Unfiction: how we got here

enclosed herein: a blog post in which the author attempts to explain in greater detail what Unfiction is, without giving anything away, i.e., an exercise in evasive description, or perhaps descriptive evasion.

What is Unfiction?? 

try again.

Okay so, here’s the deal. I have this new book coming out in a month called Unfiction, and none of you know anything about it and I can’t tell you anything about it because if i did it would spoil some of the surprises in the story. This is terrible, because I also have to tell you about the story because nobody buys a book with only a title and a pretty cover to go on. Not even if they buyer is a blood relative of the author. Don’t lie to me, family, I know.

I faced this problem before, when putting together the blurb for Unfiction, and also when writing the promo stuff for The Spaceship Next Door.

[Minor spoiler ahead for The Spaceship Next Door that isn’t even a spoiler if you read, like, more than two reviews of the book]

You won’t know from reading any of the ad copy that zombies turn up about halfway through Spaceship, because I don’t say it anywhere. That was a conscious choice. The people who HATE zombies think I did this because I didn’t want them to know, but actually I assumed zombies were going to be a big selling point. I excluded that info from the blurbs because it’s something that happens in the last 40% of the book, and the last 40% of the book is one big, gigantic plot twist/secret that the first 60% builds up to, and I didn’t want to spoil any of it.

Not even the part where there are zombies.

in which the author realizes he’s implied there are zombies in Unfiction.

This is not to say that there are zombies in Unfiction. There aren’t. No zombies. Ghosts, yes.

So basically, the blurb—that’s the book description you see on all the sales pages—for Unfiction is a hard-fought compromise between me and the editor. I wanted to give away a lot in order to interest readers and she wanted to give away nothing. This is just about entirely my fault, because she went into it knowing nothing; I just sent her the book and her fee and waited to see what she thought.

If I could get all of you to read it that way, I would. Except for the part about a fee

off-track once more, the author tries to get back to the point by re-reading the title of the blog post

How did we get here? Let’s start with this: Unfiction used to be called M Pallas up until about a month ago. That was the working title when I first thought of this thing roughly two years back, so if you’re looking for a historical record of the story, you can mine my old blogs for mentions.

Also roughly two years back, I was still with a publisher, and I’d just begun writing novellas and self-publishing them in-between novels. (This was where all of the books in The Immortal Chronicles came from.) I started taking self-publishing seriously for the first time when those novellas began to earn more than the novels.

The idea for M Pallas was originally a series of novellas—seven or eight—that both stood on their own as independent stories and as part of a larger story. But the concept required that I write as many as six entirely contained stories in six different genres.

The conceit was that it wasn’t me writing the stories at all: it was a character (Oliver) on the outskirts of all the stories who was writing them. For the first six books he would only have minor appearances on the margins, getting notes.

Book seven was where shit would really start to go down.

What I learned, quickly, was that it’s hard to write novellas in certain genres. Epic fantasy, for instance, is the sort of thing meant for multiple dictionary-sized books. (Because: epic.) Also, I’m really good at starting stories in a wide array of genres but not as good at finishing them, or rather, not as good at finishing them in 25,000 words or less.

So in 2015, after about 10,000 words into the story called Kingdom, I stopped writing, and put it aside.

Two things happened to turn the project called M Pallas into the novel called Unfiction. The first was that I realized the novella market isn’t quite as robust as I thought. Yes, I made sales there, and yes, it was more than I was making from the traditionally published books, but the sales from full novels (specifically, The Spaceship Next Door) made those novella sales look a whole lot worse by comparison.

The second thing I realized was that the problem with finishing the stories wasn’t my problem.

It was Oliver’s problem.

in which the author realizes he sounds insane

Now I’m veering closer to revealing too much, but trust me when I say this realization was important: it made the struggle to write, a part of the story I was struggling to write.

forget it, you’ve lost them

No, I’ve got this.

All right, I can’t really explain how my Oliver’s inability to finish things became a key part of the story without giving away too much, so… okay so here’s another try at explaining what this book is.

Unfiction is a story I wrote about a bunch of stories another guy wrote.


Unfiction is a bunch of stories getting together to tell another story.

please just give up

Unfiction is a dialogue between an author and the art of creativity.

ugh. really?

All right. Um. Just go read it. Then it’ll make sense, and we can talk about it some more.


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  1. Brenda Osborn on May 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Ok you’re right, it makes no sense but I am intrigued! Can’t wait to read it!!

  2. Fleur Williamson on January 6, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    I’m happy to say that I ready Unfiction (well, listened to really, because I’m strictly an Audible ‘reader’) purely because of the Author name. I have learned to trust that I will love anything with Gene Doucette on the cover.

    I wasn’t sure at first about I different narrator being used. I love Steve Carlson’s voice so much, in fact, even these blog posts are read with Steve Carlson’s voice in my mind. But the new narrator was just fine. It made me appreciate that it’s not just the voice…. it’s the writing that I love.

    The thought that kept popping into my mind while I was reading Unfiction was that it would translate so well to a movie. More so that the immortal books, which are first person and rely so much on amusing thoughts. Unfiction has some great visual action. I would love to see it translated to screen.

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