Storytellers: House of Stone

So here we are again, with an all new edition of Storytellers, where I go into a little bit of behind the scenes info on House of Stone, my first novel with Samhain and my first published work of “official” novel length. After this, I’ll go into my Torquere days with Last Paladin and The Vampire Fred, as I know there are some of my readers who are curious about those. 🙂 Anyway, without further ado…


1. The Headbutt Scene… Funny Story…

There’s a scene about midway through the book where Richard Stone faces off against some fellow Fae who are looking for a fight, and he answers them, well, in a less than noble fashion. Thing is, I don’t really know anything about fighting outside of shooting at paper targets, which is the primary reason that I hate combat scenes. My housemate at the time, however, was proficient in karate and had a working knowledge of various maneuvers, so I went to him for information about headbutts.

I promptly learned that headbutts are not as awesome as they’re portrayed in the movies. If you don’t do them exactly right, and hit the person in the exact right place, you’ll hurt yourself far more than the guy you’re hitting. So, being curious (i.e. stupid), after watching him demonstrate the proper technique against some particularly intimidating air, I decided to try it on a shifty looking door. I came to about ten seconds later, and had to explain the red mark on my forehead when I was called in to substitute at a high school the next day…

Even to this day, when I read that scene I remember looking up at the ceiling and asking, “Did I do it right?” Door wasn’t even scuffed. Asshole.

2. The Entire Book Was Written Through “Real-Time Writing”

After writing The Vampire Fred, and while working on my creative thesis for grad school, I found that I could get a lot more writing done if someone was right there waiting for me to continue the story. As a result, I’d write into an instant message window, get instant feedback, and copy/paste the passage into the Word file. While there are a lot of pitfalls to something like this, I couldn’t argue with the production I was having with it, so I decided to write a whole book using the method.

An unsuspecting fan who sent me a letter about how much they liked my writing ended up being my test subject, and she was happy to basically read House of Stone long before anyone else did. I think she’s also the only reader that didn’t mind the fact that Richard was into Pearl Jam. 🙂

Over the course about six or seven months, she’d meet with me nightly online to chat about the book, and give me a reader’s opinion on how the story was progressing. As a result, she got the dedication, and I’m still rather grateful for all of her time and patience. I mostly use beta readers now, the most commonly accepted method of writing a novel, but every now and then when I see a writing friend online I’ll post a few paragraphs to get their feedback if I’m wavering on whether a section works.

3. The Novel Was Born From a Writing Prompt

Person, object, activity.

It was a prompt used in my high school drama club to warm us up for rehearsal with some improv, and more often than not, since we were all hormone-addled high schoolers, they could get kinda nasty if our faculty advisor wasn’t around. Every now and then I’d use it to help some friends who were working through mini-blocks, and one day, someone tossed a prompt at me.

A nobleman, a grand piano, and performing in an adult film.

While there is a grand piano in House of Stone, it’s mostly in the backstory of Simaron’s mother, but the prompt got my brain going, namely why a noble would ever lower himself as to perform in pornographic films. I made him Fae, because in the City, you could be a Fae noble and no normal person would care, and if he were low enough on the nobility totem pole, it’d mean he likely wasn’t collecting any tribute. Even if he owned his own land, there would still be property taxes, and what kind of work can a really attractive and well-hung guy get when he doesn’t even have a high school diploma?

4. It Kicked Off “The Dedication War” In My Family

In the acknowledgments for House of Stone, I thank my mom for supporting me “despite knowing what I write”. To be perfectly honest, my mom has only read the creative thesis draft of Lightning Rod, and I pray to whatever higher power there is that that’s the only thing she reads. Let’s face it, not every writer of gay genre fiction wants his or her mom reading a gay sex scene that they wrote.

However, the dedication was not to my mom, rather to the woman who helped me out in writing it, but it started off a half-serious debacle in my family between me, my mom and my sister about who would get the dedications for my upcoming books. Thus far, both of them have been mentioned in the acknowledgements, but none of them have received a dedication, and god, when they found out that my friend Angie had received the dedication to not one, but two books (and she’s likely getting the dedication for Community Service as well)…

Suffice to say, when edits come in and it’s time to write the dedications, it’s always an interesting time. 🙂

Extra Tidbits

– House of Stone was written entirely to Pearl Jam, and every single chapter is titled after a song that Pearl Jam performed or covered.

– While writing the first chapter, I did research on how porn stars get their jobs, which is something you can never explain properly without whoever you’re talking to saying, “Ah. Yes. Research.”

– House of Stone went through thirteen rounds of edits. Yep. Thirteen. My editor doesn’t screw around. 🙂

– There have been two mini-fics about Richard where he meets other people in the City canon. One was an untitled piece where Richard meets Lennox from The Last Paladin, and the other, entitled “Yellow Ledbetter”, takes place before House of Stone, and involves a scene between Richard and James from Lightning Rod, which is casually referenced by both characters.

– House of Stone was written side-by-side with a now disavowed James Black story entitled “Dead in the Water”, where James faces off against a necromancer and zombie ogres.

– Simaron’s name is pronounced sih-MARE-un, got SO many e-mails over that. 🙂

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