Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hitting My Goal & What Comes Next

First off, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for donating to my book. You're all bastions of humanity and supporters of the arts and I love all of you.

Here's what happens now: I am in the process of finishing my 20th novel, a book called THINGS HAVE CHANGED. When that's done, I have some edits to do on a few of my other books - my last novel, MY AGENT OF CHAOS, and a new version of a nonfiction book called CHART OF DARKNESS. My desk should be clear in mid-April, which is when I will launch into the first draft of EATING ANIMALS.

The through-line (I don't really do plots unless I'm writing a mystery or crime novel) is similar to a few of my other books: people who are roughly my age are trying to deal with love and life, despite the unnerving persistence of the past and their fleeting brushes with success. If you wanted to sum up what I'm about, that's pretty much it in a nutshell. However, there are differences: of the four main characters, two are chefs - a profession I've been wanting to write about for some time. These two guys are also both straight; I've been wanting to write about straight adult male friendships for awhile and one of them always ends up being a woman or a gay dude.

I've written about two of these characters in the past. One of them, Alicia Stander, appeared in two of my past novels - WOLVES IN THE BLACK and THE LEGEND OF JENNY MCCABE. Her journey almost seemed complete. She started off damaged in WOLVES and in JENNY she'd healed herself. I wrote both those books in the Aughts. Wade Gimble, her boyfriend, appeared much earlier, in a short story called, "Last Night at the Bear," which I wrote in the mid-1990s. Wade was an analogue to who I was back then, and when he showed up (completely unplanned) in JENNY MCCABE, it was interesting to catch up on who he's been and what he's been doing. He and Alicia found each other and helped each other. But Wade's been in my mind a lot lately. I've begun wondering if there's a chance for drama - for conflict, for a good story - after healing. I think there is.

There's also a character I want to use who mirrors Kathy in Steinbeck's East of Eden - one of my favorite novels ever. I'm trying to figure out if there's a way to build a character like that without feeling sexist, and I think it'll be a good challenge for me as a male writer.

I'm also delving into stuff like technique and structure in this book. Normally, I start off each book having a vague idea what drives the characters and having some vague conflict they need to deal with. I've plowed through a lot of books that way and it usually works. This time, I want to have an interesting structure, and an interesting way to introduce the main players. My books have usually employed a three-part structure. Most recently, the parts consist of: characters start somewhere / ROADTRIP / come back home changed. This ... likely won't change that paradigm. But I'm going to be dealing with the past of the characters in a more personal way, because Wade's past is MY past.

So that's where we stand on EATING ANIMALS. I'm currently weighing the pros and cons of releasing the novel in segments so you can all read along as I write it. We'll see how I feel come mid-April and it's game time.

Thanks again for giving me the urgency to finish this novel. I already have some ideas for book #22 coming up (it's going to be very short), and I have to start writing it in November, so let's hope EATING ANIMALS has a quick gestation. You've all supported me and the concept of independent writing and publishing, and I can't tell you how gratified I am.

Read well, write well, and let freedom ring!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Migrating Animals

Things were weird for me in 1994. I was living alone in a rooming house, along with a sore clutch of dying old men and junkies literally itching their way into overdoses. I supported myself with two to three retail jobs at the local mall, minimum wage at all of them, and the bus came intermittently - sometimes not at all. The cliche of eating Ramen to survive was my real life - Ramen and store-brand soda and Little Debbie snacks, because they were affordable.

During that time, I wrote a short story about two guys my age - 19 going on 20. It was the first time I used my own name as the lead character's name in a story. Kev was the hero of the piece, sort of. He has a work friend named Wade, a miserable, sad wretch of a guy, who tries to kill himself in Kevin's car. A melee ensues. Things end up okay. Back then, it was wish fulfillment. The last line of the story is, "This kid's got places to go." And I did. I ended getting out of the rooming house I was in and moving into a studio. I got out of the relationship I was in that ... he wasn't a bad guy, we just were wrong for each other. I made my life better through sheer force of will, which made me believe that Kev was the main character, and that knowing he was on the righteous path was enough.

But it wasn't.

Wade appeared again in a novel I wrote a decade later, a very long book called The Legend of Jenny McCabe. He's had a rocky road to get where he was. Along the way, he's discovered some weird sexual stuff about himself. And he's become a chef. It was around this time that I started to realize what that long-ago short story, called "Last Night at the Bear," was really all about. Kevin was who I wanted to be. Wade was who I was. And in 2007, Wade was still who I was.

I'm entering into a new novel called Eating Animals, whose title is a bit of a description and a bit of a metaphor. In the book, Wade has to go back home to confront his dying father - a father he hasn't seen since 1997. And I realized that this was the perfect time for me to actually go back and confront the guy I was back then. I kept records and journal entries and stories from 1997. I want to know who I was then, and how that's shaped who I am now. I want to figure out Wade from two different sides of the spectrum.

I'm nervous to start. That's part of why I decided to set this up as a Kickstarter - because I always finish my Kickstarter projects, meaning that having an advance on this book means I have a responsibility to write it. If you'd like to help me on this journey into my past, why not kick a few dollars my way? Check out the project, watch my goofy video, and consider backing me. I'd really appreciate it, and thank you!

Eating Animals, by Kevin Quigley: A Kickstarter Project

Monday, February 2, 2015

Eating Animals: Kev's writing a new book!

Hey everyone!

The world of publishing is changing, and on my long, rocky trip through it, I'm changing, too. It used to be that publishers, upon accepting a new novel, would provide an advance for the writer in order to keep writing and focus on her or his craft. That doesn't happen as much anymore, and as self-publishing has gained both traction and legitimacy, I think it's important to maintain some hold on what originally made publishing so great.

I write books. I write a lot of books. Eating Animals will be my twenty-first novel. In the past, I've gone the more traditional route with publishers. Sometimes I've gotten published, sometimes I haven't. It's always a crapshoot. You do it because you love the work, you love the craft, and you love the sense of accomplishment watching the stuff in your mind coming together on the page. It's a thrill unmatched anywhere else.

But it sure isn't lucrative.

Eating Animals is a passion project for me. It involves a character named Wade Gimble I've had in my mind since 1997, when I wrote my first short story about him. Since, I've touched on him lightly in other books, but I've never really explored who he was - and, by extension, who I was - when I first made him up. I want to go back to those two young guys, both the nascent character and the nascent me, and find out who they were, and why they needed each other then. It's also a book about chefs, and cooking, and fathers and sons, and the sometimes destructive nature of love. Some of it's gonna hurt, but I'm aiming for laughs.

Why should you support me? Because even though I write my books for free and for me, sometimes it helps to have a little more money to keep the gears turning. I do a lot of work every day, and I don't get paid for any of the creative stuff. It'd be nice to have that advance, in order to keep doing what I love, and in order to feel like what I'm doing is worth it.

Thanks for supporting me, and my novel. Eating Animals is going to be a rollercoaster of writing, and I'm glad to have you with me for the ride.

Eating Animals is on Kickstarter!