THE MAKING OF “MEMENTO MORI” – The Creative Process
Make no mistake; this book was the most difficult book that I’ve ever written. A combination of unrealistic expectations, uncertainty about the direction of the book, and a whole host of other reasons are why I make that declaration. The goal was to have the book published by the end of the year; I was starting from scratch. I’d scrapped five different beginnings for the book including nearly two hundred pages of previously written material. A good deal of it was written before “Vox” was published. Want to know why?
“Memento Mori: Book 3” is a prequel to “Vox: Book 1”. It details the events that happened in Seraphim City with Torrent as the antagonist. This also introduces some characters who showed up at the end of “Aequitas: Book 2”. Basically, if you want to read the books in chronological order, you want to start with Book 3, then Book 1, and Book 2. Confused yet? Me, too.
When I started writing “Memento Mori” the first time, I had a very different idea in mind. It didn’t take itself nearly as seriously as the book does now. It wasn’t as dark and it had a subplot very similar to the one that I ended up using in “Vox”. I had to ultimately scrap a character and make-over a couple more in order to begin anew. The premise? Torrent tries to destroy Seraphim City; our heroes have to stop him.
Last year, I had a dream that involved investigating a series of buildings in the English countryside. The rooms in these buildings were full of strange items, taxidermy, dust, books, and shadows that never moved even when the light came in. I was fascinated and scared by it and once I awoke, I realized that this had the potential to be a very interesting story. I’d intended to write it as a short story with possible ties to another one that I was writing. As the characters developed on Memento Mori, I discovered that this was the plot piece I was missing in the book. The protagonist, Whitaker, who is an architect would naturally be curious about a strange house and therefore, would investigate it. So, I incorporated the dream into the book and tweaked it a little here and there.
There were many things that I wanted to incorporate. The house and the characters that it belongs to, the Dawsons, had been a sole focus in the short story but only had an appearance in the novel. The original short story was partly historical fiction, taking place before World War I and while I wasn’t able to include that in Memento Mori, I have plans to write a companion piece later that will do the Dawson family justice.
When I write, I prefer to write to music. Because of the various characters and backgrounds depicted, I listened to everything from classical, to metal, to dark ambient and even Electro Cumbia (that scene didn’t make it into the final manuscript). Usually once I’ve established a mood set by a song, I find it easier to write because I can see what’s actually happening. One such instance happens during chapter 19 (the chapter that scares me to death), where I listened to Kyrie by Gyorgy Ligeti (from 2001: A Space Odyssey) for hours. It is literally one of the scariest songs I’ve ever listened to.
I finally finished writing the story in September 2014. The novel was 116,000 words and 31 chapters long; my longest book to date. I knew it would need a lot of editing. I spent the next couple of months feverishly working on it night and day. There were times when I slept four or five hours at night and would fight migraines and aggravated shoulder muscles with tons of Tylenol. Coffee was a fr-enemy. In the morning it gave me the boost I needed, but at night…it just made me sick.
There were a lot of things about “Memento Mori” that made me nervous. It is a very dark book and the main theme surrounds death. It’s what the title means “Remember you will die”. I had to take breaks from it, which left me with less time to finish the book. But there is more to this book than just death. A number of these characters are lilitu (vampires) and have, in a sense, already died. They have to continuously grapple with their inner monster and what humanity they’ve tried to hold onto. Every character has a very human reason for what they’re doing. Some don’t understand it; some don’t know whether the monster or the man is in control. Each character in the novel examines death from different viewpoints as it has effected their lives in different ways.
I promise; I’m really not obsessed with death.
The novel is just as much about life as it is about death. It is about learning to cope with what has happened to these characters, regardless of what they’ve gone through. Each of them learn this in various ways, both wrong and right. How the events in this book factor into their characters will be something that stays with them through the Monstrum Chronicles series. No one gets out of this book untarnished.
Interested in picking up the Monstrum Chronicles? “Vox: Book 1” is 99 cents today and “Aequitas: Book 2” is only 99 cents. Memento Mori: Book 3 released today! $3.99 for Kindle! Make sure you snap up a copy of each today and tune into the MEMENTO MORI Release Day events going on on Facebook. Click here to check it out!
More blogs to come today as we celebrate “MEMENTO MORI”! Stay tuned!