Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Story Sheets: "When the Sunset Turns Red"

Now we reach the final story of the collection, and the one where it all comes together. Don't worry, Story Sheets isn't over just yet. I have a few more published stories to talk about after this one, and these posts are popular enough to keep people reading, so I'm going to keep at it.

Frankly, I'm glad for that. I don't talk enough about my writing process on this blog, mostly because I wasn't sure how to. These posts have helped me learn to express my enjoyment of writing in a way I couldn't otherwise. It has also been quite a fun series to write.

As an aside, I also just wrote a post for the Cannon Cruisers blog questioning why Cannon Films died when it did. This is beyond the financial reasons. You can read it here. We just finished up season 5, and our 75th episode, and we're currently recording material for season 6. It starts two Sundays from now.

I'm also going to be in the upcoming Uranus Planetary Anthology! It's part of an 11 volume series of short stories based on each planet in our solar system (including our sun and moon) and the mythology behind each. It's up for preorder on amazon and you also find other volumes to check out there, too. More on this one at a later date.

Whew. It's been a busy week!

So with that out of the way, let us return to business as usual. It is time for the seventh, and last, story in my new book Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures.

“"Drink the water if you start to go under.” 
"Chambers forced his eyes open as the slumber barreled down on him. The other men in the cell had already fallen into sleep. If he hadn’t bitten his tongue he would have joined them."

So after seven stories of mayhem in the magic city how exactly do you end it? Where can it go from here? Obviously, with a beginning.

No, this isn't a prequel to Endless Nights in Villain City, I mean thematically this is about new starts. It isn't literally the first story chronologically in the book. Other than Endless Nights, they all take place more or less in the same time, though some obviously take place after or before others. It's not that important when you're reading, but you can pick up on it. There's nothing confusing about it. It's not really that important in the overall scheme, though.

It's funny because this was one of the earliest ideas I had for stories set in Summerside, but it was the last one I wrote for the series. Having it be about beginnings is awkward after everything that happened over the previous six stories.

Chambers is the only main character in any of these stories without any powers, whether magic or not, aside from Spider in the previous story. The two characters do have a lot of similarities other than that. They were both criminals, they were both unrepentant in what they did, they have both seen the worst the city has to offer, and they are both facing down death. However, Chambers' story goes further into all this than Spider's does. In many ways When the Sunset Turns Red is almost a sequel to that story in what might have happened next. Unlike Spider, Chambers has already given up and has accepted his dead end fate. There is no more sunrise coming in his life, and that's the way it always will be.

Every main character in each of the seven stories that I wrote for this book has a distinct reason for doing what they're doing. Walker wants revenge, Horace wants freedom, Rhodes wants to save his family, Spider wants to live, Flatline and Concrete have a job to do, and The Seeker . . . is The Seeker. Their motives define their battles going forward.

Chambers is dry, his tank is empty, and he has nothing left. His world was shattered and everything taken, leaving him with nothing but skills he honed and a name that doesn't mean anything to anyone anymore. Now he waits for the end.

But that doesn't mean he's going to sit around twiddling his thumbs and hoping for Ragnarok. Especially not when Ragnarok comes for him.

This is the story of a man meeting his destiny . . . and finding more than he bargained for.

Writing this one I wanted a balance of light and dark, unlike the full fledged plunge into one or the other previous stories had. Chambers is wandering in and out of a world that wants to destroy him, and unless he keeps his head it will consume him whole. Here he constantly sees and experiences both sides on his way through hell.

Throughout this story you will find nods and mentions of the other six stories, and how they all lead into a guy like Chambers who is on the edge of an important decision being the capper tale. This is the end!

And When the Sunset Turns Red is a sum up of the entire work, and all seven stories in the book. Eventually, choices have to be made. Will you make the right one or the wrong one? One day the sun will set, and you will be left with no one to blame but yourself. Everything ends, and all stories are no different from that reality.

It's not just Chambers' tale coming to a close. Being the last piece in this entire collection, this story had to close off everything around it and sum up the larger point and issues at play. This is still a piece of a larger work, after all.

The inspiration I had for this one is a bit different than the other stories. For this story my inspiration basically consisted of an entire album. That is definitely different for me. I have not yet written another story were a whole album drove me through a writing project.

The work in question was Megahammer's Raw Licks, Sleazy Flicks, a Retrowave album that is one of my all-time favorites. Every track here was an inspiration when writing.

I'm not sure what Megahammer did with this album that made it hit so hard for me, but it is a perfect storm of hooks, atmosphere, mood, and energy. Every time I listen to a song from this album I get inspired to do something, and when I was thinking up this story it ended up being a huge inspiration for everything that occurred. I highly recommend it, especially if you're a fan of, or nterested in learning more about, Retrowave. I'm stunned that this one isn't more well known.

Also, since this is the last entry for stories from Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures, I should clarify the point of the larger set of tales in the streets of the magic city. Why exactly did I choose to write them this way?

I received the idea for this structured from old anime series. This is where they would have standalone episodes leading up to a bigger story event that tied them all together before going forward to the end for the big finale. It was an interesting way to combine standalone stories and an ongoing plot at the same time. The difference for these stories is that I wanted the setting to be as much of a character as the cast, and wanted to show Summerside from different viewpoints and places. It's a dark place, but it's not pitch black and hopeless. There is always a sunrise waiting.

This is a battle between good and evil, and it's also a noir story, which means the lines that might be blurry at first solidify by the end. Those who enjoy noir sometimes miss the point that the final confrontation is always a duel between black and white. There is nothing grey here. When the Sunset Turns Red is the solidifying point where that final turn takes place. There's no turning back here. You've made your bed, and now there's nothing left except to lie in it.

All this is also why I waited to write it last.

I knew all about Chambers as I wrote through most of the rest of the stories, but couldn't exactly nail down his tale. He was always in the back of my mind. It wasn't until I explored the stories of everyone else that I could finally discern his place in this twisty tangle of webs. In fact, he turned out to be the final word on what Summerside is and what these stories are all about. It ended up being the perfect cap on this bunch of tales, and several have told me it's their favorite of all seven. Waiting to write this one was definitely the right call.

This is a story about endings just as much as beginnings, and I think that's the point of the entire anthology. It all comes around in the end.

I've had this universe in my mind for a few years now, ever since writing my first proper book, Knights of the End, back in 2016. It's great being able to see others get to experience it now after years of work. These seven stories took some effort to cobble together in between so many other projects, including those that will be out later this year.

So you could say this is book an end and a beginning unto itself! I still have many more stories to tell going forward. The beat goes on in this shambling circus.

That's what the title of this tale is all about. It's a sunset, but a sunset does not mean the end. The future is always open and never set it stone. While Chambers' story ends, so do others begin after his. It always continues on, and you are always part of a bigger whole. You are never really alone. And that's the way it was meant to be.

Remember: someone is always aiming for you.

So thank you for reading about these stories. It's been a lot of fun writing about them, just as it was putting them down on paper. These seven tales are not like anything else you'll find out there, I can assure you of that! How many supernatural noir action stories are there? Never mind any that aren't nihilistic. I've never come across any.

Be sure to grab a copy today. There you can see the fruits of all previous posts in this series going forward. Sunset is just a state of mind. Eventually it fades away, and the morning comes. That's just the way it is. I don't make the rules, thank God.

Thank you for reading this series! It's been a blast.

I will continue next week with a story outside this collection, but for now you can read all seven interconnecting tales in the collection below. Reaction has been great, and I would love to hear your thoughts on them. Reviews so far have been thoughtful and in depth, and I'd like to see more! That is what I wrote these stories for, after all.

Until next time!

Find it Here!

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