’m reading The Man in the Iron Mask right now (kinda spooky in that I’m also watching Versailles at the same time). But Mask is a melancholy story – like our real lives, we have such passionate loves and friendships in our early years yet in the end, everyone is allied with their duties and occupations, with friendship a distant consideration. I even realized that with my best buddy on the phone last night – good friends for thirty years but a thousand miles, five kids and two spouses apart. All those long games and movie marathons – negated.
And I’m off topic.
But the point about reading Mask is that it’s an old book, 1847, and I’m having a difficult time with it (as you will find when I get the review up – my heart, how it aches). But the style is preserved, and the editor has added a number of booknotes (asterisks that index to pages in the back of the book, explaining who this is or what this was). And this takes me back to the Flashman series done in the same style (historical tale with an fictitious editor actually played by the author) to explain things. There is a lot of interesting information one can pick up outside the story.
Which takes me to my own delayed effort, Tubitz and Mergenstein. Yes, someday I’ll pick this one back up. I’ve had a number of positive responses in the first reads of the first half. But there are things I’m not happy about – there is a lot of information about this strange and lunatic place I’ve created, backstories I feel need to be included. But how to do so? To explain about an ancient section of bridge (stuck in an urban area, with houses capping its remaining summit) is cool but brings the story to a dead halt. Sometime pacing is essential. I can’t explain about the Imperic High Seas Fleet or what, exactly, is that crazy thing a Chaos Culverin fires. Either I have to leave the story and give a quick explanation, author to reader, or I need to try to describe it at such length just to hint about what it actually is. And both those (asides and over-descriptions) are no-nos in writing.
But then it hit me – why not footnotes?
It could be fun. All this crazy side information, all these random thoughts about how things work, what districts are in a city, the clothing Mergenstein wears or the social norms he follows (and Tubitz snubs) could be handled at length in the back. So that’s another note for me in the information I’ve gathered from readers. Sure, it will take a bit of effort to pull out – I’ll need to cut out the explanations and re-plane the verse to keep things smooth and fast, then add the link (along with enough explanation to make the back-search pay-off). But I think it’s a very interesting idea, one that I’m looking forward to implementing.
After I retyre, perhaps.