In response to Monday's post about "Radiant Doors," perhaps my bleakest story (unless it's "The Dead"... how do you quantify such things?), Mark Pontin posted the following request:
... But perhaps at some point you'll take a break from Darger & Surplus and dragons -- however profitable and entertained the audience for such fiction might be -- and take the chance to write more stories like 'Radiant Doors'?
This is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. Alas, the answer is anything but straightforward.
It's true that I've been writing a lot of what Graham Greene called "entertainments" lately. In addition to the works cited, there are also my Mongolian Wizard stories, the fourth of which will be appearing at Tor.com soon. These were inspired by Poul Anderson's Operation Werewolf and the Lord Darcy stories by Randall Garrett. and there are three more stories in various stages of completion on my hard drive. I imagine these would also be seen as a distraction.
Why have I been writing entertainments? I honestly don't know. The imagination is a horse. I've learned how to ride mine, but not how to tell it where to go. All I can do is hang on and hope for the best.
This does not mean that I won't be writing any serious stories. On the side of the bookshelf by my desk, I have post-it notes with the names of six novels and a dozen shorter works I hope to get to in the foreseeable future. They do include a new Darger & Surplus story. But also a major collaboration with Gardner Dozois, a long story about dissecting a giant intelligent alien worm, a story set on a cloud, a Christmas story, a fantasy I promised Marianne for Dragonstairs Press, a werewolf story...
Most of these stories are nothing like you'd imagine they would be. They are all worth writing. And some of them are very dark indeed. But which will get written when? And what new ideas will rise up from the primordial murk in the meantime? Your guess is as good as mine.
I'm only riding the beast. And so far as I can tell, he doesn't take requests.