Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I have begun working on a romantic fantasy, and as a result have engaged in world building...sort of. It started with a short story, then at Kate's urging, it exploded in a different direction until I had a novel begging to be written. Of course, I'm still marketing "Palpable Illusion," working on "Food For The Flies", revising and hopefully sending out "Dark Haven" by summer's end. "Dark Haven" is probably the most marketable, being about a haunting in a domestic violence shelter. Anyway, the new book, which isn't titled yet, features a character whom I created about twenty five years ago when he appeared in the first novel I attempted to write: "White Raven".

Allow me to emphasize that I am not rewriting "White Raven" now. I have always maintained "White Raven" will be the last novel I write. I have held off working on it. Maybe when I'm eighty-five. I'm so paranoid about that novel, that I nixed adding Greljo Satori as a character to the new novel.
Some of you seeing the name Satori will think: "Ah, so that's why he uses the name Satori." Yep, Wayne, that's where comes from.

So permit me to introduce Levon, not exactly as he will appear in the soon to be outlined novel, but as he appeared in the short story which ignited the novel. You'll also notice a picture of Bud Cort from "Harold and Maude". That's because I usually pick a film character for a visual which matches the character. Forgive me for not including more of the story, but I still intend on submitting it around:

“Where are you going, Levon? What, without your breakfast?” His mother surprised him as he tried slipping out the door. He flinched and mumbled:

“I’m going downtown.”

“Downtown? What’s downtown? Are you going to the doctor’s?”

Late spring sifted through the screen door; he inhaled green and yearned for the feel of dew.

“No, I’m not going to the doctor’s.”

“Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m fine, Mom. You don’t need me hanging around here feeling sorry for myself.”

“You’ve never felt sorry for yourself. I would have felt better if you had.”

Levon smiled, reaching for his mother. “I have you to feel sorry for me. Two of us would be over the top.”

He looked at his mother with youthful eyes that belied the terrible missteps he had taken over the last seven years. At thirty one, with a face that appeared barely touched by manhood, he found himself returned to his parents’ home, a survivor of a failed marriage and a ravaging illness, without savings and without employment. He wasn’t sure what he had hoped for in moving back in with his parents, but he hadn’t found it. He didn’t regret it. He didn’t regret anything in his life.

His mother studied his face and for a horrible moment he thought she would enfold him in her arms. Instead she gave him a gentle push toward the door. “Go downtown.”

He nodded. “I’ll be back after dinner.”

“You come back when you’re ready,” she said, and added: “Tough it out.”

That last phrase alarmed him. That was something she said when his life was most difficult to bear. She spoke those words when his wife left him for another man; when his employer let him go from his job after ten years; and before the cancer surgery when there was no insurance to cover the hospital bills. She intoned those words like a solemn prayer. Tough it out.

Levon remembered her at his bed side in the hospital, stroking his face and speaking to him in a gentle, worried tone. “I used to be so afraid of losing you when you were a baby. You laughed so much, and you hardly ever cried,” she said. “I was terrified I’d look in your cradle and find you gone. You were such a good child; I used to think so much goodness had to be punished. It all balances. I believe that. I keep waiting to see what will happen now to make up for all you’ve been through.”

“I don’t think life’s been unfair to me, Mom.”

“That’s what’s so unfair,” she said. “Tough it out, Levon.”


Lucas Pederson said...

Amazing. The imagery here was spectacular. I'd love to see what the novel will turn out like. You've already started building you character's personality, and I like it. Sometimes it takes a while to get the personality of a charcter to really shine through, but this was done in what? A paragrph or two? Amazing. Good luck with that novel. You've already got me craving more.

JR's Thumbprints said...

If it were my story, which it isn't, I'd have Levon going downtown to rob a bank or murder someone. Of course, his mother would say, "I don't know what happened. He's such a nice boy." Good luck shopping your manuscripts around.

Holly Kennedy said...

I agree with Lucas. Great imagery and a definitive personality already standing out on the page. I wish you the best with it, Stewart. I like what you've done here.

Susan Miller said...

I am already drawn to his character and the relationship he has with his Mom. So few words and I'm already there. Amazing. Always a pleasure, Stu.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Thanks Lucas. This short story was a good deal of fun, but it always seemed to just miss. As I thought about trying to put a novella together for a challenge I knew I didn't have enough time to write, I returned to the story. It exploded on me. bank robbery. In the story he gets on a bus and is approached by an old woman who is the catalyst for his discovery that he is a faerie, a changling. The story is lyrical and the conflict slight, mostly interior. It leaves too many questions unresolved.

Holly, thanks. I appreciate the feedback,.

Sue. I'm glad you like it. Levon is a character I can enjoy writing about. Maloney is such a foul individual. Loathsome. I desperately wanted to write about Greljo Satori, but I am terrified about putting him and Levon in a book together. Even without the title, that would be White Raven.

Nosjunkie said...

This has nothing to do with your post but when you mentioned that you created the character it reminded me of a creative writing class that I attended.
We were asked to describe a character. The character had to have phisical and emotional characteristics.
Then we were asked to read what we had writen and in the end everybodies character tended to be a fictional exageration of ourselves
weird huh?

DesLily said...

it's strange how things can explode like that.. one minute nothing and the next you can't write fast enough!

I read one blog where someone finally got published.. with any luck you will be next! keep marketing!!!!

SQT said...

In the story he gets on a bus and is approached by an old woman who is the catalyst for his discovery that he is a faerie, a changling.

Now this I would have like to have read.

I think the story needs to have some reason for all hard times he's going through. It kind of reminds me of the beginning of "Romancing the Stone" when the voice-over is from the book Kathleen Turner's character just finished.

That was the end of Grogan,
the man who killed my father,
raped and murdered my sister,
burned my ranch,shot my dog and stole my Bible.

thepinkangel said...

sounds like a good story. I'm curious why you chose this portion of the story to post?

Stewart Sternberg said...

thanks you nosjunkie. I think that would be an intersting assignment. You know, most writers take parts of themselves and impart their characters with these traits. I suppose I do too.

From your lips to God's ears. Or to some High Power..or to a randomly ordered universe..or..whatever. Thanks.

SQT...the story was only the germ of the novel, and this excerpt only a little sliver of the story. The character is experiencing all this because he is out balance. A faerie being forced to try and live the life of a human. The novel is much broader, with a faerie war being waged in the street, a bittersweet love triangle between the main character, a sweet faerie who is his echo (a concept in the book), and dashing charming hero type. It also involves a plot by the protagonists' counterpart (who was a human raised by faeries) to drain the world's magic using microchips and dragons...go figure. It will be at times a whimsical novel, with an enormous back story so that if I choose, I can write a few sequels. Hear that publishers????? This is going to be one fat marketable little book.

pinkangel, I published here a small portion of the short story to show the germ for the novel. I didn't want to publish the whole short story here because I still want to market it and can't sell first rights if it is first on my blog. However, if you want me to send you the whole short story, I would be happy to do so.

I also did it as an exercise in character development. Also, seeing the character in this short excerpt, looking at the face, gave me a more solid feel. It helped me as part of the writing process. It allowed me, too, to allow reader to my blog, into part of the thought process that goes with my writing.

Jim Miller is always asking me process questions. How do you plot your novels? How do you develop your characters? Etc...etc...

Charles Gramlich said...

A good realistic scene. I wonder how it fits in with the novel since there's no evidence here that he's more than a normal human. Well written.

SQT said...

I hope you don't mind me teasing you a little bit Stewart.

You always write very well and this is just a brief snippet of what sounds like an extraordinary and fascinating book. It's not often fans of fantasy like myself get a whole lot that's very original so I am looking forward to seeing more.

Stewart Sternberg said...

SQT ..tease me whenever and however you want.

Charles, thanks..I have been thinking in terms of broader meaning. When I jump into detailed outlining, the mother will be a Goddess figure.

Levon doesn't begin his magical adventure until getting on the city bunch and being approached by an old lady. It's hill "call to adventure"

Kate S said...

Still urging...

Need to learn to control my urges. :)

I'm looking forward to the final product, Stewart!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I'd definitely like to read more. You've made me care about him (and his mother) in just a few graphs.

Good luck telling their story.

Travis said...

When I read this last night, it brought back some memories. I identify with the character quite intensely.

This little bite makes me ask questions about the character and want to find out more. And then when you throw the twist, well now I want the whole book.