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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pitching and how it morphs: Young Van Helsings

Someone on my blog asked me about Sword of Dracula, the comic series I wrote that first introduced the spy organization (grown up around the heroes of Dracula and the origins of Frankenstein) called the Polidorium. Would the characters there-- especially Ronnie-- ever return? I told her something a lot of people might not know: Alex Van Helsing, the book series, sprang from a pitch called Young Van Helsings. There, Alex was one of the leads in what would be a series about Alex, sister Ronnie (the star of the comic) and Alex's manipulative twin Judith. As it happened, by the time we were done, the pitch had refocused on Alex himself. That happens all the time-- this was actually a rare case where the pitch morphed, but the earlier version is still viable. Sometimes it can go wildly out of alignment with the original-- what starts out as a police procedural can wind up as a romantic comedy about a cop. Usually these changes are better. And besides-- you're the writer. You can always come around to the earlier version later.

Pitch time. That's where we are.
This is one of those periods where I'm mainly working my a** off but it's more or less hidden from public view. In public view I'm in a quiet period because Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead doesn't come out until July 26, and though I've turned in a draft of the third book, I don't have edits on it yet, so I'm working on new material. During the last hiatus I worked on a ghost story with a female lead; this time I'm working on two different middle grade boy action books simultaneously.

Where do I do this? I have an office at home, but for knocking out chapters, nothing suits me more perfectly than an empty lecture hall. Most of the Alex Van Helsing series, in fact, was written inside of lecture halls at the University of Dallas:
Gorman Lecture Center, where I do a lot of my writing.

Sometimes when I take breaks, I leave cryptic notes on the white boards (last time: THE COARSEST SENSATIONS OF MEN.) I always wonder if the students notice these notes, or if the professor just erases them. The world may never know.

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