Cemetery Dance reviews editor/columnist Kevin Lucia is writing a Halloween serial novel one day at a time on his blog. We thought it might be something our readers would enjoy as we count down to our favorite holiday! Check out Kevin’s essay on the origins of The Mask, and follow the links at the end to read along.
Two weeks ago, I found the weirdest mask in our school’s dirt cellar.
The dirt cellar—which began life as a fallout shelters in the fifties—is where all sorts of things get stored. Things like old desks, cabinets, bookshelves, toilets, tables…you name it. Boxes of old textbooks, old televisions, all the things a school might store over the years instead of throwing out, just because they “might” be needed sometime in the future.
So, last Monday, on inspiration, I typed the following:
It was the ugliest mask Lester had ever seen. Bulging, uneven eyes. A wide, screaming mouth. Crooked rotten teeth, and stringy black hair which felt entirely too real. The face’s sickly gray rubber felt wrong between his fingers. Too slick. Too viscous. Like it wasn’t entirely solid and might dissolve between his fingertips at any moment, even though he could see very clearly it looked dry, and solid.
Lester didn’t like it. Not one bit.
I decided I wanted to write a serial novel about a strange mask found in the basement of a school. I had no specific idea of where the story should go, or how it should end. I simply wanted to write a novel, chapter by chapter, every day for the month of October. I’ve always wanted to write a Halloween novel, and have never managed to. I decided—because I am slightly nuts—that I would make this October my personal NANOWRIMO.
As the chapters progressed, I realized why I wanted to take on such an exercise. While I’ve enjoyed some success in the short story and novella form, I’ve yet to complete a publishable novel. The biggest reason, I believe, is I overburden myself with thinking too much about the novel in its entirety. Wondering how it will ultimately end, what all the characters ultimately want, what it all means.
What I really wanted to do—have wanted to do for some time now—is simply pick a starting point, and go. Decide every day what I was writing that day only and save whatever was going to happen next for the following day.
And thus: my Halloween serial novel, The Mask. The goal is to complete it by Halloween. I have no idea how it ends. I have no idea what the mask is, or what it means. All I know is what I’ve written so far, and what I wrote today. I will figure out tomorrow when I write tomorrow.
Want to come along for the ride?
Kevin Lucia is the Reviews Editor for Cemetery Dance. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. His first short story collection, Things Slip Through, was published November 2013, and his most recent short story collection, Things You Need, was released September, 2018. He’s currently working on his first novel. For free monthly fiction, book reviews, YouTube commentaries, and three free ebooks, visit www.kevinlucia.blogspot.com and sign up for his monthly email newsletter.