Milo Hunter is a shy, intellectual outsider trying to make it through the first semester of his freshman year in college. Unbeknownst to him, he is in the eye of a multi-generational storm of murder, mayhem and mysticism that will forever change his life and the lives of everyone around him. Can he vanquish evil and work up the courage to have a conversation with a member of the opposite sex? Will he be able to avert the upcoming apocalypse and pass his classes?
That is sort of what this is book is about. Just your typical coming of age story. With explosions. And swordfights, secret conspiracies, and ice cream, and a whole lot of other stuff I think is cool but can't tell you about because I've given too much away already! Just read it, okay?
The High Concept
Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Illuminatus! Trilogy.
Why a Serial?
Back in the day, the writing of Charles Dickens was the equivalent of TV shows like Lost, 24, or any other series that keeps us coming back week after week to find out the latest revelation, or to see if our favorite characters have miraculously escaped certain death.
Dickens didn't write the massive novels that we see his work as today. He wrote serials. Week after week, readers would come back to find out what happened next. They'd discuss the latest events in the series around whatever they had for water coolers in the 1800's. They would write Dickens letters, pleading with him not to kill their favorite characters, and they'd riot when the latest issue of the magazine carrying the latest chapter of the serial came out. The novels gathered together these serials into one compact form.
Dickens was one of many. Edgar Rice Burroughs and E. E. "Doc" Smith are just two American writers whose greatest creations, Tarzan and the Lensman series, appeared as serials before they were collected into novels.
I decided to give it a try! Although I am sure there are others, the only recent serialized novel that I've seen in recent years was Stephen King's The Green Mile which was originally published in six volumes. The Green Mile was a big dissappointment. It was a fine novel, poignant, moving, depressing as anything. But it didn't take advantage of the form. It was just a novel that was broken up into small bites. It seemed to me like it should be possible to have a whole lot more fun with it.
Unfortunately, I can't read Dickens or Burroughs or Doc Smith in their original format. So for inspiration, I turned to the serials that used to be shown before the feature presentation at the movies in the 30s and 40s.
Those serials followed important rules: every episode had to end with a big cliffhanger. Subsequent week's cliffhangers had to outdo the previous week's cliffhangers. The final episode had to have an epic spactacular finish that outdid everything that came before. Each episode also had to have a revelation, some new fact that changes both the characters and the way the audience thinks of them. And if the revelation completely contradicted previous revelations, so much the better!
That was my goal in writing Castles, to create something purely entertaining, with cliffhangers and revelations that would make the reader wait eagerly for next week's episode. I'm not breaking new ground here, but revisiting ideas so old they seem new again. This is just for fun. Enjoy!
The inerpretation of the Tarot that the episodes reference is Aliester Crowley's Thoth deck. This is my preferred deck. Some of the meanings and cards may be unfamiliar, however. A number to Tarot decks remind me of the one used by a character in the book Good Omens, where the Tarot reader has removed all the cards that people might find upsetting from the deck she uses. The Thoth deck can be the most negative of any deck, but I also find it the most honest.