Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, the author of the Bitterwood fantasy quartet, Bitterwood, Dragonforge, Dragonseed, and Dawn of Dragons, as well as a pair of superhero novels, Nobody Gets the Girl and Burn Baby Burn. (Click on the titles to be taken to Amazon.) My Dragon Apocalypse series combines both superheroes and epic fantasy, and so far three books have been published, Greatshadow, Hush, and Witchbreaker. The fourth book in the series, Soulless, is still under construction, but, I swear, it will see the light of day! I've also published numerous short stories, the best of which are reprinted in my collection, There is No Wheel.

This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public.

Coming out in 2014 will be my Oz inspired novel Bad Wizard, published by Antimatter Press. I'm currently working hard to finish up another superhero novel, Cut Up Girl. Watch this space for news!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

A few reviews and a NaNoWriMo update

37524 words to date on my NaNoWriMo novel. That's about 2500 words ahead of where I need to be in order to get out 50k words this month, though I'm about to lose three days to holiday travels. (Or, on a more positive spin, I'm about to gain three days to refill my imagination buffers thanks to the daydreaming potential of long car rides.)

The novel's working title is "War Upon the Heavens," though that will likely change. In my "How to Write Fast" columns I mentioned that I'm most motivated to write if I'm grappling with a big moral question. This book is built around a moral question I've had for a while: Why is the Wizard in the eponymous Wizard of Oz thought of as a benevolent figure? Yeah, he's charming when Dorothy and crew come back with the broom and Toto exposes him for a humbug. But, does being charasmatic erase the fact that, when Dorothy approached him for help, his first instinct was to send her off to get killed by the Wicked Witch of the West? Keep in mind that, in the books, Dorothy is 11 years old. Even if he didn't want to leave Oz, he could have thought of a safer way to get Dorothy out of his hair. "You may return home after you've read every book in the grand library of Oz!" But, even this would be a pretty rotten trick. Just as Scarecrow already had brains and Tin Man already had heart, the Wizard already had a balloon. The decent thing to do would have been to take her home the first time she asked.

Another open question from the original book: Now that he has the witch broom, what does he plan to do with it?

My book starts with the premise that the Wizard is a villain and that when he came back to earth with his pockets stuffed full of emeralds and a magical broom (is that a broomstick in your pocket, Mr. Diggs, or are you ... never mind), he immediately set about the task of making himself wealthy, famous, and powerful, having gotten a taste for being a ruler during his years in Oz. My book is set ten years after the first book, when Oscar Diggs (the Wizard's real name) has managed to trade his stolen emerald wealth and his gift for charming double talk into a career in politics. Dorothy, meanwhile, has grown up to become a reporter with the Topeka Ear, and devotes most of her career to exposing Diggs as a corrupt fraud. Oh, and unlike the original books, she still has the magic slippers.

There's a good bit of "unlike the original books" in my story. There were dozens of books in the Oz series and, bluntly, my story couldn't be told if I followed the continuity of the books, since the Wizard for the most part is a good guy in the later books (though there is a second inconvient fact, which is that he got rid of Ozma, the rightful heir to the throne of Oz, by giving her to a really bad witch named Mombi). Dorothy and her aunt and uncle wind up moving to Oz, where the magical properties of the place freeze her eternally at 11 years old. But, I'm guessing most readers know almost nothing about the later books, and probably are more familiar with the movie than the book, and might be surprised that the slippers are silver and might not know that the lion in the book was actually kind of a bad-ass carnivore.

I'm really happy with what I've written so far, though I'm still unclear on exactly how this book ends. Right now, I know enough of the story to bring the characters back to Oz, but I haven't really figured out how Dorothy beats the Wizard at the end, or even if she beats him. Maybe the book ends with Diggs still sitting on the emerald throne but it's all ultimately for the best. Or maybe the Lion just rips his throat out. I have options.

In the midst of all this writing, I haven't been doing much promoting. I have a December event I need to announce, but will save that for a different post. I also have a pair of reviews that appeared in the last few weeks, as the blog "Dab of Darkness" turns in back to back analysis of Greatshadow and Hush.  A highlight: This is one of those books that has all sorts of facial expressions crossing my features and the occasional ‘No Way!’ escaping out loud at the flying orca, or shape-shifting witch, or near-death of some beloved character. Truly, I was quite noisy while reading this book. If you are looking for the next excellent fantasy adventure read, pick up this series. I doubt you’d be disappointed.

Finally, I know I've been slack on posting updates here about my writing progress, but I have been posting updated word counts daily on Facebook. Look me up there if you haven't already. One can't have too many facebook friends.