While my writing on Cannibal Hearts is going very well at the moment, I am starting to worry about the tone of the novel, which is definitely getting darker as the book progresses.
Catskinner’s Book, while full of violent and inexplicable events, maintained a lightness throughout, mostly due to James. He had a certain innocence and naivety that I really enjoyed writing. The split between James and Catskinner let me have the best of both worlds–a narrator who was at once a stone cold killer and childlike.
In Cannibal Hearts, James is losing his innocence. It’s really inevitable. The whole point of the first book is that James couldn’t go on as he had been, a disconnected drifter who relied on Catskinner to get him through bad situations. The rules have changed, and he’s now on the radar of things that Catskinner can’t kill. James has had to start being an active participant.
And that’s good, it shows evolution of the character. I knew that Cannibal Hearts couldn’t just be more of the same. But I am seeing James change in ways that aren’t as much fun to write. He’s a sadder but wiser man, and he’s experienced some real loss for the first time in his life, because for the first time in his life he has something to lose.
I know how Cannibal Hearts is going to end–basically I have three more significant scenes to write, and the ancillary words to get from one scene to the next. Each one is, in its own way, an introduction to a new kind of ugliness.
So we’ll see what happens. I have plotted out five books in my head (after Cannibal Hearts, the next ones are The Worms Of Heaven, Zenith, and The Infanta) but I’m not sure if I’ll go straight into writing them when I’m finished with this one. I may need a break from James’ world. And, to be honest, readers may decide that they don’t want any more of this series–it might just be too bleak to be popular.
I will keep writing, I just don’t know if I’ll keep writing this. I may see if I can flesh The Knight And The Princess out into a full length novel.