We’re so pleased to have author John Goode stopping by today on the tour for the latest novel in his Tales from Foster High series, What About Everything?
In comic books it’s called writing for the trades.
It’s the process where you craft a story arc to last at least six issues so it can be collected in a trade paperback format and sold at places like Barnes and Noble to people who don’t frequent comic book stores every week. Every story line written for comics these days is designed for the inevitable trade paperback and waiting for one to come out has become a common practice.
It wasn’t always like this.
In the old days, and god I sounds like my grandfather, you read the comic that was in the shop and you waited the thirty days it took for the next issue to come out, or else. There wasn’t an ‘or else’ if I am being honest. but waiting for the next issue was just the way it was. The super fun thing happened when creators would just ignore deadlines and the comic might not be available for 45 days or more.
Growing up reading comics you quickly learned to retain several concurrent story lines in your head that would be updated one month at a time. Full disclosure, this is still how I read comic books. Thirty plus titles a month, at least one updating every week, no excuses. My mind is like a honeycomb of stories where plots get stored away and are added to with each new issue. I like that, I like the wait, the buildup, the wondering what comes next.
I am called very old school.
Media today is frequently not consumed like that. Binge watching a season or even an entire show’s run is a very common experience today, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I will admit I do it with the Marvel shows when they first drop but that is because a lot of comic book fans are rabid about knowing everything they can as quickly as they can and then lording their knowledge over others. I have watched entire seasons of Jessica Jones and Daredevil and loved them, but I wonder if the producers knew the shows were going to be consumed that way and adjusted the plot accordingly.
See with the way that dramatic television is these days you don’t need a one- and-done kind of plot every week. Shows like Fringe and Lost showed us that the meta-plot is far more important than the weekly plot and though you need something to happen from week to week those tiny stories aren’t as critical as the main story because those plots only serve to enhance the larger story in some way.
Just like comic books.
When I set out to write Tales of Foster High, of course my mind went to comic books. I developed a huge meta-plot that would span decades of these characters’ lives; and each book a small chapter in a much larger story. Every book is like an issue to a comic book to me, telling the short term story of what is happening while at the same time moving the meta plot downfield to gain as many yards as possible in the larger plot.
The differences between my books and comic books?
Well, for one, when people die they stay dead. Sorry, no Jean Grays allowed. But more importantly I am not writing for the trades. Each book has to have a purpose and a meaning all to itself even though I know I am also using the story to drive towards a future destination. For example…
In Tales we got the boys together. We also met Kelly and introduced the complicated relationship he had with Brad and with himself. Although Brad and Kyle are the focus of the story, Kelly’s sub-plot provides a key step to the next book where Kelly is forced to face the life choices he has made so far. That installs a sense of sorrow and guilt in Kyle as well as a purpose that as long as people treat people like Kelly had no one was safe, which was 151 Days.
Now another subplot during these books was Kyle’s insecurities and his inability to believe that Brad really loved him. When I Grow Up centers around Kyle’s feelings and how they affect their lives. Not only is Kyle and Brad’s relationship solidified, but Kyle begins a relationship with a minor character which would be huge in the next Kyle and Brad book: Dream of a Waking Man.
See? When you step back and look, one huge story emerges from what you thought were five stand-alone books. That’s how a real trade paperback is written. The author sits down and write the best story he can. He can’t worry if people aren’t going to be patient enough to wait for the next book. You have to hope that readers that are really touched by your stories will come back for the next.
Now, I’m not saying that anyone should pull a George Martin and make people wait years and years. I’m saying the knee-jerk reaction is to write as fast as possible to put something in front of people now before they lose interest. I don’t believe in this. I believe that when readers see something they really like, they will be there, waiting patiently at the comic book shop for the next issue. This is the ninth issue of Foster High and we have many more to come.
My advice? Start the first book now and, if you like it, read the next and then the next. When you get to this one, don’t worry because the next issue is being written as we speak and the next three are already plotted. In fact, I have the covers for the next two books already finished, so there will always be more story for you.
But don’t wait for the trade to come out, because there is a dark secret about writing for trades people don’t talk about.
Sometimes so many people wait for the trade that no one buys the actual comic and it gets canceled after the first story arc. Only after it is collected do people find the story and fall in love with it, wondering where the rest is, only to find there is no next. This isn’t just a comic book thing, either, as any fan of Firefly will tell you. If you like something you have to engage with it when it’s right there. Waiting to binge watch an author’s entire work is flattering but more than a few times I have heard readers complain that when they got to the end they were devastated to find out the writer had quit writing the series.
Do yourself a favor, enjoy this episode and I promise you many more are to come.
About the Book
What About Everything?
Sequel to Taking Chances
A Tales from Foster High Story
No matter how fast you run, the past has a way of catching up with you.
When an accident ruins Matt’s parents’ anniversary party, Tyler and Matt decide a vacation is in order, and they book a gay Disney cruise with Robbie and Sebastian. It’ll be the perfect place to relax and do some much-needed soul-searching. A couple of years have passed since they met, but Tyler and Matt are no closer to getting married. They must take a long, hard look at their relationship and decide if they’re happy with the way things are, or if they want more—and if they can find the courage to take the next step. A difficult choice is made even harder when two people they thought they’d left behind show up to complicate the issue and turn the whole cruise upside down.
Buy Link: Dreamspinner Press
About the Author
John Goode is a member of the class of ’88 from Hogwarts school of wizardry, specializing in incantations and spoken spells. At the age of 14 he proudly represented District 13 in the 65th Panem games where he was disqualified for crying uncontrollably before the competition began. After that he moved to Forks, Washington where, against all odds, dated the hot, incredibly approachable werewolf instead of the stuck up jerk of a vampire but was crushed when he found out the werewolf was actually gayer than he was. After that he turned down the mandatory operation everyone must receive at 16 to become pretty citing that everyone pretty were just too stupid to live before moving away for greener pastures. After falling down an oddly large rabbit hole he became huge when his love for cakes combined with his inability to resist what sparsely worded notes commanded and was finally kicked out when he began playing solitaire with the Red Queen’s 4th armored division. By 18 he had found the land in the back of his wardrobe but decided that thinly veiled religious allegories where not the neighbors he desired. When last seen he had become obsessed with growing a pair of wings after becoming obsessed with Fang’s blog and hasn’t been seen since.
Or he is this guy who lives in this place and writes stuff he hopes you read.
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