Writing is a funny thing. I spent nineteen years with an idea in my head. Then I spend over 2.5 years writing the story behind that idea and now I feel afraid to release the novel, Dim speak, into the wild. What’s strange, I don’t fear people not liking it or criticizing it. I think it’s a bit of an odd duck as far as novels are concerned and such things are always polarizing. I fully expect it to get wildly differing reviews.
What I think I fear the most is charging money for it. I fully believe artists should be compensated for their work. They should be able to make a living at their passion. I fear taking people’s money and having them find no artistry in the work.
Mind you, I didn’t write a literary novel. I didn’t write Dim Speak with the intent of, well, whatever intent there is when writing a literary novel. Depressing the reader and beating them over the head with a singular theme if I’m not mistaken. Seriously, that’s all I ever get out of the classics, and I wanted to write something completely the opposite of that.
I wrote a fantasy parody. Non-derivative, both in the sense that it is not a parody of another work and it doesn’t spoof for the sake of being silly. I try to write all the gags in the context of a serious story, which from time to time, does not take itself seriously. Again, that’s the point, because one of my goals in this work was to write a parody of life itself. We can’t take it seriously all the time, or we’d all just go bonkers.
My two biggest influences, not surprisingly, come from my teenage years of reading. Piers Anthony and the first dozen or so Xanth novels, along with another dozen or so of his books. And Robert Asprin with his Myth series. Alas, both of these authors loved their puns, while I loathe puns. They’re what finally made me give up on the Xanth novels; too many puns running around.
Asprin was less prolific with them, allowing me to read just about everything he wrote. His Myth novels, while a whole lot of fun, suffered from consistency. However, that wasn’t the point of those stories. The Myth novels were about friends and their relationships with each other. I find the friendship between Aahz and Skeeve to be one of the most influential in my real day-to-day friendships. Those are the type of relationships I personally seek.
Dim Speak has no puns, but I tried to land it squarely in between these two authors’ works. I like to think the story is serious in the way most of the Xanth novels are serious and fun in the way the Myth novels are fun. I also like to think I kept the story consistent. I don’t foresee the savvy of the modern reader forgiving the gaping plot holes for which Mr. Asprin was guilty. Most importantly of all, the story is about the friendship between Chip and Faith. Because these two are of the opposite sex, naturally there will be an extra layer of sexual tension, at least for Chip, but my ultimate goal is to create a friendship between the two characters as deep as the one between Aahz and Skeeve.
I think the bulk of my fear comes from my childhood misconceptions about these works. Twenty-plus years ago, I treated these kinds of books as silly diversions, nothing deep and meant to be fun. I didn’t recognize the artistry. As an adult, now that I have written a story like this for myself, I know I am attempting to follow in the steps of giants. I think my biggest fear is that it will take another twenty years for me to capture the same artistry that Mr. Anthony and Mr. Asprin managed to capture.