When Novels Attack

Reader, it’s been a minute.

When last I wrote, horror movies were on my brain, and so they still are. Since then, horror I’ve watched includes The Grudge (2004), Doctor Sleep, Black Christmas (2019), The Thing (2011), Angel Heart, Dark Was the Night, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, The Girl With All the Gifts, The Block Island Sound, and As Above, So Below. You’ve probably heard of all of those, except maybe Dark Was the Night, which was pleasantly uneven and featured some unusual monster action. Also since then, the U.S. has resumed a semblance of its previous on-fire-everywhere normalcy, I’ve found a new love of musicals and a revived love of board games, summer has come, and the writing continues.

I finished the first draft of a novel in late April, and there was much rejoicing! The last time I did that was indecently long ago, and it feels good to be already on my way with Draft Two. As all the writers out there who hop between genres know, it’s a weird stretching sort of feeling when you’ve paused on writing shorter works and are no longer in the hum & fray of constant submissions. Still doing the thing, but most of the paddling is under the surface. What spurred the novel?

Around 2005, my intention was to write novels, with maybe a few other things along the way. Between then and now, I got published, translated, anthologized; became enamored of short stories and their writing; and experienced prolonged dejection over lack of getting an agent for said previous novel. I also went through Big Life Changes, in the form of years of elevated stress due to illness and deaths in the family. That’s mostly in the rear view mirror at this point, but I’ve come through it a different person.


Last year I acknowledged to myself that I was starting to get truly burned out on writing short. (Editors to whom I owe stories or essays: I will still come through!) I wanted to read and write stories I could roll around in, and for me that means novels. I was considering possibilities for a longer story… something about nuclear-powered vampire llamas… and then the pandemic hit. After the shock started to wear off, I realized that it was time to get going. I was going to be at home for a while, I’d been wanting to write long again, and the threat of mortality was here. With a vengeance.

And so I’ve been trying to Make Good Art. It’s going all right, and I hope that this book will land an agent when I query, hopefully later this year. If not? Whether a given story or novel finds a home, it’s on to the next.

All I have, as they say, is time.

library of congress photo

7 thoughts on “When Novels Attack

  1. John,

    Good for you to be “rolling around” in something bigger. I did the opposite and dashed around in something shorter.

    Good luck with the novel, and hopefully not too much bourbon will be poured before you find an agent.

    ~ Karen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . info@karenachase.com KarenAChase.com ~ Author Facebook

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . If you loved: CARRYING INDEPENDENCE or MaryAngelasKitchen.com I greatly welcome a review on Goodreads


    • Thank you, Karen! I saw your comment the other day about having a low-online-presence summer, so here’s wishing you a happy, productive, and restful time of it!

  2. It’s just so good to hear from you again! I am excited that you are lining up your artistic focus with what most interests you. Gotta go where the Muse calls! (And I’m always happy to read anything you write, regardless of length or draft version.)

    • Likewise, Paul, good to see you, and thanks on all counts! As I’ve scaled back my online activity, I missed talking. I don’t know about my next travel plans, but maybe we can do a virtual beer one of these days…

      • Always down for a virtual beer. And I just registered for The Future of Speculative Fiction panel discussion. Looking forward to it!

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