Dual: Some early thoughts (guest post)

“1953 was a bad year for me: I died.”  The narrator opened this way in an episode of the Goon Show, but then went on to explain that the night’s episode wasn’t about him.

In Priest’s second digital-release novel, Dual, the episode is about the dead narrator.  And not in the usual “the narrator will now relate how they came to get killed, in flashback” sense either.  The story moves forwards, and the dead guy plays omniscient 3rd person narrator, occasionally calling characters out on their BS.  (Don’t worry about spoilers, none of the stuff I’m talking about here goes beyond “book jacket summary” revelations.)

Like Zion, it’s a gritty crime drama set in New York City and its surroundings, with characters who are all broken, flawed, or horrible in some way.  Pegged to its original time-of-conception in 1994 by plot-important historical events, it’s a little more anachronistic than Zion was, but rarely to the point you’d really notice unless things like people extending the antennae on their cellphones bug you.

The Haitian origins of the main suspects (just because the narrator is the dead guy doesn’t mean he tells us who killed him right away!) are played up for both mundane and supernatural aspects.  The generally realistic tone of the novel would normally make me assume (at my current position around the 40% mark of the story) that old man Witherspoon’s mask would be pulled off in the endgame and all the talk about loa and houngans would be just people being superstitious.

But, you know, DEAD GUY IS NARRATING.  So all bets are off when it comes to the hoodoo.

So far, so good.  (Warning: certain scenes are of a graphic sexual nature, probably not something you want to read when strangers or kids could read over your shoulder.)


  1. Oscar Jimenez says:

    I’d love to post something of interest here, but I want to read the novel first -and I will. Damn, everyone should. To anyone reading this blog entry, by the way, remember, many of you may think you ended here looking around Christopher’s blog because you love his amazing body of work in the comic medium, but you’d be, actually, dead wrong: the ultimate reason why you’re here is because of Christopher’s amazing writing, and that transcends the medium itself.

    What? No, I’m not him XD. I wish I was, I’d be writing and drawing my own books right now.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Oh my dear Lord… I wander off for a few weeks and this is whatg I find! LOL! If I weren’t an old black guy, I’d actually blush. Thx, Oscar!

  2. Review up now on the linked website, as well as on Amazon.

  3. Priest Priest says:

    DVD: thanks for taking the time to review. Re: unintended repetition: this flows from two things: (1) not having an editor: a writer really can’t edit his own work. and, (2) I am NEVER certain whether or not I have the audience with me or how often they need to be reminded of plot points, so I’m aware I tend to overdo it sometimes.

    And, yes, the sex and cussing now makes me wince a little, but I felt it important not to re-edit stuff for personal reasons but to just let it be whatever it is and let the audience decide if I am a raging hypocrite or not. DUAL, however, cannot in any way be construed as a “faith-based” work (as ZION frequently (mistakenly) is; ZION is no more a faith-based work than is Elmore Leonard’s “Pagan Babies;” the black church happens to be the subject matter. It is, otherwise, just my usual morality play with severely dysfunctional heroes and villains.

    DUAL was rejected by several publishers because of the dead guy narrating. One offered a contract if I’d rewrite it to omniscient narrator, but, like ZION, DUAL was written for me. It’s rare that I get to write for me, without worrying overmuch about commercial concerns (or demands of publishers). When you write for a living, you never have time to write for fun. These novels, lying around on hard drives for years (along with BLUE: A Love Story, due in September), were just me writing to be writing. I’m actually putting more work into prepping them for release (currently thru Amazon but soon everywhere) than I put into their initial drafts.

    I do have a short story in a yet-to-be-announced hardcover (this summer, I think) that is a prequel of sorts to DUAL and set in that universe (as is BLUE: A Love Story). The short story is new, BLUE is a half-written novel begun in 1994 and abandoned somewhere along the way because I was so busy writing comics (and because my agent had such a rough time with DUAL).

    DVD write: “… characters who are all broken, flawed, or horrible in some way.”

    As I see it, all writing (or at least, all writing of some integrity) is, at the end of the day, a search for truth. Here’s my lecture about truth:

    The last Music CD I produced was Minister Darryl Cherry & The Covenant Mass Choir, an epic (and royal pain in the rear) production consisting of a large band and 85-voice choir. There were dozens of vocal and instrumental tracks made all the worse because, after I recorded the concert live, Reverend Cherry, the artist and co-producer, transferred the recording from 1-inch tape to 8-track ADAT cassettes. We then transferred it from the ADATS to 2-inch 24-track tape. But nobody put calibration tones on any of it (which help me align the tape heads) and, worse, the intervening engineers did not maintain a consistent track sheet. Sometimes the bass guitar was on track four. Sometimes it was on track nineteen.

    The final mixdown was an endless scavenger hunt, ferreting out the various performances, the live choirs vocals from a set of choir vocals later recorded in studio, and adding new lead vocal performances and remastering everything to bring the sound up to date.

    Worse, I had never worked in that studio before, so I couldn’t tell what I was listening to. I was used to my own home studio, to my own speakers an EQ setup, where I knew that a snare drum sounded like X and would sound consistent in my car, on a boom box, etc. In the studio, my ears weren’t used to their speakers of EQ, so I couldn’t tell what was “true:” if I needed more or less punch, so I kept grabbing cassettes of mixes and running down to my car to play it on the car stereo, whose speakers I was used to and could, therefore, make a baseline comparison with what I would get at my own studio.

    In music engineering, “truth” represents that snare drum sounding exactly the same across all devices. Something could sound amazing in the studio and suck when you play it later on your iPod or what have you.

    In writing, truth is even more elusive. Most writers write themselves or people they know or mix and match fractions thereof in a passionate if subliminal effort to work out problems in their head. What is true and what is not? What plays well across all devices?

    My characters are broken because I’m broken, and I feel like, if they can find some resolution or truth, then there’s certainly hope for me.

    I haven’t written a good novel yet. I’ve written pop novels–which are good in their own way and flawed in others. But, like every writer, I want to write The Good Earth. I want to write To Kill A Mockingbird. I want to write something that is just *amazing,* but I’m not there yet, and life is too distracting for me to make the kind of investment in writing that I’d like to.

  4. Trev Trev says:

    Priest: I want to write To Kill A Mockingbird. I want to write something that is just *amazing,* but I’m not there yet, and life is too distracting for me to make the kind of investment in writing that I’d like to.

    Man, I feel the same way. I would love to write a comic book series but I’m struggling badly simply because I want it to write something brilliant. I have a load of unfinished work on USB because I get an idea going and then find that it doesn’t make sense, or I just think what I’m writing is rubbish. Getting through the first draft is a brutal experience. I can see all my faults: the bad dialogue, characters without ‘voices’, bad pacing and poor introductions. Then there’s that voice, the one that tells me ‘ this is horrible. Give up.’ Wow, that voice can be loud.

    Kudos to anyone who has taken the time to sit down and finish a novel, script, poetry,etc. no matter whether they think it’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ or something sitting in the slush pile.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Trev: agree wholeheartedly. Just getting to “The End” in a manuscript deserves a pat on the back. As I mentioned, the advantage to the two published eBooks was I wrote them, essentially, for fun, w/o worrying about any of the concerns you noted or taking myself too seriously. The third novel, “1999,” due April 24th (what? Is it May already?) was actually commissioned work for Platinum Comics, and as such was worked on much longer (nearly two years) and taken much more seriously. “1999,” which is more in line with my comics works (i.e. super-heroes sort of), has been delayed. I can’t say why or for how long other than it has nothing to do with the manuscript and that the delay is not necessarily a bad thing, but something I can’t talk about because I honestly don’t know what the deal will be.

  5. Trev Trev says:

    I look forward to reading ‘1999 ‘. I think you mentioned that it might be a prequel to an ongoing comic book series, which I’m very excited about!

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