imajica has to make it just for the quality. This is Barker at his imaginative best with themes that I find fascinating: hidden histories, multiple worlds, and compelling characters. The assassin Pie O’ Pah hasn’t really been equaled for me…s/he was just that compelling. I’ve read it several times since, and each time I pick up something new from it. Those four books – again, minus Everville – also have combined in the milieu of my imagination to form a cohesive view of something that I’d like to accomplish. I really miss this Barker. I mean, I enjoyed Abarat, but I wish this Barker would return some day. Oh, and I got a chance to get his autograph earlier this year. Totally worth it.


On the Road by Jack Kerouac. This stands in for any number of other Kerouac books – I think Visions of Cody may be a close second or even surpass this novel. I was precisely the right age when a friend introduced me to Kerouac’s writing; I had just gotten out of a hideous engagement that had ended with me dropping out of college and pretty much wrecked my life. I was living a pretty marginal life trying to figure out just what the hell my future held. I was writing every day, but it was aimless, introspective stuff that was fueled by the depths of my depression. Kerouac came along and blew all that away. Well, Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg. I became a latter-day Beatnik within the space of a few months, just devouring any Beat writing on which I could lay my grubby paws.

For awhile, I aspired to bec0me a new Beat writer, but since then I’ve realized that it’s just not my thing. The Beat writers and poets, however, did help me to find a decent narrative flow, something that I had been lacking up to that point. They also helped me develop my ear for dialogue, something that still serves me to this day. I also think that without their influence I wouldn’t care as much about my characters and their internal contradictions as I do now.

Okay, I know I said I was going to write about my character process today, but I’ve already run long. I’ll get to that tomorrow, along with the next three books.

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  1. Great start to your list (and fascinating story idea. Adshade is a great name). Thanks for the mention. Actually, I have to give credit for this idea to Brandon Schrand. Worlds in Ink gave me the idea of putting the alphabetical listing of books that were on my bookshelves (which doesn’t necessarily comprise my most influential works).

    Anyway, again, a great start. You saw my list, so you know about the influence King and Barker have had on me, but I haven’t read Imajica (but I will now). I also didn’t care as much for Everville. “Latter-day beatnik” eh? Awesome. I think I did some of that myself with Burroughs and Ginsberg. Still need to read On the Road, though. Wasn’t ready for it the first time I picked it up.

    Look forward to the rest of your list.
    Paul D. Dail

  2. Thanks! Ahh yes, that’s right, you told me that. See how mushy my brain has been, hehe. I see how my notes got transposed. I eventually want to do the bookshelves thing sooner or later, too, I’m just in a state of flux when it comes to my collection, especially with trying to transition to digital books.

    From others that I’ve spoken to, it seems that Imajica is an acquired taste. I know the length is part of the problem, for sure, but obviously I really enjoyed it. Everville was such a let-down. I mean, a sequel to the Great and Secret Show, what could go wrong? Heh, Yeah quite a bit. In retrospect I wonder if that was a sign that he was almost done with the fantasy thing.

    Oh yeah, I thought I had it all figured out. You know how it is at that age. I do think I learned quite a bit from it. Not surprised about that with On the Road…I’ve had that happen with a lot of books. Time is so key to concepts really grabbing hold of you.

  3. Pingback: On the Dark Edge: My Top Ten Dark Fantasy Novels | Shaggin the Muse

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