Uncivil War: The Origin

So I've got a new book out.

Some years back I had this idea for a story. Unlike most of my ideas at the time, however, it wasn't for a Batman comic. This was something different. This was...I wasn't sure what this was. It was a big idea, or at least, an idea for a big story. It would have a cast of, well, millions. It was...big.

It was called Uncivil War. And it was about what happened when the next American Civil War hit.

I thought I knew what was going to precipitate the events in the story, but although those events interested me, very much, I was far more interested in telling the stories of what happened next. What happened to the people of the country as it fell apart. The powerful are fascinating, sure, but they get plenty of ink. It's everyone else I tend to find equally or more interesting. The people who, to misquote slightly a great man, do most of the do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this country.

I wrote a few spec comics scripts for short stories set inside this scenario but wasn't sure what publisher would buy it, and at that point in time I couldn't afford to do much that wasn't paying work.

Time went on and I did lots and lots of other gigs, but Uncivil War was never far from my mind. There was even some extremely early talk about maybe a cable maxiseries being the right venue. As usually happens, that went nowhere.

Some more time went on and I did lots and lots of other gigs, including moving coasts and taking a staff job, but Uncivil War was still never far from my mind. I still couldn't quite figure out who'd pay me to write this very unsuperheroic comic—and by this point, I'd also started to very much wonder who on earth would want to draw a story that would likely be as difficult to draw as this one.

And then a few things happened. One was that I got hired to write a series of YA novels that tied in to a video game. It was the first time I'd really written fiction in prose form since shortly after I'd graduated college. It was odd and foreign and disorienting after working in comics for so long. And after a while, I started to realize I kinda liked it. A lot. That led me to write lots of other prose fiction and after a while that became my main (although never exclusive) form of writing.

Some time later, I heard about this guy, Hugh Howey, who'd written a short novella and put it up for sale on Amazon. And enough people'd read it and asked that most magical of questions you can ask a writer—"what happens next?"—that he'd written another and then another...

I checked out that initial installment of Howey's Wool series and then quickly bought the omnibus that collected the first five volumes into one big novel. The day the second omnibus was released, I snapped that up, too.

That led me to discover writers such as Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, guys who'd been published by the major publishing houses but decided to go it on their own. (I'd actually already read a few of Eisler's books a few years earlier, before he'd decided to go the self-publishing route.) Konrath and Eisler led me to discover The Passive Voice which led me to Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith and Edward Robertson and so many other blogs and boards and sites and resources, a whole world of writers who were making their way through this brave new world and at some point I realized I'd already begun to think, you know...maybe I could...

So one day I did. I sat down and I thought about this story I'd always wanted to write and I looked up and it'd happened. I'd started writing it. Before I knew it, I'd written a couple thousand words. So I wrote some more. And some more. And more. And the more I wrote, the more ideas I had, the more it expanded.

Uncivil War itself is an odd format. A story this big could easily become impossibly unwieldy. But the way it's unspooling so far is through a series of short novels, novellas, short stories, flash fiction and vignettes, as the focus moves around the various parts of the country. Eventually, the threads will come together to form one large (possibly very, very large) tapestry. But each smaller part is designed to be interesting and accessible and enjoyable and fulfilling on its own. That's the theory, at least. According to my earliest readers, it seems to be working so far.

The first volume is a novella called The Island. It's available on Amazon now for just a couple bucks, and if you don't have a Kindle, you can read it on your phone or iPad or computer. I hope you'll check it out.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!
    I'm a huge fan of your work with The Batman Adventures. That's one book that I keep going back to read and re-read. I can't decide if I like the issues you edited better than the ones you wrote.

    I will definitely read Uncivil War. A good story is a good story. Super-heroes or not. I enjoy both words and pictures.