I want to talk a little bit about 69B. You’ve been there, haven’t you? You know the apartment building on Carmichael Street? Yeah, that one, the scene of the murders…
69B started out as an idea. I had written the first thirty or so pages and put it aside. I had just finished writing a novel called The Other Side of Oz. I wanted to write something completely different while I waited for the novel to be edited. I stumbled upon the old manuscript and thought it would be a neat premise for a serial novel. I wanted to keep busy while I was waiting and though it would be fun.
I had no idea how long it would be, I gave myself a goal of 20, 000 words. And whereas my Oz book was magical realism, 69B would be my take on horror movies-that was the general idea. It didn’t turn out that way though. The first issue being is that people kept living.
My ordinal intent was to introduce the characters in the first part, kill most of them off in the second and let the third part be mostly about Oliver. When I began 69B, Oliver had no last name.
He was a character from two of my previous novella: 12 and 12 + 1. I wanted to find out what would happen to a guy like that. I knew that he would end up being something like Freddy meets the SAW movies. That was the intent. What came out instead was more about the characters.
My books have always been about the people that live in them. Yes, it’s about the story as a whole, but my philosophy (in reading and writing) is you have to care about the characters first. That’s true here, maybe too much. I felt kind of bad just killing these people off after just introducing them; I wanted to give some of them a fighting chance. Most of them kept living when they should have died and then the novel really took off, proving that the author doesn’t have as much control over his or her characters as first thought. Originally, I had intended to have five characters alive at the end of the novel: Shane, Justin, Rex, Barbarella, LaWanda.
Towards the middle of the novel, I thought it would be fun to see how long I could keep it going, inviting people to submit character sketches for a chance to be in the novel. I only had one person submit a character sketch and added another in myself. The interactivity didn’t pan out how I thought it would but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. The same friend that submitted the character sketch pointed out that it would be impossible to keep the novel going forever and I would eventually have to think of an ending.
So I had another idea. I would encourage interactivity another way. I would share the story. Yes, the story was free to read on the blog itself, but I’m a big lover of eBooks and I love free ones. So I offered the Acts for free download, each put up as it was done. I’m going to 69B a touch up and then offer the whole book for free as well. Why? I was writing it to have fun, so why not?
When I arrived at the beginning of Act Three, I still had no concrete idea about how to end it, but as I wrote an idea began to take shape. What if fighting against what I wanted to do, I let the characters tell me? I knew that they would prefer that good triumphed over evil. I wasn’t sure how many people would die in the end and even some of the characters I killed off worked their way back on to the pages.
A vague idea for an ending began to make itself known and I wondered how I would write it. I let go completely and let the characters tell the story they wanted, something I’m usually loathe to do. Turns out, they knew what they wanted to do all along, I just had to let them.
Did I get to every story line that I left hanging? I think so, but there might still one or two left dangling or ones that didn’t work out how I had originally intended. And that’s just how it has to be. It’s the nature of a serial novel in that it’s unpredictable, but I still had an absolute blast.
And I hope you do, too! All three Acts of 69B are now available to download in PDF format. Coming soon, the whole book in epub and mobi formats. You can download and read 69B here: www.69banovel.wordpress.com
Welcome to 69B-I hope you enjoy your stay.