Fireworks, for the new Markhat book THE FIVE FACES has been accepted!
That shriek you heard today was me, upon reading an email from my lovely editor at Samhain. The new Markhat book, THE FIVE FACES, has been accepted.
Edits and second edits and yet more more edits (i.e., work) will soon begin, but now it's time to emulate Snoopy and do the Jubilant Dance of Selling a Novel.
This will mark the 8th entry in the Markhat titles. What started as a novella in the long-since defunct print magazine Adventures of Sword and Sorcery is now a full-blown series, complete with supporting characters, an overall story arc, a chronology that gives me fits, and the opportunity to write as many Markhat books as I can until A) I die or B) the publisher says 'no.'
I dug out my tattered copy of the Adventures of Sword and Sorcery featuring the original Markhat story, The Mister Trophy. There's a man and a Troll on the cover, although it's not an actual scene from the story, and anyway my Troll knees are jointed backwards from ours.
But it was a big deal, seeing my name on a cover. And there was interior artwork!
The art was by George Barr, and he's probably most famous for his work illustrating Dungeons and Dragons manuals. But his art has also graced a multitude of books covers and prints, so scoring a George Barr illustration was a real honor.
That story also saw the first sighting of a Markhat witticism. In the story, a Troll shows up looking for Markhat, and naturally the Troll finds him in a bar.
The Troll proceeds to describe his long, arduous journy from Troll country and through the devastated Kingdom of Man and finally to Rannit and Markhat. Because that's how my Trolls talk -- a Troll would never come out and say 'I am here on urgent business.' Instead, the Troll would describe the many obstacles he faced just getting there to tell his story.
Markhat knows just enough about Troll culture to understand this. And he knows to respond in kind. After all, the Troll weighs a ton and half and stands ten feet tall and could pull the bar down to the ground without any real exertion.
But Markhat is Markhat, and he can't resist the urge to tweak even a Troll's nose, so his reply to the Troll's retelling of his journey is this:
Which the magazine editor, Randy Dannenfelser, saw fit to stick in a page-block. Because he thought it was funny.
I mention this because Randy taught me an important lesson here, and the lesson is this:
If you can make a harried, hard-bitten editor laugh at a line of dialog, you can get paid for it.
And of course it goes farther than that. The Markhat series deals with some heavy themes -- loss. Guilt. Rage. Betrayal. Death. Addiction. Aging.
But Markhat keeps the wise-cracks coming, even when facing down Troll five times his size. Why does he do that?
Because Markhat sees all the bad, and it weighs on him, every moment, every day. But he's not quite ready to give in to the emptiness. So when he gets the opportunity, he looks the implacable, unbeatable world square in the eye and he tells it what it can do with its dreadful algebras and inescapable losses.
I think that's why the humor works. Because he's mocking awful things, and they deserve to be mocked, right up until the end.
So now that THE FIVE FACES is sold, I can reveal the working title of the Markhat work-in-progress. Drumroll, please:
THE DARKER CARNIVAL
Yep. This time Markhat visits a traveling carnival in search of a runaway daughter. And if you think the traveling carnival is merely a rag-tag collection of happy misfits plying their trade from town to town for the innocent amusement of their visitors, well, you haven't read much Markhat.
If you haven't read much Markhat, please click here to get started.
This has been a rough few weeks. Getting good news felt so refreshing, I will close today with this:
A CAVALCADE OF COVERS
And now, coming soon, THE FIVE FACES!
Please feel free to join me in a heartfelt WOOHOO!