One of the last things I do in the writing process of any new story or novel is to read my work aloud. It helps me find missing words, typos and, um, poorly worded sentences such as “He panted heavily in her rear.” I mean, technically not a typo but….
Reading my works aloud also helps me to figure out how I want to pronounce weird names and such when I read in front of live audiences as opposed to the mannequins I keep stored in my basement. With my new book, Has the World Ended Yet?, I decided to skip that with one of the stories: “We Are All Ghosts,” a sort of Lovecraftian superhero tale. It’s a bit long for readings and hard to pull sections out without over-explanation. Also, there’s a lot of strange language in it, such as “ia ia ftagn” and my own takes on Lovecraftian language: “Wgahst’nar phl’unk!” So I decided just to never read that one aloud. Pronunciation problems solved.
And then the other day I talked to the woman who will be recording the book for an audio version and she had some questions.
“On page 168, how do you pronounce….” she asked.
“Right. Urbl’phhar mypr’ttsh urbl’phhar,” I said. “Like it sounds.”
OK, I should have thought about the audio versions. Live and learn.
Anyway, we figured out an approach for pronouncing the unpronounceable. It went something like this:
“Just do your own take on it,” I said. “But make your own take sound like a fish. An angry fish – you know, deep tones, like the Deep Old Ones. Burbling and moaning. None of that high-pitched Dory fish stuff. This is the voice of a fish that has seen it all and knows everything ends in tentacles.”
So there you have it. Always read your works aloud, if for no other reason than to avoid awkward conversations about your sanity. I get enough of those at home already.
(Re the image: It’s called Into the Depths by Patrick Reilly, and it’s one of those illustrations that haunts me.)
Reading some of the stories, etc. I mentioned in my last On the Bookshelf post reminded me of a couple of Neil Gaiman short stories that are among my favourite tales of all time. So I went back and gave them a re-read this weekend. Check them out if you haven’t read them already:
- “I, Cthulhu, or, What’s A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47° 9′ S, Longitude 126° 43′ W)?” – It’s pretty much what the title says it is.
- “A Study in Emerald” – If you like the creepy, supernatural Royal Family in my Cross books, you’re going to like this. It may also appeal to Sherlock Holmes fans and other troubled sorts.
This seems like a good time to point out I have a Cthulhu story in Has the World Ended Yet?, my latest book. There are also a couple of demon investigator stories featuring Molox, a demonic processing clerk, and Malachi, his impetuous imp companion. I’d kind of like to turn those stories into a book at some point, but more Cross stories are calling first.
The Apocalypse Ark, the third book in the Cross series, has set sail! Well, it just published in Canada, anyway. It’s coming soon to other parts of the world. If we don’t all drown in a rain of fire and blood first, that is. We have it coming, after all. Don’t ask why — you know what you did.
Here’s what some of the early reviews have had to say:
- “A vastly entertaining, fantastical, breakneck hodgepodge quest novel” – Publishers Weekly
- “A spiritual relative to Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and Lavie Tidhar’s Bookman series” – Publishers Weekly
- “One of the strongest, and strangest, literary creations this country has ever seen” – Vancouver Sun
- “If you like your literature with a nitro fueling, you’ll love these” – CBC’s All Points West
- “One of the most entertaining series in recent years” – Examiner.com
- “Roman (a pseudonym for Vancouver Province journalist Peter Darbyshire) writes with the unfettered delight of a gluttonous reader trapped in a library in his own mind, drawing promiscuously from myth, folk tale, religious texts and apocrypha, literature, music and philosophy — seemingly anything that catches his attention” – The Vancouver Sun
If you’re new to the Cross series, here’s the basic premise: Our poor narrator, Cross, woke thousands of years ago to find himself in the body of Christ after Christ shuffled off this mortal coil. He has all the powers of Christ but none of his sensibilities — Cross is a drunk, thief, mercenary and all-around rogue. He’s about as fallen as you can get, the type of person who usually winds up dead in a back alley somewhere. Cross does end up dead a lot, but every time he dies his body resurrects him. There’s a catch, though: he needs the heavenly grace of angels to fuel his powers, and the only way to get that is to kill them. Needless to say, he’s not very popular among the angels left behind on Earth.
The first book, The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, follows Cross’s attempts to track down his old nemesis Judas, a trickster god dedicated to destroying humanity — and who is responsible for the deaths of Cross’s one true love throughout the ages, Penelope, and their unborn daughter, Amelia. It spans the centuries and the globe and leads Cross into the middle of a war between the angels. It was an Amazon.ca No. 1 fantasy bestseller and did all right in other parts of the world, too.
The second book, The Dead Hamlets, sees Cross caught in the middle of a murder mystery, as a mysterious ghost with ties to Shakespeare is killing off members of the faerie court, who live in secrecy among the humans. The next victim may just be Amelia, Cross’s dead daughter that the faerie queen stole from the grave and birthed to torment Cross (they have a history). Cross must discover the ghost’s secret to stop the murders, but what he finds may mean even his end.
In the third book, The Apocalypse Ark, Cross faces his most dangerous enemy yet: Noah. For ages Noah has sailed the seas, seeking out all of God’s mistakes and imprisoning them on his ark. Noah is not humanity’s saviour but is instead God’s jailer. But he has grown increasingly mad over the centuries, and now he is determined to end the world by raising the mysterious Sunken City. Only one person can stop him: Cross.
I’ll be posting more about The Apocalypse Ark and its origins in the days to come. In the meantime, I’ll just leave these links here in case you’re interested….
Buy The Apocalypse Ark (paperback)
Buy The Apocalypse Ark (ebook)
(Yes, I know the photo shows a giant squid attacking the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, not an ark. Trust me — there’s a connection between 20,000 Leagues and The Apocalypse Ark.)