Category Archives: Fiction

Good News / The End of the Tunnel

So – Sorry about the delay between posts, but I’ve been a little busy for the past two months. (Also, the Steelers are currently 6-2. Good times!) Mostly, I blame the comprehensive exams (which are happening next Saturday), a limited budget, and trying to take on too many projects at once.

But, there are some great things afoot in Lynchitania. For instance, observe what has arrived in the mail today:

My first published-in-paper work!

My copies of Survival Stories, the much-ballyhooed anthology put out by The Sleepless Phoenix, have arrived. My story, “Fury” – with art by the indomitable Ben Bates, who’s recently made his big pro debut handling the pencils for Sonic The Hedgehog #217 and #218 – is in there, and gets a nice little mention in the introduction as well!

Just a quick note, though – even though the book has me as Ryan Lynch everywhere else that matters (index, cover, short biography), in the comic itself, the writer is my old pen name, Brian St. Claire. It’s still me, and I apologize for any confusion. But honestly? It’s a minor, insignificant detail, compared to what Michael Moreci, Nic Wilkinson, and everybody else responsible for bringing this book to print had to go through to make this happen. So what if it’s under my old name? It’s still my name, my work, it’s finally on printed pages, and this brings me no end of delight. I should also add that “Fury” has the distinction of being the single best story in an anthology filled with great stories.

(No, I’m not biased, not at all; how could you accuse me of something like that?)

Also, I have a children’s book making the round with publishers and agents alike, and I’m 55,000 words deep into a Philly-centric Urban Fantasy novel that’s part Buffy The Vampire Slayer, part Starship Troopers. My hope is to get the brunt of it done before NaNoWriMo ends; I’ve got about 17,500 words towards my NaNo Total so far, but studying for the comps has taken priority, and will continue to do so for the next week. Needless to say, after all that studying’s done, I still won’t have much of a life, but I promise the blogging will be done far more frequently.

And before you ask, half of my copies of “Survival Stories” are already earmarked for friends and family. Perhaps I’ll hold on to the leftovers and keep them for a future contest? Who knows. But this is a happy day.

-Ryan
(The Artist Formerly Known As Brian St. Claire)

Ten Pounds of Awesome in a Five-Ounce Bag.

I was at both Intervention Con (I helped to staff and do press for it – the latter of which has been immortalized on the internet via Wired.com here) and SPX this weekend. It was so very, very fantastic.

I’ll write more it that when I’m not almost totally wiped out, but right now, today, here’s what I’m psyched about in my state of quasi-delirium – I got six cool urban fantasy books from the library (more Stacia Kane, More Caitlin Kittredge, one by Lilith Saintcrow, and one by Vicki Pettersson, which just looks plain awesome and I can’t wait to dig in), I get sweet e-mails, and then I get a call from my apartment’s front desk manager, who was telling me about how both Tony Romo and the Detroit Lions quarterback got robbed of touchdowns last night . And then a package comes.

A package that, amidst the excitement and fatigue of the weekend, I totally forgot was coming. A package of THIS.

The Penguin Mug approves.

That expression on my weary face is one of sheer delight. Why? Allow me to explain.

Kazuo Koike did a series of manga with the irrepressible Goseki Kojima – also one of my favorite manga artists – that you might’ve heard of, if you like tales of bloody samurai revenge and parenting. Ryoichi Ikegami was the artistic co-conspirator with Sho Fumimura in creating one of my favorite manga ever, SANCTUARY. And while Mr. Kojima is one of my favorite artists, Mr. Ikegami is the favorite manga artist.

So when my friend over at the local comic book shop heard me ranting about them, he cooly pulled the first volume off of the shelf, handed it to me, and said with a smile, “I think you might like this, then.”

My reaction? A mixture of shock, awe, purest joy and eternal gratitude. That’s the nice, artistic way of putting it… In reality, I was more like the Double Rainbow Guy. Except no drugs. So, to have all seven volumes in my hands, for the mere eBay price of $30 including shipping and handling – well, words, you fail me right now.

-Brian

P.S. Steelers, 1-0. Booyah. Here’s to more Dennis Dixon.

Daredevil, and Why I Love Him.

In preparation for a novel I’m writing, I’ve written a Daredevil comic that takes place during Matt Murdock’s teenage days, shortly after being blinded.

I can’t explain why, but I’ve grown attached to Daredevil over the past few years. Some people prefer Spider-man, or Wolverine, or the X-Men, but I have a soft spot for The Man Without Fear. I think it’s because his problems are generally less cosmic or ridiculous, and have a strong root in emotional trauma. It could be because he’s got a boxing background, and he’s essentially the Rocky Balboa of the Marvel Universe – the guy who gets the piss beaten out of him by life, and, at the end of the day, is still standing, still fighting, and still won’t give up. (I know I said Spidey was the Rocky Balboa – which is true – but so is DD. Maybe more so.)

I love that never-say-die attitude. I love that he’s not a super-scientist, extra-strong, or loaded with money. Sure, he’s got reflexes, heightened senses, radar, the clubs, and ninja training, but that’s it. Personally, I think he’s the most human of all the characters in the Marvel ‘verse.

Anyway, check the story, “The Kid’s All Right”, out here.

-Ryan

PS, started up a Scribd account. Don’t know what to put there yet. Suggestions?

Writing in General : Oh, Ho, Ho, It’s Magic (You Know)

For the past week, I’ve been pondering the place of positivity within a field like writing. It should come as no surprise that writers can be very prickly people; we are quick, we are sharp, and when focused on words, it’s difficult to keep the human part of the equation in mind. Being critical is at the heart of being a good writer. The more critical we are, the better we are.

But how true is that statement when we turn our criticism inwards? We beat ourselves up over every passage, every poor choice of words, and that begins to take its toll elsewhere. Even if the writing isn’t bad at all – even if our worst still far outstrips another’s best – we feel the consequences of our actions on our emotions, our personality, and our ego. It amounts to self-flagellation, and we’re tricking ourselves into thinking it’s constructive. Are the resultant scars the only way to prove to the world that we are worthy writers?

I don’t think so. We are creators of worlds. We have spent countless hours whittling away at our words, polishing our prose, and perfecting our paragraphs. Even the most mundane writer can impress a layperson with their expertise and perspective. We accomplish what few people dare, and fewer succeed at – bringing hundreds of pages of writing to life. Writers are mystics and shamans, but even more so. We can pull back the curtains. We can lay our days, months, and years of work bare to the world. We can explain everything – and often do – to the point of exhaustion.

The world is still amazed. Why? There is a hidden majesty to words, calling back to the days before we wrote, before we drew, when we were huddled around fires in the cold reaches of time, dreaming of no more than the next meal. We praised gods, told stories, and made tribes from nothing. Words are our most primal form of communication, and to scratch them down into these little glyphs and sigils still has an almost magical air to it – when done right.

Allow your inner voice a chance to say that, every now and then. Be reminded that anybody can put words on a page; but what you do with them is nothing short of magic.

-Ryan

Writing in General : Fragile Life

When I go out for a run in the morning, I have three things stuck in the mesh pockets of my shorts: the keys to my apartment – which sound their warning jingle as I run through concrete streets – my driver’s license, and a post-it note.

On that note is written the following: In the event of an emergency, please contact my sister L______. You can reach her at 215-555-9876. Thank you.

Sometimes, the post-it is lost, and I am forced to write a new one, which is quickly folded around the driver’s license (a choice of neatness and habit). A cell phone would make more sense, but only in an emergency context; as it applies to running, such a choice would only cause my phone to meet with the pavement regularly.

You or I would think nothing of having an emergency number on our phone; but writing it down repeatedly, along with a message, creates in me an odd feeling of uncertainty and numbered days. Youth is not accustomed to dealing with mortality; Youth will think of it as a tragedy to lose one’s life in these, the years of promise and vigor.

I try to shake that notion, and think of it as a simple precaution. If I am the unfortunate victim of someone’s poor driving, I’d like for my family to know it. Hence, the post-it.

As I laced up this morning, my thoughts wandered to death in fiction; too often, writers will kill for the sake of a shock, or convenience. The deaths that truly affect us are the ones that come out of nowhere, that, sometimes, will make no sense – such as a young man, out on a morning run, hit by an out-of-control car. We are not reminded of the killer’s cruel touch, or a heroic deed with a death like that. We are reminded, instead, of the fragile lives we live.

When you write, use that. Know that. Most people will never know a brave moment in their life, as we see them in books or on the screen; but they will know a weak moment – a fragile moment – not unlike the one I described. They will connect with it to a much greater degree, and it offers you a powerful opportunity for plot and character development.

How your characters navigate tragedy is up to you; I only ask that you do it well.

-Ryan

P.S. If you should be interested in reading a great book dealing with life’s fragile moments, I can’t recommend Inio Asano’s Solanin enough.

Writing a Novel : The Importance of Having Endurance

I’m aware this is, much like my other recent entries, divergent from the central topic of the last month or so. But after seeing the wonderful Charlaine Harris the other night, and having a conversation with a fellow would-be writer, I think it’s important that I discuss endurance. (and, later, stretching.)

As of right now, I have two half-written novels. You may have more than two; you have may have fewer. For various reasons, I’ve had to abandon both of them at the hundred-page mark. For one, I had an entire outline planned, and then veered off track to the point where I just didn’t know where to go with it.

At that time, I decided that I would be treating writing the same way one would prepare for an endurance race; start off with smaller stories, then build my way up to the novel. Writing is different from running, in that somebody with sheer willpower and enough time could make it through a whole first draft without preparation; but it’s also very similar. If you do put in the time beforehand, it’ll be… well, it won’t be easy, but it’ll be easier.

My fellow writer from the night before barely made it past the ten-page mark, and said, “I should really consider writing something shorter first.” She’s right. It’s all a part of training yourself, and getting into the mentality. One can’t physically handle running a marathon the first time through; it’s all about long training, discipline, and building on small successes.

If you work hard, stay focused, and avoid injury, you could one day run a marathon.

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Writing in General – Quirks and Knacks

For a great while now, I’ve done more serious, craft-oriented entries. Today is a small exception; we will discuss the fun, odd little twists that make great writing. I’ve mentioned the importance of quirks before; by most definitions, a quirk is “a peculiar behavioral habit”. We will expand on this definition by applying it to writers, and their writing.

Let’s start with Joss Whedon. You can pick out multiple quirks unique to Joss Whedon’s writing (heavy pop-culture savvy, particular slang, tough guys dropping restrictive clauses to sound tougher) that tell you almost immediately he’s behind it. Neil Gaiman has a tendency for poetic flourishes and archaic references. George R.R. Martin likes qualities of dynamism, large stables of characters, and switching between concurrent plot-lines.

Ernest Hemingway finds beauty in a distinct sparseness; Elmore Leonard finds realism in it. Douglas Adams goes on fun tangents, David Foster Wallace loves footnotes, Charles Bukowski has a poetic vulgarity to his writing, and Hunter S. Thompson straddles the line between journalistic brevity and the most epic run-on sentences ever.

James Patterson writes with an active, direct tone. Jack Kerouac writes with a passive, nuanced one. Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino are both masters of the one-voice, multiple-characters approach, but Smith always hides it better. (Mssr. Tarantino has improved a LOT, though.)

These are quirks. These are also knacks; if one doesn’t know any better, they might confuse the two.

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