So…here we go. First up–the second installment of Grymwyck. The first book in the series was just published and made available on lulu.com, and it went so well that I’m really eager to continue. I’m not sure yet of the title, but the plotline will deal with the journey back home by the heroine, Belinda Nathan, to get her possessions together for the move to Grymwyck, so that she can take up her duties as Margaret Wetherby’s personal secretary.
In the process, more will be revealed about Belinda’s past, including her relationship with Sean Fellowes, her ex-boyfriend, who is briefly mentioned in Arrival. Sean and Belinda will meet up unexpectedly, and Belinda will literally run from him. Back at Grymwyck, she will face more drama from the various residents; Katherine will be in rare form as jealousy takes over when Lucas offers Belinda an old manuscript to proofread, and at the end of the episode, a character will fall deathly ill. Hint: it’s not Margaret, who will only be glimpsed briefly in this one…her shadow will fall throughout, however, as Belinda argues with herself as to whether she really saw what she thinks she did at the end of Arrival, when she stood outside of Margaret’s room. This second book will have the same format as the first, with photography of the character sculptures against miniature backgrounds as illustrations.
WeeWee and Somebody is a direct throwback to my childhood, when I did a lot of cartooning and sketching. I did a whole series of drawings around this duo…a living popsicle named WeeWee and his witchlike friend/mother figure, simply known as Somebody. These cartoons were a huge hit with my parents and relatives, and when I had a dream about them the other night, I thought maybe it was time to revive them. My intention is to make WeeWee and Somebody the subjects of a children’s book that adults can appreciate…or an adult’s book that children can appreciate. This time around, WeeWee will be a very reclusive ten-year-old boy who gained his nickname through being unusually small at birth. (Also, he can’t hit the commode when he pees.)
WeeWee’s parents are getting a divorce, and he is sent to live for a while with his aunt, whom his parents have always scornfully described as “trying to be somebody”. Aunt Somebody is a tart-tongued wealthy matron, former actress and recovered alcoholic who begins to develop a meaningful friendship with WeeWee…until her estranged daughter returns suddenly, demanding money, and threatening to publish a tell-all memoir of her childhood, during which her mother was tyrannical and abusive, if she doesn’t get it. The illustrations in this book, I think, will be simple pen-and-ink sketches, in homage to the story’s original conception as a comic strip. Also, I have plans to publish the story chapter by chapter in blog format, and then in book form when completed.
My next project–the true centerpiece of this “season”, will be considerably darker…quite possibly the darkest I have ever attempted, and I only hope that I have the fortitude to see it through. Echo Forest–A Film in Print, will have as its foundation the true story of sixteen-year-old Sylvia Likens, who was tortured to death by her caregiver, Gertrude Baniszewski, and her children in Indianapolis in 1965. The case has haunted me ever since I first learned of it when a friend of mine sent me the link for the trailer of a recent film based on it, titled An American Crime.
This is the trailer for The Girl Next Door, another film (oddly enough, released during the same year as AAC–2007) which is based on horror author Jack Ketchum’s fictionalization of the case.
I don’t plan to dramatize or fictionalize Likens’s ordeal; rather, I would like to go a step further and use it as a cautionary tale for the leading character in my own story, Kit MacGuire, who is being severely abused by her father. In nearby Echo Forest stands an old house where a young girl named Susan suffered a fate similar to that of Likens at the hands of her stepmother and stepsiblings. Kit eventually enters the house out of curiosity, and experiences a flashback in time to when Susan was murdered. The experience shows her, uncompromisingly, what could happen to Kit herself if she doesn’t inform the authorities of her father’s treatment, which, until now, she has been too proud to do. The graphics of the “film” will be of digital photographs of mixed-media dioramas and miscellaneous stock images, and drawings.
I’ve often thought about creating a fictional sleuth to appear in several shorter stories, a la Agatha Christie with Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Julian Mumford, a youngish, dry-witted, rather prickly gay writer, is my own sleuth (and alter ego). Instead of the detective angle, though, I would like to make Julian more of a “reconstructor” of the crimes and their backstories. The stories’ appeal won’t be so much in the whodunit as the why and howdunit. Through Julian’s creative speculation, all is revealed…with a disclaimer, of course, that he has taken liberties with the actual facts of the cases, some of which are never disclosed. I have three to five short plays in the trunk that would benefit well from this format; murder mysteries that don’t quite stand on their own well enough to be developed fully. With Mr. Mumford on board, however, I think they could be quite entertaining. The stories would, over time, involve everything from poisoned wine to a ghostly figure in waterfront fog to a homage to Psycho. Julian Mumford Mysteries will be a photonovel anthology, with the characters and settings created in miniature dioramas and digitally photographed…except for Julian himself. I’m toying with the idea of inserting fragmentary photos of my own features and hands to represent Julian. I would like to set the stories in my local area of Ohio, and have already begun creating a fictional town, Autumn Woods, for this purpose.
Rounding out the season will be Closing Night–A Play with Pictures, which will be something of a comedy-mystery focusing on a murder during a final dress rehearsal of an awful play. The story will focus less on the actual murder and investigation than the various personalities in the theatre where the play is being performed; the actors, the director, the tech people, and all the insanity and eccentricity behind what it means to be part of show business. Having spent many years as an actor myself, I feel confident that I’ve seen more than enough to be able to make the story realistic…and fun. The script will be enhanced by unpainted sculptures of the characters, photographed in black-and-white on a minimalist background/set.
I aim to self-publish all of these works except the play, Closing Night, preferring to wait until it gets a production and therefore, gets a final polishing.
So, there it is…I’m going to be busy, and I’m excited. As I mentioned, I feel I’m looking at close to two years to realize, fully, all of these projects, but this may vary according to their degree of difficulty and/or other events in my life. In any case, I’ll do my best to post updates on each one when the time comes. 😉