With Wouldn't Be Fitting published, I've taken time to think about my next writing projects, specifically looking some unfinished pieces and contemplating which to turn my attention to and bring to completion as well. I have two in mind.
The first will be a piece of genre fiction, something kind of light, which I think I will write under a second pen-name, Jame Griffin, to distinguish it from more literary work. Inspired by my long-running love of comic books, The Red Wraith: Legacy of the Hood will follow the adventures of the titular masked vigilante, sworn protector of the fictional Titan City, whose crime-fighting career begins in 1939 and whose name and mantle pass through several hands into present day, when, in 2019, a young woman named Grace Chapel, the protagonist of the story, makes his acquaintance.
I began The Red Wraith while actually waiting on feedback during the tail end of the editing process for Woudn't Be Fittin'. It was a fun departure, and I worry a little it may be too much of a departure for a follow-up, but I remember what Doug's son Joel Haas told me about his father Ben's writing process. He could bang out a formulaic paperback Western in about two weeks, one a month, and use the remaining couple weeks of the month to research and develop one of his literary novels like Look Away, Look Away or The House of Christina.
It seems like a good system, maybe one that will work for me. And I think there's merit to having something lighter to work on while I also work on promoting Wouldn't Be Fittin'. It has been several months since I really sat with the story though, so I need to revisit it, and I think bringing it to readings at the third Wednesday open mic at Lucky Tree in Raleigh will help with that (Shout-out to all my supportive fellow writers.).
Following that, I want to return to something I've been researching for a long time. It's frankly brewed in my mind for at least the past 25 years, since I read the book of Luke as a 15yo and thought, "Hey, I get what this Jesus guy is saying..." It's the reason I finished my undergrad with a degree in religious studies, and the novel I planned to work on while pursuing my MA in creative writing--except that I came to realize, with the help of my classmates, that I really wasn't skilled enough of a writer to pull of what I had in mind just yet.
And what I had in mind is a novel that imagines a historical Jesus as a young man who doesn't have all the details of his future ministry simply handed to him by divine inspiration, but arrives at them over time, as he grows into manhood in first century Galilee occupied by the Roman Empire, a son of uncertain parentage who seems odd to those around him.
My intention in this isn't blasphemous, although I know it may upset some to see a character named Jesus who isn't perfectly pure and effortlessly imbued with the Spirit. But for those who want that kind of Jesus, plenty of others have written him. I'd like to instead present an image of someone who became famous for saying, "Turn the other cheek," "Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors," and "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and came to these spiritual principles the hard way, through the messiness of life, without innate wisdom handing them to him, just like spiritual heroes like Martin Luther, Mahatma Ghandi, and Rumi, and just like us regular shlubs have to.