For those of you who have read the short version of Like Wax Under Flame and are anticipating the full novel, I think it would be fair to give you an update as to my progress. And it comes in good news and bad news.
Bad news always first.
My continuation of the novel version of Like Wax Under Flame has been on hold for months and will continue to be on hold for what looks like a few more months for a couple of reasons. One is illness. After I completed the short story and started writing the novel, I was laid up by a soy allergy that resulted in a messed up thyroid, chronic insomnia, severe anxiety, and an eventual hospital trip where I had to have my gall bladder removed. During that time I only managed to write about ten thousand words of the novel, and then I had to stop. As of right now, I haven’t even looked at the manuscript for months. Thanks to excruciating surgery, good natural medicine, acupuncture, and the philosophies of Napoleon Hill, I’m now fully confident in my recovery and back to writing. But not Like Wax Under Flame.
Time for good news.
First, putting Like Wax Under Flame aside has caused me to realize that I need to make a few changes to the story in order to make it better and not contrived. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that rewrites are both necessary and inevitable, but if I can avoid two or five, I will.
Next, one of the many good things that resulted in my illness is the idea for another story that NEEDS to be written RIGHT NOW. This story is based off of two nightmares my anxiety-ridden mind helped conjure up while I was struggling to sleep. The first nightmare involved me playing with a wolf in a wooden cabin. I was having fun with it and it seemed happy and playful, but then it started to grow mean and rabid. It chased me throughout the house. My brother grabbed a shotgun, but failed to stop it. The wolf stopped in front of me, ready to rip me apart. But even in my terror I was seized by a sudden determination. On pure instinct, I grabbed a green bottle of vinegar (we always keep our trusty green bottle of vinegar by the kitchen sink) and sprayed it into the wolf’s eyes. Triumph surged through me when it screamed in pain and rage, but said pain and rage was almost immediately replaced by shock and so much sorrow. As its eyes became milky and translucent, it just stared at me, unmoving but silently asking me why I would hurt it in such a brutal way. Yeah, it had been just about to tear me to pieces, but I felt so horrible I didn’t care. I just broke down sobbing. The next time the wolf showed up in my dreams, it was blind, and I was trying desperately to heal it. I don’t recall if I managed to do that, but I made peace with it and started playing with it again.
When I woke up, I knew I had a story on hand. Anthropomorphic wolves? Yes, but…something else…
Oh, remember that retelling of Little Red Riding Hood starring Gary Oldman that came out a little while ago? Piece of tween girl porn shit it may have been…Little Red Riding Hood…
So then came a trip to almighty Wikipedia where I researched a majority of the versions of the classic fairy tale. After that it was all set: I would transform my two nightmares into a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It would be short, about forty/fifty thousand words, but it would also serve as a prologue to a future epic series I would write. Because, hey, I can’t not write long epic series. Just look at my fanfiction.
So now several weeks later, I’m fighting the remnants of my previous illness, and about half-way through the story. Looking back on the first chapter, I realize some serious rewrites will be in order once the first draft is complete, but the overall structure of the story remains the same:
An eighteen-year-old girl named Harper sneaks out of her heavily guarded village into the forest to meet a blind wolf named Bellus who shares an ugly history with her. Harper expects (and is very much willing) to die at Bellus’ hands, which confuses the wolf greatly. Harper ends up telling Bellus about the events of four years ago, from her perspective, that led to her ugly history with him. As a young girl, she was being secretly trained by her Grandmother Willow, one of the village elders and the greatest wolf hunter in the village. Hardened by the misogyny and hypocrisy of her fellow elders and wolf hunters, Willow was determined to mold Harper into a hunter more fierce and skilled than any man hunter alive. Harper, while a brilliant student, is naïve, arrogant, and idealistic, believing that she can change her people’s views on female hunters. Later, what remains of her innocence is stripped from her when she discovers the fatal consequences that would befall her and her grandmother should they be discovered, and that the wolves aren’t the soulless monsters the village propaganda paints them as. When Harper is done with her story, Bellus ends up telling his.
I haven’t gotten to Bellus’ POV yet, but the parallels between his story and Harper’s are eerily similar.
I would say the story itself is about a PG-13 rating, which, according to my research, is quite mild in comparison to many of the versions of Little Red Riding Hood. For those of you who believe fairy tales are for little girls…well, I’m guessing you’ve only seen the severely watered down Disney versions. As a tribute to the mythology of Little Red Riding Hood, I’ve included several elements of many of the retellings in my own such as the red cloak symbolizing womanhood, and a cauldron of sausages used to drown the wolf. This story is also not exempt from the irony-based satire that seems to be one of the trademarks for all my stories. One of the themes in the original Red Riding Hood tales is that an innocent, unworldly person can be in grave danger outside their comfort zone if they aren’t taught how to recognize the perils of the world. In my retelling, however, Harper is very aware of the dangers of the forest and the wolves, but remains naïve about the dangers that lie within her very home.
I’m really hoping to get the story done in the next couple of weeks. Afterward I want to finish my angel/demon/God novella, and then get back to Like Wax Under Flame. Who knows? Maybe I will make my spring of 2013 deadline.