Obscura Rhapsody Returns April 5th

You blink and it’s been almost two years.

Obscura Rhapsody has been a labor of love, an attempt on my part to tell a story in a serialized format that took inspiration from a variety of sources in both format and structure. I liken it to be my own little indie comic (you know, minus the artwork and letter pages, so just in prose form). Some indie comics stop and start, find new publishers and eventually carry on towards a conclusion (random ones that come to mind are A Distant Soil, Grendel, and Strangers in Paradise). Similar to one of the inspirations, the comic book Cerebus, Obscure Rhapsody is one long story broken up to into novels or “volumes”.

And while I unfortunately lack the artistic skills to bring Rhapsody to life in the form of a comic (despite an early, long gone version being told in a comic strip format using video game stills), the story evolved into a place where prose became the perfect medium for it. The story is laid out in my head, and has a solid beginning, middle and end. The journey should take approximately 150 chapters.

Although the most recent chapter – Chapter 10 – came out in May 2021, it did conclude Book Two, Moonlight Scherzo, so the story was not left in total limbo. It was far from complete, but it was a natural stopping point. The hiatus just wasn’t meant to last this long

The world was in the throes of a pandemic and life was, well, a little busy. I began an amazing writing partnership with Vince Stadon, and we had a Sherlock Holmes-related story published and three other stories in various stages of publication / acceptance (more details on those another time). I also made a solo sci-fi short story sale to a magazine, and beyond that did a lot of work on my mental health and managing my diabetes that has been truly life changing.

But the real culprit, as I began working on Book Three, was that I ran into a real mental roadblock (not surprising for writers), but that roadblock grew and cast a light on a more fundamental issue that took me time to A) admit, and B) reconcile.

On a car ride to work, alone with my thoughts, I thought to myself: Book Three, as planned, kind of sucks.

The simple fact was, I wasn’t feeling passionate about where Book Three was going. I felt that it was going through the motions to where it “needed” to go, and placing the characters where they “needed” to be to set the stage for the next novel. But as I outlined and detailed those remaining six chapters, it all felt very perfunctory.

I was Big Sad (TM).

Over the months I tried tackling the issue a few different ways. I’d revisit, tweak some of the story details, and would begin writing, but it would sputter and stop. Book Three changed names a couple of times, from Roué to Bound. But it didn’t feel right. It felt hollow and fake, and soon that spiraled into itself where I wondered if the project was dead.

It wasn’t until this past Thanksgiving, where it was our turn to host (and just so happened we had to host both sides of the family, a few days apart), that I got to talking to my sister-in-law Jen (who serves as the editor and keen eye on Obscura Rhapsody) and the conversation landed on that it would be great to continue the series. Jen’s enthusiasm and interest really bolstered me and got me to go back and give my plans a fresh set of eyes,

Within two weeks, while driving to work (there seems to be a theme here), it struck me. In a feverish few minutes, I worked out what needed to change, what needed to be dropped and just where I needed to go with the story. And as the next few days past, as I kept refining and working the ideas over in my head and on paper, it became obvious.

I was excited again.

And during the ramp-up to the new chapters, a couple of things became obvious to me.

One, I would need to change the format. Originally, in the spirit of the whole “indie comic” idea crossed with the format of the old penny dreadfuls (another inspiration, at least in structure and not I hope quality, on which I blame Peter Haining’s Mystery! An Illustrated History of Crime and Detective Fiction, a book I was absolutely enthralled with in middle school ). I released monthly chapters of roughly 4,000 words. But for various reasons, from both a creative and engagement side, I found that moving to weekly installments of approximately 1,000 words would be better. The word count per chapter remains the same, but chapters will just be broken up into weekly releases.

Second, Book Three will now be longer. Originally, it was going to be comprised of Chapters 11 through 16, but right now it looks like it’s going until Chapter 19 (note: this is always subject to change), making it almost as long as Books One and Two together. It will also have a different name, a different location and in fact, might be a bit confusing at first if you’re all caught up (which, if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do).

But that’s just part of the fun. And of course, this could still change, though as of this writing I’ve written a few months ahead and can tell you (no spoilers) that I’m not changing the name of Book Three again.

See you on April 5 for Book Three, Asylum

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