Thursday, April 23, 2009

Meet Martin Black

I believe this is the first time I've ever shown, displayed, posted, or shared anything from this particular part of my creative mind. It falls pretty solidly into the "urban fantasy" genre, and is the only thing I've written that does. Its working title is The Wyrd Magnet.

I actually don't usually care for urban fantasy; too much of it reads like everything else. For all I know, this will, too. Anyone familiar with Simon R. Green's "Nightside" series may sense some comparisons. I'm cool with that; I dig the series almost as much as I dug his "Hawk and Fisher" series. But, I actually wrote this first chapter about a year before the first "Nightside" book came out. Like some of my other work, this was based on a dream. (In fact, most of Chapter One was from that dream.)

I don't know if y'all will like this at all. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I know I've got another entire chapter written, two more somewhat written, and a few planned out. The problem? They're all out of order.

I'm going to post this here, but I'll most likely only post updates in the left-hand side column. Let me know what y'all think about Martin and his world.


The Wyrd Magnet

Chapter One - Sub-culture

Club Houngan was the busiest nightclub in town, even on a Wednesday night. My cab made the turn onto Briar and pulled to a stop fifty feet or so away from the front door – about as close as we could get. A heavy line of black limousines waited, their drivers lurking protectively near them. The line to get in, which began around the corner, ended in an honest-to-God red velvet rope which was manned by a pair of bouncers that could moonlight as walls. A long canopy ran to the corner, keeping dry those fortunate enough to get inside within the next few hours or so. The rest covered themselves with umbrellas, coats, or fashion magazines. I glanced up through the car window at the three-story high building with a garish neon sign of a smiling voodoo priest atop it. The ugly red and white light of the sign reflected on the rain-slick pavement. This was the hottest club in town, and I’d just been told that an old classmate of mine owned it outright. Stranger still, that old classmate needed my help.

“Thirty-one twenty,” the driver said, turning down his pounding tech-metal music. He turned to face me. “Make it thirty-one. I don’t need your twenty cents.”

I gave him a pair of twenties: “Keep it.”

It was a decent tip, not enough to be extravagant, but enough to ensure the next time I needed this guy, I’d get him.

“Thanks, man.” The driver pushed a button and unlocked the doors. I got out and did my best to smooth out the wrinkles in my shirt and overcoat. I ran my fingers through my hair and strolled toward the head of the line. A couple of things were certain. The first is that I was at least ten years past the freshness date for this club, and I was making a bad situation an egregious one by not showing up with a bauble on my arm. The second thing I knew was that the bouncers weren’t going to be able to do a goddamn thing about it.

To continue:


  1. This reads like a parody of the Urban Fantasy genre. You have the too cool PI, with the filthy rumpled coat and bad attitude, the contrast of the mundane next to the fantastic, the blatant hint of corruption of the society. And of course there has to be a vampiric threat.
    That said, Tales from the Nightside is almost completely a parody and still a hell of a lot of fun.

    Nu-gothic! Have to love that. Just waiting to Emo-lite, with half the depression.

  2. Okay, let me start by saying that I know absolutely nothing about the urban fantasy genre, so all I can really offer is stylistic stuff...

    This reads as very polished. I can tell you've already worked out most of the kinks as far as the details go. Sometimes in Heroes I noticed that the phrasing gets a bit awkward at times, but thats not happening much here. I'm guessing you've spent a bit of time with this one, yes?

    The one part where I have a little bit of issue is with the conversation with Raymond Felske. To start, Raymond is not the one being witty in the screwing fashion bit, the protagonist is. I get that Raymond is the kind of guy that would still think that HE is the witty one and be laughing at himself, but the way its written now doesn't quite work for me.

    Then when Raymond counters to the protagonist being a "wierdness magnet" by saying "Actually my friend says I'm a wyrd magnet" I get a little bit lost. Raymond is the "wyrd magnet" or PI guy is? ...Ok, I just looked at the story again. The PI is saying that not Raymond. I'm losing the conversation in terms of who's saying what here. Need a reference to who's talking, either in that paragraph, as in he continues after getting the ashtray, or in the next it should be clear that Raymond is answering.

    Also, in the beginning he says that the bouncers aren't going to be able to do a goddamn thing about him not having any arm-candy, a little beligerent there, but then he concedes pretty quickly and grabs a girl from the line very blase-like. What's up with that?

    Another comment/question relates to the reality the story inhabits. Is it our world? Is it a parallel, since it is fantasy? If its a parallel reality I don't know exactly how well the specific references to certain celebs, magazines, songs work. The Maxim reference is ok I think, I just feel like there's a lot of specific cultural references in a short span of story, and that is rooting it closer into our world for me. I would suggest finding something that would suggest people in our world, mirroring, without specifics. Especially the Hiedi and Seal. Petra could just be a generic E. European supermodel anyway...But your other issue with this is that you are dating your work as celebs come and go, if you want it to be able to be read in 20 years H and S will be a little past there prime...or god forbid dead or something. But again, I'm not familiar with the genre, if it is common to use real-world names and reference in this kind of stuff then just ignore my two-cents:)

    The part with the woman that he knows sitting between the politicos who calls him Reverend, is this significant for later? If so that's fine, because its a pause point that stands out a bit, but otherwise it's not serving much function to move the story as it does halt the movement a little. And while I'm thinking of it, what's a judas goat? Am I just not smart enough to get that one, or do we find out later?

    Just another bit-the bouncer that says "admirably" I'm not buying it totally...have you transplanted a character over from heroes for that guy? ;)

    So in a nutshell, stylistically good, just those few points and questions really. It's got a good voice, which is also consistent. Nicely done. Very witty, and the writing and word choice is clever. I feel like it succeeds in these aims without seeming like your trying too hard and falling flat. I also get the impression that you are showcasing some of your strengths as a writer here, though I haven't read a lot of your work. I'm really interested to see where this one goes, keep us beta-readers posted!

  3. Talia,

    I've finally decided to answer this - though I really don't want to. As far as your wondering how long I've spent with're entirely wrong.

    This was a dream I had about six years ago. I wrote it the next day, and gave it one edit. I couldn't think how to finish it, so I forgot about it. About a month ago, I had another dream about Martin and another character (who would apparently appear later), and I knew where to go with this. I gave it a second, quick rewrite and posted it. That's the amount of work I've put into it.

    When I realized it was easier to read than some of the "Heroes..." things, I went ahead and posted it. It may have been a little masochistic to do so, but it bothers me that something I basically farted out comes across - in some ways - stronger than something I've spent more than 15 years working on.

    I still think "Heroes..." is my preference, and I KNOW the story and characters are better, but I'm bothered by the difficulties I've had in 'overwriting' it.

    Oh, and my concept of Urban Fantasy is to put the vampires, kobolds, and ghosts right bang-slam alongside Maxim, Heidi Klum, New Order, and everything else pop culture. It's our world - just with magic, living computers, and the undead.