A Serpent Eating Its Own Tail

Read the most recent Film Critic Hulk post dissecting and discussing The Force Awakens. As is usual with FCH, it’s a long, long piece, but in the end, its argument is that the original Star Wars trilogy was about adventure, pulp homage, great characters, thrills, and imagination.
The Force Awakens is about Star Wars.
I don’t think there’s really a strong counter argument to that. Star Wars has become a cultural touchstone, and it was inevitable and a smart move to make a Star Wars movie that is all about Star Wars, that captures the Star Wars greatest hits and features a checklist of elements that people want and expect from Star Wars.
It isn’t what I want from my career though.
People often ask why I don’t write series (and why I’ve waited so long to venture into trilogy territory with The Last Adventure of Constance Verity). The answer has always been tricky. From a commercial angle, it’s undoubtedly the smartest thing to do. Once a person becomes a fan of a character / setting, they are fairly easy to please. NOTE: That’s not a criticism. Just a fact. The Rogue One trailer is sure to feature shots of AT-ATs and use that tried and true musical score and hit all the Star Wars expectations. It will work, and if it doesn’t work, it will probably be because it strayed too far from Star Wars rather than sticking to the formula.
All of which, I must stress again, is perfectly fine. It doesn’t interest me, but it does interest and satisfy millions of people. So I’m cool with it.
But I don’t know if it’s because I’m ambitious as an artist or stupid or incapable of investing in worlds and characters in the same way as your average person, but whenever a story becomes about itself, whenever it becomes sweet nostalgia and fuzzy fondness rather than about the story, I tend to lose interest. I’m not interested in the new Ghostbusters, but it has nothing to do with the backlash against the all-female cast. It has everything to do with the moments that are there to remind us this is Ghostbusters. The nail in my interest is the appearance of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, who was a wonderful and absurd surprise in the original film but is now just another checkmark on a list.
I don’t want to be the creator with a checklist. I want to be create stories that trade on more than fondness and met expectations. I know that for many people, I’ll always be a “light” writer, but my goal is always to engage and entice the reader into new territory. I never want my stories to be about themselves. I want them to be about something.
That might sound a bit confusing with Constance Verity on the horizon, but that’s a trilogy, which is a new experience for me and for my fans. It isn’t intended to go beyond three books, and I imagine by the time it’s done, I’ll be ready to move onto something else.
I hope you’ll be willing to join me then too.
In the meantime, you should buy The Last Adventure of Constance Verity. It’s pretty awesome, and I think you’ll like it. And if you can’t trust me, who can you trust?
Keelah Se’lai
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  1. Shawn P. Bellamy
    Posted July 7, 2016 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    It is confusing when your on the cusp of putting out the start of a trilogy. One where by book three I expect the heroine to be dead. If only to stop the demand for just one more book. You protest so often about your not wanting to write sequels that I think it maybe something more to it. Some ego thing. It proves your not a sell out or some such. Maybe you just don’t want to become what you hate in others. As if you would write an uninteresting book. I have faith in you, after reading all your books, that you could never do all the things you describe. You would never write a sequel by checklist. If you wrote sequels they would be just as witty and interesting as your stand alone novels. But hey, its your life. I just want you to keep entertaining me and write a novel a year. So pick up the pace and put down that video game controller.

  2. Marc G
    Posted July 7, 2016 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Hahaha, when I watched Star Wars:TFA I thought to myself, “It’s the same thing.” I feel a bit vindicated in knowing I wasn’t wrong or more correctly that other people agree with me. Keep up the good fight! Also I can’t imagine checklists from you. There’s so much in your worlds so many possibilities! Love your works.

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