During my cyberstalking researching of Barry for this interview, I learned that he is a fan of Stephen King, especially the Dark Tower series. I, too, am a fan of the Dark Tower series, although I do think King lost it a bit when he wrote and released the final books in quick succession following his car accident. I will forgive Stephen, however, because that is what one does; he is the Jeff Bridges of horror fiction, and the King abides.
The thing about the Dark Tower books, though, is that it isn’t simply a 7 book series. There are related short stories scattered hither and yon, and characters from many King books make an appearance in or are referenced to in the Tower books (although King never brought back the characters from The Eyes of the Dragon in the big way that I was hoping, and I still cry about that sometimes–oh, Steve, why must you make a librarian cry?).
Barry is doing something similar with his Brookdale novels, albeit on a much smaller scale, but the effect is the same. By having a common location, and a time frame that overlaps, we are reminded that stories do not take place in a vacuum, and that even though most of the time we are caught up in our own little dramas, everyone around us has their own dramas as well, and events make an impact. The introduction to the short story “Her Decade” has the most information about Barry’s Brookdale world, if you’re interested.
Enough of my blathering on; how English major of me. Here’s the original question:
I read that King’s Dark Tower series is one of your favorite extended pieces of fiction. You’re sort of creating your own King-like universe by using Brookdale as a setting and having characters from different novels and short stories pop up in different places. Was this a conscious decision, and do you think your Brookdale will ever reach King-esque proportions? Do you think some day someone will write a Barry Lyga/Brookdale concordance?
I think mentioning my work in the same breath as King’s Dark Tower is a stretch, to be honest with you. He’s working on a whole different kind of canvas than I am, at least with respect to the complexity and diversity of the Dark Tower stories. Honestly, with Brookdale I was reaching more for Faulkner* and Yoknapatawpha County, with the idea of stories that stand apart, but are interlinked in the backstory. And, God, I just realized how unremittingly arrogant it sounds to compare myself to Faulkner! I’m not saying I think I’m as good as he is –just that he sort of inspired the move to connect the stories. Well, that and comic books, of course. Just about everything I do probably connects to comic books in some way, shape or form, whether I realize it or not.
As to the proportions Brookdale will reach… I don’t know. It’s strange to think about because I have some other things I’m branching out into right now, new universes to play in, so Brookdale is sort of off to the side temporarily. There are at least a half dozen other books set in Brookdale knocking around in my head, though, so once I have the time to write them, we’ll see how much broader that particular world becomes. I never know these things until they actually show up on the page.
And hey — if someone wants to do a Brookdale concordance, I’d be tickled!
I say give Barry ten years, and there will more than likely be a demand for a concordance.
We’re reaching the end, friends. I think all that’s left is one more Chicago question from Barry to be answered…and then he will actually be in Chicago, if I haven’t soured him on the idea entirely. Just don’t try to park anywhere and you’ll be fine, Mr. Lyga.
*I haven’t read as much Faulkner as I should, so I was only dimly aware of this Faulkner world of related characters/incidents. I read As I Lay Dying in college, though, and my professor, Rich Martin, told us a great story about how the first time he read As I Lay Dying, when he got to the chapter that consisted of the sentence “My mother is a fish,” he threw the book across the room and didn’t pick it up again for a week. I’d love to write something–anything–that would cause the reader to forcefully fling the book across the room. The power! bwa ha ha….