The first draft of Nothing Zero is nearly complete. Writing it as part of NaNoWriMo has forced me to think about my craft in new ways and change my process. The version of Nothing Zero that be released early next year will be quite different than what I finish tomorrow. The final product will have to be drastically rewritten and altered, but that’s not to say my participation was a failure. If nothing else, this quickly written draft has forced me to re-think the story I was going to tell, and consider angles I hadn’t previous thought about exploring. That alone has made this a more than worthwhile endeavor.
The feedback reaching crescendo, Nothing collapsed.
Microphone cord wrapped tightly around his forearm, he got his knees and screamed. At first his shrieks were atonal wailing, but crawling across the blood slicked stage his sounds gradually began to form words. Rising to his feet, he repeated the phrase. Even after the guitar feedback fell to silence, he gave voice the words that had haunted his every waking moment for the past week. He didn’t understand what they meant, only that they held some deeper meaning beyond an ominous statement to send the crowd home with. “This is the end of everything,” he cried one final time and slammed the microphone down.
Hair tangled in sweaty clumps, body covered with sweat and blood, eyeliner streaking his face, dress torn and stockings hopelessly shredded, Nothing stumbled towards the front of the stage. The Hammerstein Ballroom was sold out. 3400 kids, all deathly pale and dressed in black raised their hands as they chanted his name. Looking out across the crowd, Nothing Zero felt alive.
Unfortunately the feeling was only fleeting.
Feeling the afterglow from his performance starting to slip, Nothing tore the tattered remains of his dress off. There were thousands of videos posted to YouTube of him performing the act. He knew that everyone in the crowd had already watched him strip down to his panties and garters, but that didn’t matter. Every time he did his little strip tease he received the same wave of excited squeals from the crowd.
When he was alive, Nothing would have done anything to hear those screams. He dreamed of performing with a band for thousands of adoring fans, selling millions of records, posing for magazine covers and filming music videos. But as a small town boy, he feared his dreams would never come true. He was afraid he would remain trapped in his small town life, all of his hopes and dreams unfulfilled and his life unnoticed by anyone but the bullies and assholes who lived to abuse him.
But then Nothing died.
Death awoke something dark and terrible inside him. As a Nephilim Nothing was reborn as a creature of great power and endless hunger. But most of all, Nothing has found himself with everything he dared dream of when he was alive. In the middle of a sold out tour promoting his second chart-topping album, Nothing should have been elated. But staring out at the thousands of adoring kids with their Nothing Zero shirts and screaming for him to throw them his dress, Nothing felt nothing at all.
Sitting down to write my first novel, LIVE UNDEAD, I never thought it would become a gay erotic vampire book. The notion of it becoming the first in a series didn’t even cross my mind. That’s just how it all worked out. I made some creative decisions, and now I’m working on a novelette that bridges the gap to the second novel in THE UNDEAD CHRONICLES.
As I worked on LIVE UNDEAD, I cooked up origins and detailed back-stories for each member of Live Undead members. I tried to work these details into the fabric of the book, but it never felt right. Above all things, I wanted LIVE UNDEAD to be a quick read. There simply wasn’t a place to pause and tell a story about Razor and his time in San Francisco during the 80s. Begrudgingly I started cutting.
One of the main inspirations for LIVE UNDEAD was Poppy Z. Brite’s LOST SOULS. Back when I was reading vampire stuff—specifically splatterpunk vampire novels—that book stood tall for me. Sure, I loved Skipp & Spector’s THE LIGHT AT THE END, Garton’s LIVE GIRLS and Somtow’s VAMPIRE JUNCTION, but LOST SOULS just felt right. It took everything I thought was great about Anne Rice, but gave it a libido. But, beyond the obvious influence Poppy had on Live Undead, he did something else that was sticking in the back of my mind as I excised the band member’s back-stories. He wrote short stories featuring some of the characters from LOST SOULS.
A couple of months after finishing LIVE UNDEAD, I returned to the stories I had excised from it. I decided that I really wanted to talk about Wraith stalking the subways of New York. I think Razor having fallen in love with someone suffering from AIDS is interesting. So I started thinking about what Poppy did with Steve and Ghost, and thought why not? Why can’t I do a batch of short stories as a companion piece to LIVE UNDEAD?
Then something happened.
In the epilogue chapter of LIVE UNDEAD, I briefly touch on someone recognizing Nothing. I decided to flesh that idea out in my first short. The story would focus on a transvestite prostitute named Brian who was obsessed with vampires. Initially planned as being under 5000 words, LOVE BITES, has steadily grown into something I feel can stand on its own. So, I’ll give it that chance in a few weeks.
During the evolution of LOVE BITES, I decided on an idea for a second novel. Now that Nothing was a big rock star, what is going to happen to him? Thanks to his celebrity, he can’t operate in secret like Live Undead had throughout their existence. But beyond that, he can’t feed without creating another reborn. How does the world react to all of this? I’ll deal with all of those ideas in my second novel, tentatively titled NOTHING ZERO.
Someday the stories I cut from LIVE UNDEAD will get their chance. But right now, I have an obsessed transvestite and a psychotic rock star calling my name.