Six years ago I had this idea. I thought it was fairly simple at the time. I was heavy into podcast fiction—serialized on-demand audio fiction, for the uninitiated—and I wanted to write a story that would bridge the books-on-tape-but-now-on-the-internet thing everyone else was doing with the medium in which we were doing it. It was a medium that lent itself much more toward episodic and audio drama.
That idea became The Failed Cities Monologues. I created two dystopian cities and told their story through the revolving voices and perspectives of eight different characters. I tried my best to climb as deeply as possible inside each one’s skull and make their voice as distinct and singular and real as my limited abilities would allow.
When I was finished I had a novel-length work that wasn’t quite one thing and wasn’t quite five other things and was as good as I could write any story at the time. It was serialized on the now retired Variant Frequencies podcast and then remastered and retooled and made available on Podiobooks. Where it has remained, completely free, ever since.
It didn’t explode the internet or the podosphere or the publishing industry. It didn’t go viral. It didn’t net me a six-figure novel contract. What it did, to my surprise and tentative pleasure, was slowly and steadily gather unto it a devoted group of shockingly ardent fans and supporters to whom it seemed to mean an awful lot. They all seemed to seize on the characters and the world in a way you hope people will but never actually expect them to.
It got pretty crazy. They made elaborate costumes and props and came to conventions dressed as the characters. They made their own tabletop RPG’s. They wrote me insanely long, detailed e-mails about how they related to their favorite Failed Cities resident and why and what it meant to them.
Those fans have remained. They’ve relistened to the podcast episodes thousands of times. They’ve continued to follow me over the interwebs, gobbling up every sparse consumer offering I put out there. You may be one of them. If you are, I owe you thanks, and something more.
And people are still discovering the Failed Cities to this day. In the past year I’ve gotten tweets and e-mails from new listeners and fans in Hawaii, Singapore, Canada, just to say thanks. That’s all. A couple of American film students wrote to tell me how obsessed with it they’d become and ask if they could adapt it into a webseries as their thesis project.
When the Failed Cities hook someone, it seems, the hook sinks deep and anchors unyielding.
You can’t ask for more as an author.
Pretty much since the beginning its fans have asked me when they can buy the Failed Cities in print and read it like a novel. This is a dictum that has been repeated by fans of my other stuff who don’t enjoy audio fiction and have been waiting this whole time to get into the monologues. I was no less interested than they in seeing that happen. It came close several times, but as I refused to publish it on anyone’s terms save my own the deal always fell apart for one reason or another. So I’ve kept it close as I’ve kicked around the country working on other things, and the text has never been made available in any form at any time.
Next month—November 14th, 2012, to be precise—I will be releasing THE FAILED CITIES – DEFINITIVE EDITION as an ebook and making it available in all digital formats. This book is more than just the monologues; it will collect all of my Failed Cities writings from the past six years. Everything. It will also include brand new, never-before-released fiction that will be the first (and possibly last) Failed Cities stories I’ve published in almost three years. In addition, there will be extra content written by some very special guests and me.
I have worked, and will continue to work, to make this book something special, something worthwhile, and something worthy.
After six years, if you’re still taking the ride with me you deserve nothing less.
I hope you’re still out there. I hope you still care as much as you did. I hope you’ll buy it. I hope for the fervent among you who have never stopped pestering me about this that it meets your expectations.
I also hope, if you got onto my stuff later or have never heard or heard of the Failed Cities before, that you’ll choose now to buy the ticket.
Beyond that I cannot stress how important it is that you spread the word about this. Word-of-mouth is God. I am doing this whole thing entirely on my own. I forewent any panhandling Kickstarter bullshit and laid out the cost and time to create the most polished and professional product I possibly could and get it to you as hassle-free as I could.
Promoting the book is no different. I don’t even have a podcast backing me at this point. It’s just me, tweeting in my polarizing way and e-mailing any even slightly influential person I know or with whom I have credit to help get the word out.
Just one asshole ringing a bell on the corner.
Please help me out with that part.
I need you to buy it, and I need you encourage as many people as possible to do the same. If you’ve been a silent fan/follower/admirer I appreciate you leaving me the hell alone all these years, but now is the time to get loud.
Horrendously, obnoxiously, compulsively, continuously loud.
The success of this book will also determine whether or not I release more full-length ebooks. I have another one on deck, ready to go, that will see my other enduring podcast world in text form for the first time. I’ve got two more in the pipeline. I’m also working on a new novel that I tentatively plan to release next year if this all plays well.
So, if you’ve been waiting for years to read the Failed Cities and hear your own version of the voices contained therein, the time has come.
If you’ve been waiting for more long form fiction from me, the time is coming.
But only if we can make this one sing.
Next week I will be posting the brand new and utterly gorgeous cover of THE FAILED CITIES – DEFINITIVE EDITION as well as its official Table of Contents. I’m very excited about both, and if you’re into this you will be, too.
Welcome back to the Failed Cities, my friends.