Below is a description of "Monsters of Utopia" then a brief discussion of how I ended up writing it.
Amazon Book Description:
Monsters of Utopia is story of first contact with aliens from deep space and deep within ourselves.
Monsters begins - as all great stories do - in medias res. The arena of action is the Rocky Mountains near Denver, CO, USA. The three main characters are Clark, Bob and Sharon. There is a war going on. Clark is a prisoner of the military - not an enemy, but a potential asset. Sharon is a facilitator sent to convince Clark to help the military in its efforts against the enemy, known only as 'jellies' at this point. We learn about Bob, left behind when Clark was captured, from his journal entries uploaded and reviewed by the military.
The jellies are giant, flying jellyfish. They have the ability to overcome resistance by altering the public's perception of reality. Before he was captured, Clark had direct experience with these jellie-created illusions. Sharon manipulates Clark in order to use him as a guinea pig for the military. Clark infiltrates the jellie-controlled territory of Denver. Sharon does not necessarily agree with the military's plan but she understands the need for action against the jellies.
Reports from the "World Archive," a digital repository of information established in response to the jellies attacking the planet, provide more details about the origin of the jellies and, possibly, some other forces involved in the battle for Earth. More details about other players in the conflict are provided by further "World Archive" entries. We are given the sense that creatures from outer space will have some part to play before the story is done.
What will happen to Sharon, Clark and Bob?
Who or what is Sebastian Oglethorpe?
Will the jellies conquer the world and eradicate humankind?
Read Monster of Utopia to find out.
I was working on one project, a story that started in a South American jungle (ayahuasca, shamanism, giant snakes, etc.) then moved north into the U.S., when I came up with the idea of a specific type of VR device. The more I wrote scenes with the VR device, the more my thoughting and plotting turned from the that project to what became Monsters. I ended up mixing in the concept of "Imaginal Creatures," a touch of the "third man" phenomena experienced by mountain climbers and other people who find themselves alone in very hazardous conditions and a twist or two from various fairytales. What came out of that literary fricassee is Monsters.
I'd been playing around with writing a "modern day fairy tale" for a while by then and Monsters took on that flair to such an extent that I ended up subtitling it "a fairy tale manifesto." Perhaps the most obvious (to me, at least) fairy tale aspect in Monsters is the character of Sebastian. He doesn't arrive until later in the story but when he does make his appearance, it's hard to ignore. I named the main character of my next book, "The Far Shores of Saucerland (not yet published)," Sebastian as I so loved writing his speeches/diatribes. His tone and word choice inspired me to push my limits even further with Saucerland which is written in a loose free verse.
When people ask me (it happens sometimes) what I enjoy most about writing, I tell them about how it fascinates me the way these characters which nominally I've created start to take on lives of their own. The surprising changes they insist on me making even though I started out with an entirely different plan in mind are both inspiring and maddening. As I write this, I've just realized my resisting this dynamic is what has been causing me such difficulty with Time Swerve Terminal (see previous blog posts for more info). I need to go back to those characters and let them tell me what I should do with that story.