Absolute Zeroes Spotlight: Ark Carnahan

I’ve been super sick lately. Chronic bronchitis, which is the noncontagious kind. That means it’s good news, if annoying, for other people and really just shitty for me. I’m finally on some antibiotics and I’ve got a couple days more to go before I’m out. I haven’t been drinking alcohol, I have been drinking loads of water, and I’ve been resting as much as possible, but I’m not sure if I’ll be fully recovered by Monday. Let’s hope, because coughing all the time is goddamn exhausting.

It’s left me a weird mirror of myself: in a strangely good mood where normally I’m irritable, but sapped of energy, creativity and any sort of sexual urge. Which is weird for me. I don’t really like it. I’ve been left at home sort of twiddling my thumbs and binge-watching Netflix shows. I’ve been reading Joyland by Stephen King, which is one of his more, uh, normal works. That isn’t to say it’s not enjoyable so much as it’s different. A faster read with a slower pace and I’m not entirely sure I enjoy it as much as I do some of his other works.

But who am I to talk? So far I’m three books and done. I was supposed to start Absolute Zeroes: A Space Story months ago. I struggled out a prologue and have been sitting on it since. I went from a bad depressive break to a stressful couple months at work to a wracking sickness that has left me lethargic. I’m really trying to muster the motivation to work on writing again, and in order to do that, I had to figure out some of the reasons I didn’t feel necessarily compelled.

In short: I hated the prologue. It felt and feels forced. I took a hot shower last night and tried to figure out how to retool it, and I think I’ve come up with a solution: scrap the first half completely and work the details from it into a more natural narrative throughout the story. Keep the second half and polish it up, take my time with it. I fully intend on keeping the humor in the book (it’s supposed to be a more light-hearted PG-13 romp as opposed to the Convergence trilogy, which is very much a grim, hard R), but I don’t want it to come off as being slapstick and when I first started writing it, the urge there was too strong. I want more nuance out of it, so I’m trying to figure out how to… finesse it in that direction.

I’ve also considered writing it non-linerally, which would be different for me. I don’t know yet that it would work, but I have some scenes fully formulated in my mind and if I write them one set piece at a time and connect them afterwards, it might help the revisions in later drafts. Ha! Who the fuck knows? Not me! I’m just some kind of writer guy!

In any case, as sort of an update for people interested in what’s going on with it (nothing, so far) or what I’ve got done (almost nothing, so far), I thought I would treat my readers/fans/friends to a spotlight for each of the three main characters followed by a small, unfinished excerpt.

First up is Archimedes Carnahan. He’s probably the most lighthearted of the three childhood friends. He’s quick with a quip and is very much a people person, but his laid back attitude and flippancy tends to hide an insecure nature. His dream is to get into politics eventually, but he isn’t particularly motivated one way or another, more bluster than delivery. He’s the best talker of the three, a decent pilot and a decent shot. Meeeeeet Ark:

She propped herself up on one elbow and looked down at him. “So why all the ladies, Ark?”

“What ladies? There’s only you.”

“Right now, tonight. There’ll probably be a new one tomorrow  and if not tomorrow, soon. I see how you act when a woman catches your eye. One eye on her, the other on the door, jaw working because whatever conversation you’re working on in your head trickles down to your mouth just to see how it feels.”

She wasn’t wrong. Ark could see she knew it too and wouldn’t let it go. “I like waking up to a warm body.”

“As opposed to a cold one?”

“You know what I mean.”

She laughed softly and traced a finger through the hairs of his chest. “I do know what you mean.”

“It’s… nice, you know? The company. The validation. Knowing someone finds a comfort in me. An attraction that goes both ways and takes away from the tedium of the job or the disappointments of wherever I’m at in life at the given moment. It’s intimate, but it’s fleeting, as escapes tend to be.”

“Have you thought about settling down?”

Ark raised an eyebrow. “Are you trying to settle me down?”

“I would never make you do anything you didn’t want to do.”

“That’s my line.”

“Does it ever work on anyone?”

“On most people. It worked on you.”

“Did it? How do you know I wasn’t picking *you* up the first time we met? ‘Oh, you have your own ship? Take me now’, she said coyly, not wanting the cute boy with the drinking problem to see her messy apartment.”

“I don’t have-“

“You and Grey had already polished off two bottles of Togali Blue and were ready to go in on shots of bollah before you caught sight of me. It was a Bundet.”

“I don’t know what a Bundet is.”

“It’s like the third day of the week.”

Ark crinkled his nose. “You people have such weird names for your days.”

She laughed again and pulled her leg over his until she was straddling him. She lowered herself down so that their chests touched and she could kiss his chin. His right hand found the small of her back and kneaded softly.

“I’m not trying to settle you down, Archimedes. I like our little arrangement. If and when the day arrives that my feelings change or your stop coming around, I’ll walk away from this with a cargo hold full of fond memories. I’ll be fine. I’m just worried that you’re going to spend your life running around with your friends-“

“Grey and Caesar are my family,” Ark broke in.

“Family, then. I know they’re important to you. I know how much you need each other. I just don’t want you to miss out on everything life has to offer *you* because you’re too busy running away from it to help them.”

She kissed him again and he ran his fingers through her hair. There was a familiar anxiety in his chest that he’d come to associate with being shot at. He elected to ignore it and say nothing and continue to enjoy the feeling of her body against his for as long or as short a time as they had left.

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