If you’ve visited my site before, you may notice there have been some fairly radical and abrupt changes. And I think you deserve an explanation.
With the publication of “Scarlet’s Game” in October, I found myself grappling with the most frightening question any writer can face. “Now what?”
I’ve never really had A Plan as such, beyond simply “Be a writer.” Been there, done that, want and intend to keep doing it. But my version of a plan, or maybe it was more (a plan), was predicated on poking things with sticks and seeing what happened. In that whole time, I can think of maybe twice I sat down to the keyboard and produced the story I initially envisioned and set out to write.
To be fair, this scattershot approach worked out reasonably well for most of a decade. I learned a lot that way, and stretched myself in ways and directions I never intended by simply saying, “Screw it…let’s see what happens.”
But over time, I started feeling a longing to get back to my roots, as it were. I wanted to do something different, something new. Something BIG which didn’t guarantee a happily ever after or a triumphant main character, with commensurately higher stakes.
As Stephen King wrote in the preface to The Gunslinger, I wanted to “get behind the controls of one big great God a’mighty steamshovel” and run that juggernaut over a few cars.
Over the summer and into the fall of 2018, I felt the stirrings of a story concept, a bricolage of half-remembered myths and legends, pop culture nods and ideas I just thought were plain cool and hadn’t been adequately explored elsewhere. With nothing on my personal publication schedule after “Scarlet’s Game,” I had plenty of time to pivot, shift gears, dig in and start exploring this new direction to its fullest possible potential.
Not long after I started, I realized three things:
- There was absolutely no way this could possibly be a one-novel project. For better or worse, I’d have to write at least four books to even start to fit in a good view of the big, sprawling world I’d created. I’d asked the universe for inspiration, to send me a big great God a’mighty steamshovel…and I’d gotten exactly what I asked for, in spades.
- I was happy, nay, gleeful at the prospect of all the extra hell I could put my characters through without the constant, self- and reader-imposed pressure to get various tabs and slots aligned or the conventional prerequisite of an emotionally satisfying happy ending.
- Urban fantasy was going to be my home, at least for the foreseeable future.
Between assaults on the keyboard, my characters and the English language (with some Spanish, Norwegian and Russian thrown in for good measure), I started to seriously plan for the first time in my career. What the actual fuck is the sense in having a steam shovel if you’re just going to park the damn thing in the garage?
Of course, to implement my vision of A Plan, I had to make some changes and a big pivot in direction.
The first and most obvious is the presentation of this website. As I move away from erotic romance, for now, and into intense focus on the world I’m building in this new series, things which would appear to be at least tangentially related to erotic romance no longer have the same urgency, relevance or import. Thus, my website needs to reflect my intentions and show I’m taking this project seriously. It’s not just a fun lark or a thought exercise; halfway through the second book in the series, and several hundred hours of writing, editing, rewriting, tweaking and polishing already in my rearview mirror, this is my life now.
The second is my pen name. This one was trickier. I’ve always believed if my writing is good enough to put out for public consumption, it’s good enough for me to put my name on. At the same time, J.S. Wayne is inextricably bound to erotic romance at this point. But Jericho Wayne? He can come out to play…and I decided he should.
The third is my intention to seek out agent representation and professional publication. It’s a long shot, I know…but really, aren’t they all? After all, I’ve poured my heart and soul into this new series, The Soulforger Chronicles, and I want to give it the best possible chance to succeed. If that means changing my approach to make it happen, then that’s what I’ll do.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not leaving erotic romance behind forever. I’m sure at some point I’ll feel the itch to detour and give myself a break from the darkened version of Seattle I’ve created in Adeptus, the first novel in the series.
But for now, I feel like I’m home.
I hope you’ll join me in this brave new world.