A novel, a short play, sound design...
Thank you for reading my second Writing Newsletter.
Gosh, it’s September in a couple days.
Okay, here are some things that happened in August, with more info below…
• Untitled Novel (Novel and Audio Drama)
• All Praise the Ikon (10-Minute Stage Play)
• Fire on the Mound 10th Anniversary (Podcast Novel)
• A Wish For My Forever (Audio Fiction)
• Audio Drama Sound Design The Transposition of Chloë Brontë (Video)
Untitled Novel (Novel and Audio Drama)
As detailed in my first newsletter, work continues on the robot novel. This month I wrote and rewrote a few chapters. Including a new one-on-one action scene, a kind of private denouement to a larger public action piece. So, we start with a large bit of chaos and then bring it down to a more intimate conflict. The scene is between the antagonist Novum Poole and the protagonist— Sophia. That name means wisdom.
Novum and Sophia’s separate lives intertwine, intersecting at key moments, much like the caduceus staff— two snakes wrapped around one another— their fates joined in a spiral. No snippet to share this month, but here’s some design work I did on Novum.
See the white paint on her fingers? I call it ‘genetic dermis replica acrylic.’ This allows her to bypass haptic security on stolen technology— through identity echoing and mimesis. Simply— the technology thinks she is someone else.
Early in the book Novum joins a squad (i.e. a cybergang) —and as a rookie, on her first heist, we see her encounter Sophia. Novum survives and over the next few years rises up the ranks until, finally, she takes command of the whole organization. She then spreads her anti-robot ideology and creates a furor, a cult of personality. Novum becomes an infamous demagogue on the world stage, employing her new infrastructure in a secret vendetta. Parallel to this growing movement, Sophia journeys on a globe-trotting hunt, one also with less-than-virtuous intent.
More on that journey later— I’ll probably make a map and post it in a future newsletter.
As I continue working on the novel, I’ve also recorded some actors for the podcast version, and done some preliminary sound design. There are still many roles to record. I’d like to find some kind of producing or distribution partnership. The audio drama will cost money. I expect to complete the writing in the next few months.
At this point I have the story broken up into nine parts, each part consisting of its own philosophical or historical theme, and each part is itself segmented into three or four chapters. Each chapter alternates between Sophia’s point of view and a dialogue exchange— which she witnesses, but does not necessarily participate in (due to the nature of surveillance technology). These conversations generally involve humans, but sometimes other robots, as well. I wouldn’t say this structure is directly inspired by Plato’s dialogues, but something like that.
Still working out where the episode breaks occur— might be something like 9 to 12 episodes, depending on duration, 25 or 45 minutes, maybe— still undecided.
All Praise the Ikon (10-Minute Stage Play)
I’ve been struggling to write a 10-Minute Stage Play for a few years, at least something I felt worked at this duration— theme, character, and plot. But a few weeks ago I wrote a new piece called All Praise the Ikon —and I think with a few more revisions it will be in a good place. Here’s the synopsis:
An Instructor suggests to a fellow educator there may be ways of resisting the occupying bureaucracy which seeks to control the books in their classroom— texts chosen by an Algorithm allegedly serving the sacred Ikon.
That synopsis reads a little clunky, I’ll have to streamline it. Last week I sent the play to a writer initiative called Trade A Play Tuesday. Every Tuesday strangers swap 10-Minute Plays and share feedback. Received some good notes for the next draft.
I also doodled around making a title card, as you see above. Why? Who knows. Well, maybe for this post, I guess. I used the ‘every word in a different font’ technique. The angel you see is from a public domain Gustav Doré image called “An Angel Appears to Balaam” —inspired by a passage from the book of Numbers.
In the case of this title card, an angel holds you at sword-point, reflecting the authoritarian strategy of appropriating religion to secure compliance. The circuits imply the phantom Algorithm which operates in the play. I say ‘phantom’ because, maybe, that’s just an excuse for the dystopian policies. Sort of a secular ghost, a mirror, a reflection of the Ikon which also does not actually inform the authority’s decisions. Here’s a sample:
Ten years ago this month the first episode of my fantasy-adventure podcast novel Fire on the Mound premiered on iTunes. Wow! Quite fulfilling to create this 42-episode series with reader Steve Rudolph and composer William Seegers.
The show garnered the 2014 Parsec Awards Best Speculative Fiction Story (Long Form) and the 2013 Geekie Awards Best Narrative Audio Series.
I am forever grateful for Steve and William sharing their talents and collaborating on this 1,000-year story. To celebrate, here is composer William Seegers’ magnificent suite, simply called “The Fire on the Mound.“ This musical piece begins with the creation myth found in the novel— then catapults you forward through history— and the entire journey of love, loss, and forgiveness. It’s a beautiful piece of music. I cry.
A Wish For My Forever (Audio Fiction)
I posted my monologue A Wish For My Forever on my Substack. Here’s the synopsis:
A lonely being reflects on waiting four and a half billion years to be reunited with its absent lover.
This piece joins two other audio stories on my Substack—
• The short story The Loser, read and performed by Emily Strand.
• The audio drama Waiting to Die in a Tent, A Few Thoughts on Valhalla, starring Boyd Barrett, Karin Heimdahl, Owen McCuen, and Madeline Goshorn.
Audio Drama Sound Design
The Transposition of Chloë Brontë (Video)
In this behind-the-scenes video, I explore the sound design of the opening scene of my audio drama The Transposition of Chloë Brontë-- Episode Three: Nightmare.
Learn how tomatoes and borax can lead to inter-dimensional travel.
With Theme Music by Katharine Seaton.
I’ll leave you with this— on August 8th I participated in Cranes For Our Future, a commemorative initiative for the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.
I made this origami crane and wrote a little prayer.
I fold this crane in memory of Sadako Sasaki. I fold this crane in memory of Hiroshima. I fold this crane in memory of Nagasaki. And I fold this crane in the fervent hope of eliminating all nuclear weapons from our planet. I dream of a future free from war.
If you’d like to see cranes from other participants, you can visit this link to posts curated by the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
If you are unfamiliar with Sadako Sasaki, here’s a brief introduction.
When she was two-years old, Sadako lived in Hiroshima, Japan. Although she survived the atomic blast on August 6, 1945 which occurred about a mile from her home, Sadako was heavily irradiated, and ten years later diagnosed with leukemia, from her exposure to uranium radiation. Sadako was hospitalized in February, 1955.
Those affected by the bombings are known as hibakusha, which means “bomb-affected person” or “person affected by exposure [to radioactivity].”
Sadako and her mother fled their home but were caught in black rain— radioactive rain clotted and darkened by black soot.
While in the hospital, a friend of Sadako told her a story. If a sick person folds 1,000 origami cranes they will get well again. Sadako started folding paper cranes, using any scrap of paper people would bring her. Eventually she created more than 1,000.
Sadako died at the age of twelve in October, 1955.
Three years later the Children’s Peace Monument was created in her honor— including a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane. The statue stands close to the location where the United States dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.
People the world over still send paper cranes to be placed beneath the monument— at the bottom of which is written—
“This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.”
Fo more information about sending paper cranes to the monument, you may visit The City of Hiroshima website.
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