I finished the first draft of The Hunters last night and will begin work on the second draft today. So during this brief intermission, I figured I'd take the time now to talk about the history of The Hunters, from its conception, to what it is becoming.
About eight or ten years ago, when I was still trying to breakthrough into the magazine market, I came across Hungur Magazine. They publish vampire stories with a twist, which was right up my alley since I'm not a fan of the Ann Rice vampires and I've never seen or read Twilight and never will. I'm more of a Bram Stoker/GRRM(Fevre Dream) type of fan. And while I've always wanted to write a vampire tale, that kind of thing has been done to death and I couldn't find a way to make it unique. Until I came upon Hungur Magazine. The twist in their tales is that the vampire story has to be told within the context of the broader realms of speculative Fiction, including sci-fi and alternative history to name a few.
My interest piqued, I thought about what kind of story I could write in that regard. Back then I was almost strictly a fantasy writer, but a fantasy vampire story felt too humdrum. So then I got to thinking about a sci-fi setting, and after a few false starts I started thinking about what if "alien" vampires invaded Earth...then I thought, too hokey. So then I thought, what if there were "regular" vampires and humans battling on a fictional world and then "alien" vampires invade, causing the "regular" vamps and humans to work together to defeat them, and then I thought, what if the humans were the original "aliens" from way back when and then that led to the story growing way out of proportion and I had to remind myself that I needed to think "bigger idea, smaller scale".
So I extracted some notes from my mind and put them on paper and felt that I could finally stick this masterpiece within the confines of a 4k word short story. I don't remember how long it took me to write it, maybe under a month, but I got her done and sent it to the editor. A few weeks later she returned a response, telling me the story was good, but that I needed to fix some "pacing issues" and asked if I could give it a rewrite and resend. I told her I could but for the life of me, as I read the story over a hundred times, I couldn't find the "pacing issues" nor could I find any areas to improve. Nevertheless, I gave it a rewrite, changing some minor things, changing some time frames, and then I resent with fingers crossed.
Again, a few weeks later, the editor got back to me and said something to the effect of, "...while the story is intriguing, there's still something wrong with it that I can't put my finger on. I'm sorry, but I'm gonna have to pass..." I wasn't upset or anything, since rejection is a part of most writers' lives, but I do wish the critique had been a little less vague. I had a hard enough time fixing "pacing issues" never mind "something wrong". I still felt that the story was a good one, but that it was too weird and different to submit anywhere else; I mean it's hard enough to sell a "sci-fi vampire story" never mind a "sci-fi vampire story with something wrong". So instead if submitting elsewhere, I buried it in my files and played taps over it with a heavy heart.
Life went on. But The Hunters refused to stay dead.
So three or four years after my first attempt to have it published, I performed the rites and had it resurrected. And beneath the rotting flesh and grave worm nests, I found the "something wrong". And it was glaringly. Choppy dialogue, thin scenes, passive tense, pacing issues galore; this baby was no Dracula. Why was I seeing it now? Simple: in my natural progression as a writer, I became a better writer.
Setting aside all other projects, I gave Hunters a massive rewrite, transforming it into a concise, flowing, masterpiece. I submitted it to Hungur again, this time accompanied by a sheepishly written cover later, reintroducing myself to the editor and telling her "Yes, this is the same story that you rejected twice all those years ago, but trust me, it's better". A few weeks later I got her response: she said, yes it was good, but asked if I could work on how the "solution" was made and fix some "timing issues".
Ok then. I reread and reread and then I addressed the issues, then reread and reread again to make sure there weren't anymore, resent, and then BAM! Contract! The Hunters was finally published in the April 2011 edition of Hungur. Here's the cover below.
For those interested, you might still be able to get a copy somewhere. There is one minor spoiler in regards to the story being written, but it's only minor.
But now that The Hunters had been brought into the world, there was more to the story that had to be told. So I began work on a short story sequel but the sequel grew bigger and bigger and eventually ran away from me.
It was around early last year that it finally returned, and it brought friends with it. Which brings us to the present. The Hunters is now a full-fledged trilogy in the making and the entire story will finally be able to be told. Applause all around.
And the story continues.