I’ve always liked the name ‘Jolimont’, ever since I would walk down that street toward the Melbourne Cricket Ground to go sell pies and chips. And on the way home again, exhausted and covered in post-mix and fryer fat, I’d stumble under the sign for Jolimont Station and wait, half-dozing, for the train to come and take me away.
The darkest of the series, Jolimont takes a good look what happens when you let rumour and gossip go unchecked, when you take for granted the goodness in people, when you become confident in your own findings. Both the Professor and the narrator are blindsided by the goings on.
Yes, it was the narrator’s clumsiness that got them into that mess. It was his fault, intentional or otherwise, and so it was also his duty to rectify the situation. Does that make him evil that he unleashed the demon? I don’t think so. It makes him naive, and it shows the danger he poses if he continues to bumble about in a child-like fashion.
And so the voices needed to reflect this. Chester had that ye olde radio voice, not too hard to pull off, although I must say it was difficult to maintain.
Sergeant Hart was a little tougher. He had to be rough, yet exude that forced politeness of a man of the city. I had to imagine him in his bobby hat sporting decent hair on his lip and chin.
Something like this dude:
Lighter on the science, with more adventure, I reckon I like Jolimont the most so far, even more than Beaumaris.
As of writing this, Jolimont is out on all the major platforms. There was a delay in getting to Audible, probably because of the Corona Virus. Isn’t everything, these days?
Cue the fireworks and open the champagne. OK, maybe I’ll just crack a beer and watch Hellboy.
You see, I wanted to hold off on the release until I had all my ducks in a row. I wanted it available in printed media, as well as on Google Play and Amazon, get the webpage up, and all of that stuff, but I, um, kind of mucked up the delay thing at Smashwords and, well, long story short: it’s out.
But, hey, it’s out!
It’ll be up on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Kobo in a day or two, and I’ll update the website accordingly, but why wait? Head to Smashwords and bag yourself a free copy now! (Besides, it ain’t gonna be free on Amazon).
Third draft of Jolimont Street Ghost is done. More changes, “whoops, how’d that get in there?”, get rid of that unnecessary tosh, red pens and redder eyes.
Now I’m going to let it stew once more, while I figure out a release date, and attack the problem that, for me, is writing’s equivalent of cleaning the shower: the blurb.
It’s just a summary, right?
No. No it is not. If you’re thinking of a synopsis or a digest, that, to me, is akin to cleaning the toilet. I’ve got my own beef with synopses, but this is about the blurb.
The blurb is important. It let’s the reader know just what the book, this marvelous creation, is about. It’s a hook to get their attention and feed their curiosity. It’s a marketing tool. It’s a filter to let an audience decide if they will enjoy it. And it comes in two forms: short and very short.
The short can go onto the back of the print edition, and it’s also sent to various re-sellers. the very short is also sent to re-sellers and is what gets pushed under the nose of the audience when they click the ‘tell me more’ button. So it’s gotta be short, sweet and to the point.
Therein lies the challenge: How does one convey the subtleties of the book when they’ve got a limited character count? How does one grab the reader and say, “This book is (or is not) for you!”? How does one give a story line without giving away the punchline?
The Scene, the Theme, the Premise and the Moral
The hard work of writing the book is done, so writing less than a hundred words should be a cinch, but it ain’t. To help out, I write down the Premise, that global statement of hypothesis, that drove the book.
Then I write the moral out (which is surprisingly hard to summarise into a sentence), and put words pertaining to the theme and the scenery of the book, all in the same vernacular and perspective as the book. For example, with Paranormology, the narrator is relating a personal story from a Victorian era, hence the blurb will be a description, by him, of his tale in his manner of speech. Atlas, Broken, in contrast, is written in a third person, as an observer of Henry, in a more modern tongue.
Thus, the scribbles on my page read:
“A curse brought about by an individual can only be attended to by that individual. Rumour, gossip, conjecture, public opinion and speculation are born from assumptions. Assumptions. Science claims to make no assumptions, yet relies upon them. Light and Dark. Balance, what goes around comes around. Summoned demon, born in darkness. Occult, sorcery, physical harm, reputation harm.”
With these words and phrases, I then construct two sentences, one about the metaphysical nature of the book, and once about the physical side. In this way, I can give the reader two aspects to help them out.
“The supposition that darkness is merely the absence of light is both popular and false, as those who practise the occult can affirm.”
“In the dark cellar of number thirteen Jolimont Street, a house we had assumed benign, I unwittingly brought forth an ancient evil that threatened not only our reputations, but our souls.”
There. That’s 320 odd characters, 80 shy of the limit for the ‘very short’ version. Add in the series information, and I’ve reached my limit.
It took about an hour to write, twiddle, poke, and condense (I’ve got a little boy blowing a very loud recorder, so that skews the figures). That’s why it’s like cleaning the shower: A whole lot of scrubbing and rubbing and swearing in a cramped space, with very little at the end to show for it.
In the ‘short’ version, I’ll be able to add in another sentence or two to expand on the concepts of gossip, rumour and the like.
‘Jolimont Street Ghost’ second draft is done. Still a few things to tidy up. Still some paragraphs that need work. But now it’s time to break out the red pen.
Yeppers, it’s head down, bum up, editing hat on with some white noise flooding my ears, reading over the printed pages of the next great thing, cup of coffee dripping onto the pulp, marking little annotations with my red pen in cryptic squiggles and hieroglyphs.
There’s more to consider than just the story, though. Now that I’m at the pointy end, I need to update the Paranormology series image, figure out an actual release date rather than ‘sometime around March-ish’ – ah, a deadline.
And, you know what? I’ve been doing some thinking. This episode is in stark contrast to Grosvenor Lane, which is light-hearted and childlike. As I was doing the second draft, I realised the protagonist has grown a lot. His thoughts and attitudes are more adult and the situation he finds himself in is less Enid Blyton and more Howard Lovecraft, and this transition is palpable across the other two books.
It wouldn’t be fair to judge the series based on a single book now, would it?
So, as an extra kicker, Jolimont Street Ghost will be free.
As such, there’s no pre-release period, so I’m going to have to factor that into my release date as well.
For the next in Paranormology, I’ve gone back to the beginning in terms of my front cover, except that, unlike Grosvenor Lane Ghost, Jolimont is a fair bit darker and nastier.
Now, for the past three covers I’ve been the creepy guy curb-crawling around Essendon and Moonee Ponds looking for the appropriate house but, for this one, I needed a particular kind of townhouse: Two story, short front yard (if you can call it that) sharing its walls with its neighbours.
Yes sir, that meant a trip to Carlton.
Annoyingly, a lot of the best fits had trees in the way, or bicycles hanging out the front, or garbage bins overflowing with junk. I managed to get two decent houses, one a blanch (boring) white and the other a yellow and brown brick.
Guess which one I chose?
Anyway, here’s a sneak peek of the cover in progress.
I reckon the contrasting bricks makes for a most interesting title, don’t you?
Fun Fact: For the eagle-eyed of you wondering why the text is offset from the right some, that’s to do with the hard-copy version of the front cover.
Because of the way the printing presses work, you have a margin on the top, right and bottom of the image that is going to get snipped off and, what’s more, there’s also a ‘safety-margin’ that, again due to the manufacturing process ‘may’ get snipped off, and then you’ve got the ‘guaranteed-to-be-in-there’ bit.
There’s no margin of snipping or safety on the left edge, hence the left bias.
I’m making a habit, now, to start with the hard-copy version first, and tweak the wording over to centre for the electronic version. Stay tuned for more updates for Jolimont Street Ghost!
This time, no mucking around with silly plots. What am I talking about? Well, if you look back a fair few posts, Hampton Court Ghost started life as a train-wreck. There was a mangled plot and a weird premise that just got worse as it developed.
If you can call a descent into silliness ‘development’.
I had to rewrite the whole thing, razing it and starting practically from scratch. Not so with Jolimont Street! There are markers and placeholders and XXX’s pointing out where I know I need work, all those things, but all in all, it’s a story that stays with its premise. In short, I’m chuffed.
Now I’m going to leave it for a bit, concentrate on something else. After a couple of days I’ll revisit the document with fresh, critical eyes and then, after that, I’ll do the hard copy and red-pen technique. Maybe I’ll work on the front cover in the mean time. Something brooding, not too innocent.
OK, I lied. I promised I wouldn’t do any writing over the holidays. The laptop was there, I managed to squeeze a spare hour out, one thing led to another…
Keeping with the idea of a “ghost story that isn’t really about the ghost”, and without giving too much away at such an early moment, Jolimont will explore the idea of assumptions, along with the necessity of having a scientific control.
A darker themed book, I suspect there will be a sinister element, in keeping with the current trend of the series: Grosvenor Lane was quite light, almost innocent, whereas Beaumaris Road and Hampton Court had baser elements.
No front cover yet – Hey, I’m still working on the wordy bits! – so I’ll be on the lookout for creepy houses. I probably should be working on Adaptation rather than Paranormology, I know, I know. Sue me.