Considering My Next Move

So I started thinking of the next novel I want to write. I'm thinking of doing another run at Convert35, the rewrite/reimagining of my first novel, Between the Shadows.

For the uninitiated, Between the Shadows was written in 3 months with the help of Mel Odom (really just him talking with me about the story and what needed to happen in the next group of scenes). I've revised it several times, but it's at that point where the setting itself is hampering it more than anything else. I just didn't have a great setting.

The story is about a society where if you are a second or more late, then you are hunted down and killed. It's a contained city run by a corporation that monitors everybody through cameras, double checking their schedules, and rewarding additional shifts with better living accommodations, closer to the headquarters. The MC is a Monitor for Convert35, but has forgone any pleasures to make the most effective schedule.

One day, he is caught off schedule and has to run for his life. The only way to get through the city, by travelling the rooftops.

If you've played Mirrors Edge, you'd get a great idea about the feel I'm going for, but I wrote this three years before it came out. Great minds think alike.

The biggest problem with this version is that I want to mash up two completely different cities, by building one on top of the other. However, considering the logistics of this is causing me to slow down and figure this out.

I'm wanting to combine Auroville (as the city on the surface) with Kowloon (as the underground, living conditions). All the blocky, decrepit pictures are Kowloon, whereas the clean ones are Auroville. I do not want to use the same characters from the previous version, but it is in the same world as all my novels, so I want to work in the religion presented in The Faithful, though it takes place after that novel.

As you can see, Kowloon is claustrophobic, disgusting, and a nightmare to navigate. I could still use the parkour element as he navigates that area, but with how Auroville is spaced out, it'd need some serious renovation in my worldbuilding to make it work there. Now I could take a natural progression of Auroville, making it another metropolis that has grown out of control. That being said, the Lines of Force (the sweeping arcs moving out from the center) are up to seven stories tall, with the biggest arc at the edge of the city, the smallest at two stories right by the base. If I stick to the actual design, which is all but impossible with the melding of these two ideas.

One last thing, this society is going to be built on top of and into a mountain, so there will be no escape through the lower city. This is all the inhabitants know about since the city was built for them and they are, quite possibly, engineered to work within these confines.

I've got a couple other novels waiting in the wings and they honestly might be a better use of my time. Two are sequels to a novel I can't sell (give you three guesses which that is), another relies heavily on my third novel, so much so I'm considering writing the story, then combining it with The Emotion Exchange. There are two others that are not connected to any of my established novels, but my head first goes to Convert35 and perfecting that idea.

Art by Fish Walker

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.