Happy Friday, everybody! Or at least I hope it’s a happy Friday for you! I’m long overdue for an update, so I figured I’d take five and let you know what’s happening here at the office. The new Daniel Faust novel, The Locust Job, is still in editing but coming along nicely. Mostly I’ve been head-down buried in work on my second attempt at a follow-up to Ghosts of Gotham. I’m closing in on the finish line – well, of the first draft, which is just the start of the work – and I can tell you a little bit about it.
It’s not a direct sequel, but another stand-alone story set in the same world and featuring a few returning characters. I will absolutely be returning to Lionel and Maddie’s adventures at some point (and I’m raring to go), but there are long-term plans in the works. You know how I do things. As of today the manuscript just passed Ghosts in length (130,000 words) and I still have a ways to go, so this is the longest book I’ve ever written.
The working title (which will probably get changed) is The Hungry Dreaming, in which a modern-day investigation into the byzantine bureaucracy of New York’s Emergency Management Department leads to a conspiracy with its roots in the American Revolution. It involves Alexander Hamilton (and his true, secret mission at the Battle of Yorktown), the Culper spy network, the execution of Benedict Arnold, a renegade goddess, and the power of truth in a post-truth world.
(And if your reaction to that is “but Benedict Arnold was never executed,” you are correct. Or are you?)
As a tangent, last time I was in NYC I snapped a few pictures of locations from Ghosts of Gotham (you can see ‘em on my Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/craigschaeferbooks/), but there’s one I didn’t post and wanted to talk a little about today. Can I get sappy for a second? Okay, here goes.
Back when I was a tiny proto-writer, my dad took me to see the movie Ghostbusters. Yes, the original. Yes, I’m old. Moving on. I was already a voracious reader, devouring anything I could get my hands on, and had the notion that telling stories might be my calling in life. And I was blown away. This movie had everything: it was funny, it was scary (both at the same time!), it had adventure and mystery. There were hints and inklings of an entire universe extending beyond the confines of the movie itself, from the mysteries of Tobin’s Spirit Guide to the briefly-mentioned historical machinations of the Cult of Gozer.
And I remember emerging from the dark of the matinee into the afternoon sun and thinking, “I want to write stories like that.”
Of course, one of the most iconic scenes of that movie is the opening, where the heroes encounter their first ghost at the main branch of the New York Public Library. Again, for a little kid who was already haunting his own local library, the kind of thing that sticks in the mind. Our brains conflate memories and images, mix them up and turn them around, and give importance to the strangest things. Once I had my heart set on becoming a writer when I grew up, I naturally had a goal: to get my books into that very library that had inspired me.
I had forgotten about that ambition for years and years. But there I was, down on 42nd Street doing research for The Hungry Dreaming, and stepped into the library to pay proper respect to the Muses. Then I remembered. And I walked over to a terminal, typed in my name and…there it was. It took me over thirty years, but I did it. I might have gotten a little misty there. Might be right now, too. I warned you this was going to get sappy.
Of course, once you accomplish a goal there’s only one thing to do next: make a new goal. And with that, it’s time for me to get back to work. Have a great weekend!