Picture us sitting by the fireplace, three cats on the footstools, people in the armchairs, fire chirking cheerfully away.
“I want to write a horror story,” I said.
Husband smiles. Kid still buried in her book., turns a page.
“I think it should be set in Isla Vista,” I said, making it up as I go. Isla Vista is the cramped and crammed little unincorporated area by the University where college students and miscellaneous live cheek by jowl, in a city that isn’t. Messy, sprawly, absentee landlords and no parking left over. Coastal California at its messiest.
“People disappear,” I said. Husband sips wine, the dark red of it lovely in the glass.
“But no one cares,” I said. “No one’s paying any attention because the missing are the homeless. No one but the homeless themselves worry, and the few people who run the shelters. But since there’s no idea of who is where and when, the police don’t have a real idea if someone who’s missing is really gone. But they are really gone, in fact, they’ve been digested.”
The kid looks up, the firelight glints off her wire-rims.
“Good,” she says with a note of admiration that I love to hear.
“But nothing can be digested without there being something left behind,” I said. “And what’s left behind, looks like…”
“Duck shit,” the kid said. “There’s duck crap all over Isla Vista.”
“Duck shit. Yes. The things that are digesting the homeless have camouflaged the left-overs as duck shit.”
“And they’ve camouflaged themselves as…?” Husband makes a lap for the gray cat who’s become overheated by the fire.
“Trash, some kind of ubiquitous trash that’s all over the place, like the duck shit. The eaters are aliens, and they have the ability to morph their mobile units to mimic something on any new planet so their presence goes unnoticed, at least for a while.”
So this is how the novel I Haven’t Seen Him had its genesis, silly though this conversation may sound. Horror, yes, with tongue in cheek here and there. Horror but lighter than either of my published novels. I used a nanowrimo month a couple of years ago to draft the whole novel after this conversation by the fire, then rewrote it a couple of times before putting it in my agent’s hands.
I mailed it off to the publisher yesterday afternoon, because he read the first chapters, liked them, then requested the whole. Now we wait and see.