. . . that reminded me that my novel has come a long freakin’ way from its inception in 1998.
Yeah, it’s been that long.
But let me hasten to add that, although I had the very basic, very rough idea for it waaaay back then, I didn’t actually start writing it in novel form until 2005. Until then, Anderson and her slowly developing world existed in my head (along with my awesome superhero comic book) and on a few pages in a spiral notebook. Life was happening, you see.
I was married, we were seeing America through the windshield of a International semi truck, then we were off the road and living in our hometown, and then we got a dog (hi Psycho!*) to go along with our cat (RIP Farts**) and then we got another cat (hi Pib!***) and in between all that we moved around the town and went through different jobs and then Hurricane Rita knocked us into a FEMA trailer, and then I finally got serious about writing the book.
All right, so I found these old notebooks a couple of days ago, while I was going through some stuff in my office closet.
I had completely forgotten about these.
I spent some hours going through them. The oldest one, on the top left, is dated 1997 on the inside of the front cover, but there are some scraps of paper stapled to the pages here and there that carry dates of August 1995, June 1996, others. Yeah, I date almost all my notes. I also date my greeting cards, a habit I borrowed from my grandmother.
I found some story ideas, some decent, but most bad. (A couple of the decent ones: a guy sells his soul on eBay as a joke, only to find himself under the control of a serial killer; a reality show winner finally buys the car of his dreams, this high-powered, exclusive exotic sports car, only to find that it comes with severe restrictions.) And a lot of bad poetry.
Mixed in with all that, a handful of sentences pertaining to my werewolf story. It’s funny how stuff mutates over the years. Reading those sentences, I recalled pacing around truck stop parking lots and rest areas, stretching my legs while my mind ran over plot points and snippets of dialogue. Originally, my story was a lot different.
It was about a group of high school students, seniors, who come across this old Dungeons and Dragons–style RPG game owned by one of the kids’ uncles. I don’t remember what the game was called, something to do with werewolves or howling. The game, and the accompanying manual, was infamous. It was banned in the 1980s, because the manual contained a spell on becoming a werewolf, a spell that supposedly worked because it had been copied from a grimoire. The kids all figured it was hype, part of the role-playing games hysteria that ran around the 80s.
They’re all into horror movies and video games and they’ve played a little D&D, so they play this game, too. They’re all outsiders, and bullied, so when the spell calls for a blood sacrifice, they kill one of their tormentors. (I don’t recall how many kids; I think 3 boys, plus 1 girl.)
They don’t expect the spell to work, but it does: they all become werewolves. According to the notes, I waffled a bit on having the transformation, and the beasts they become, controllable or uncontrollable.
I remember a scene where one of the kids changes during a class, and kills a bunch of students and gets locked away in a mental hospital, while what really happened in that classroom gets covered up, so as far as anyone knows, it was a school shooting.
The only way to un-become a werewolf is to destroy the book that was used. I had created a group that tracked down and destroyed all the books, and along the way, they killed the werewolves that aren’t too keen on losing their powers.
And, here’s the nostalgic part: my notes say that their leader is an ex-cop named Anderson, who lost her family to a werewolf. She has a secret, though: she was bitten during her family’s murder, and now she’s a werewolf too. She has the book that her attacker used, and she guards it closely, not wanting to lose her powers, since they give her an edge in her werewolf killing crusade.
Man, this is so different from how it turned out.
Eventually, I dropped the teenagers.
And then I lost the team, but kept the book part.
And then I trashed the book idea.
And then I got rid of her family.
So the Anderson character has been the one constant (well, that and the werewolf angle) in this whole thing. Her personality’s changed a lot, as I’ve written and revised and written again and approached the story from a few different angles. I had this one version where this pack of werewolves uses her to help them break a buddy out of a mental hospital, a misguided attempt to tie into the early version with the school slaughter. That version sucked.
And now it’s finally at a point where I like the book, and the characters, and I don’t see myself rewriting it ever again. (I’d better not, because I got an agent based off that book.)
Still, it was fun to see how it started.
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*I did not name this dog.
**I did not name this cat either.
***Okay, I named this cat. It’s an acronym for Pain In Butt.