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****Danny Adams’s DAYWORLD: A HOLE IN WEDNESDAY is #80 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt. All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece.
Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? Dayworld: A Hole in Wednesday. There were no other names I seriously considered; this was a work started (but never finished) by someone else – my great-uncle, the science fiction author Philip José Farmer – and he came up with the name when he wrote the opening chapters several decades ago. I liked the name too, but even if I hadn’t, I still almost certainly wouldn’t have changed it.
What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I started writing it in August of 2015, giving myself a deadline of Christmas to finish it. I just barely made it, finishing up, if I remember right, two days before Christmas. As for when Phil Farmer wrote his portion, nobody is exactly sure. It was likely either in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. I have a small writing room that was originally meant to be, I think, a nursery. It’s tiny and with a small closet, but cozy for me, not many distractions (except bookshelves lining the walls), and a view of a forest stretching out from my backyard (which admittedly can also be distracting). The tops of the computer and monitor are filled with trinkets, knick-knacks, souvenirs, and other sentimental objects that have at least some connection, if thin, with my writing, writing life, or other creative pursuits from over the years, like a window quartz (for occasional staring into if I’m stuck on some plot point), a small NCC-1701 USS Enterprise, and a tiny warning traffic cone that says CHAOS AHEAD.
(The computer, a desktop that’s about a dozen years old, is bulky, and the 20-year-old monitor even moreso, so there’s plenty of room for stuff on top of them.) There are also a couple of small display shelves with more small items ranging from geodes and artifacts I’ve found to a metal model of the Red Baron’s Fokker Dr.I triplane. (The plane in part is another nod to Phil Farmer.) At the time of year I’m writing this (mid-summer), I’ll also have a box fan blowing on me.
What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? My habits then and now are pretty sparse when I’m sitting down for the first draft. Pre-writing, editing later, coming up with story ideas – those are all over the map. I can do those anywhere (including the noisy cafeteria at the college where I work), while listening to music, having a TV on in the background, or whatever else. But when I sit down to write new material I like to be as quiet and shut away as possible. (I even somehow manage to ignore my cats scratching on the door.) I might have a (non-alcoholic) drink nearby. Otherwise, that’s all. I typically write from late morning to early afternoon; this is partly due to my work schedule, but conveniently it’s also when I seem to get my best work done.
What is the summary of this specific fiction work? This is a prequel to Phil Farmer’s famous Dayworld trilogy, in which overpopulation and other factors became so wretched that you’re only allowed to live one day out of seven – the rest of the time you’re in suspended animation while other people live in your apartment, have your job (even if you’re the president), and so on. The worst crime is “Daybreaking” – illegally living across all seven days of the week.
Jerry Carson is just an ordinary guy who doesn’t want to rock any boats. But when his wife miscarries, and he realizes many other women are miscarrying in this age of supposed medical miracles, he starts an investigation that ends up forcing him to become a Daybreaker. In doing so he comes into contact with a secret group composed of Daybreakers who are working to bring the whole system crashing down – and set up a new only-the-strongest-survive society from the ruins.
“Stoners”, by the way, are the coffin-like containers that people use to stay in suspended animation for six out of seven days.
Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt?
Jerry has broken through the “hole in Wednesday”, his Day, into Thursday, but his investigation and explorations aroused suspicion and he was captured by a doctor and would-be dictator named Marks. When the scene picks up he has escaped and is on the run just barely ahead of Marks and the authorities. He is guided into and through an underground labyrinth by an anonymous voice he has been hearing through an implant in his skull, which claims to be a member of a anti-government movement called the “Reductionists” and which has promised to help him figure out the truth of not just his situation, but the Dayworld at large.
Please include the excerpt and include page numbers as reference. The excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer. Pages 143-146
Jerry lunged into a different world.
On the surface nothing appeared different. The twelve flights of stairs he bounded down were nothing more than stairs, although the walls were still blank and pulsing, devoid even here of the paintings and entertainment programs that normally filled the spaces and the minds of those who passed on the escalators. The light seemed a little dim, which could have been the result of the alarm or Jerry’s constricting blood vessels forcing tunnel vision
on his eyes, he couldn’t tell which. But the world he left behind last Wednesday was gone, forever irretrievable, and the farther downward he ranged, the deeper his drowning in this black and unimaginable unknown felt.
And helpless fury. Fury at himself for daybreaking, for learning things he could never unlearn. Fury at himself for managing to connect the timer with Linda’s miscarriages. Fury at Marks for dragging Jerry into a thorny net that mortified his flesh with every move, and fury at the Reductionist voice in his skull that resumed speaking the moment Jerry burst into the stairwell.
“Now having cast your lot with us, Mr. Carson,” the ubiquitous voice told him, “we have a job for you.”
Jerry didn’t reply, partly because he was having trouble breathing, partly because he was concentrating on not tumbling the rest of the way down the stairs, and partly because the statement only added to his fury.
“At the bottom of these stairs is another exit across from the public one. You will take it. In doing so you will also add significantly to the time you are given to evade pursuit.”
Jerry had thought he was in good physical shape, but was exhausted enough when he reached the bottom of the staircase and already so used to running downward he stumbled over the last step, nearly falling into the door the voice had described. But there was no obvious way to open the door, no keypad or frequency receptor. Only a small dark bubble atop the doorframe which Jerry recognized as a biometric scanner for entry
access. It was a sure bet the scanner would refuse to recognize Jerry, and more than one failed scan, if that many, would trigger an alarm.
“How do I . . . ?” Jerry began, but a whirring emanated from the door as it slid open just enough for Jerry to slip sidelong through.
“Proceed,” the voice said with infuriating calm. Jerry complied. These halls and the stairs the voice directed him through were sheathed in white metal, bright with sourceless lighting but without pulsating walls, and no artwork or vidfeeds either. It was as if the labyrinth was sentient and wanted to be as nondescript as possible, forcing any unauthorized person to guess blindly as to
their location and purpose. The only indication this buried place was used by human beings was an alphanumeric designation on each otherwise featureless door, and the name Burroughs at every intersection.
There was a slight downward angle to the floor, barely noticeable but after a few lung-wracked moments Jerry was sure he had descended enough to now be several stories under the building.
Into the underworld figuratively and literally, then; some back corner of his brain wondered how far and long his Tartaran descent would last, this Faustian trade of one devil for another.
But then, if his grandmother truly had been a spy, it seemed she was one long enough to still be so when Jerry was around, meaning subdecades, not a prospect Jerry relished, and the thought only served to fuel his mounting anger.
He wondered if the corridors were shielded as well, if his emotions as well as his location were hidden from Marks. It seemed logical, particularly given the voice’s comment about gaining more time. But Jerry didn’t want to gamble any more than he had to on whatever additional time he was given, and in just a few seconds he was back at a full run and turning every which way, ever downward, as the voice in his skull snapped directions.
Now and again a door blocked his flight. Those requiring key-frequencies to open popped open automatically, no doubt at the Reductionists’ command. With others, Jerry punched in each code as the voice recited it to him.
The door designations switched from alphanumeric to a name with a number attached, but not using any logic Jerry could determine. He reasoned these must be more secure areas and each designation represented a code. Ten at one door exactly like the others, which was to say completely blank aside from the non-revealing designation KRUBERA-7208, a dark cavern opened before Jerry.
When he entered it was completely black, for just an instant, but long enough for him to hear his footfalls absorbed by a vastness of which he was only instinctively aware. Light found him slowly, rising up from the floor like cold white lava as more melted down the walls. All of the multiple sources of light coalesced on Jerry and followed him as he obeyed the instruction to continue moving forward. The farther he walked the more his illuminated island reached out with probing tentacles to touch
objects around him, surrounding him, filling the Brobdingnagian abyss.
Jerry realized with horror that he was in a stoner chamber—but one where the growing light was touching hundreds of cylinders, which seemed to be made of gray paper, mounted horizontally and vertically for stories above him on thick silver rods into the darkness and silence.
In the darkness beyond he sensed thousands more, all with the feeling of their not being opened or even touched in an extremely long time. Longer than Jerry’s own lifetime. None of the stoners he could see were empty. Each had a nameplate, with a chip Jerry guessed would provide scanners with the occupant’s personal information, along with their illness or crime.
“And now, Mr. Carson,” the voice said, “we begin adding some pieces to the whole, and rearranging those already in place.”
Jerry found himself barely able to breathe again, but this time it had nothing to do with exhaustion. He was walking slowly among the stoners, the chase relegated to the backmost corners of his overheating brain, with a near-reverence he could not explain.
A few names stirred something familiar in his mental corners, but looking at the faces did nothing to help. These stoners barely had more than small viewing slits rather than the large windows of those in the rest of the NYC domes, so all they afforded was a glimpse of the face and none at all of any clothing.
“What do you want me to do?” Jerry asked, then said it again when he realized he was whispering.
“These are prisoners, Mr. Carson. Political prisoners. I will give you names, and you will free them.”
Why is this excerpt so emotional for you? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? This passage marked a transition in a couple of ways. For the character of Jerry Carson, it was a turning point, and a point of no return. Once he crossed this last threshold there was definitely no turning back. He could never try to sneak back to Wednesday, live the normal and simple life he had before.
For me, this was close to where Phil Farmer stopped writing and I picked up his work. Even having finished one of his books before, I was still nervous about the whole process. For that previous book - The City Beyond Play – he had been able to guide me through the process to an extent. He passed away some years before Hole in Wednesday, and at the point of this excerpt, I was close to where I left off and was committing to writing a story that was as much my creation as his without that guidance. He was a master (and literally a science fiction Grand Master); I was still a novice by comparison.
So there was a lot of anxiety at this point both personally and for where the story went from Jerry’s flight - but also a lot of excitement. I wanted to write a book was worthy of his series, but I was also thrilled to be able to play in his universe, one I’d been a fan of for years. Even after working on the book for a little while by this point, reaching this scene and going beyond it really felt like plunging into that universe for the first time.
Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. I didn’t have very many deletions, honestly – which for me is extremely unusual. Typically my first drafts are hugely overwritten, and I end up cutting out big swaths. This time, though, in imitating Phil Farmer’s much more concise voice, my pendulum swung far to the other direction. At numerous requests from my editors, I had to get used to adding material rather than subtracting.
Other works you have published? I also helped finish the last of Phil Farmer’s books that were published while he was still alive, a short novel titled The City Beyond Play, from PS Publishing. For a nice while I had an early medieval / post-Arthurian historical novel out titled Lest Camelot Fall, but sad to say it disappeared when its publisher (Musa) went under in 2015. I’ve toyed with the idea of self-publishing it, though haven’t done so yet. I’ve also published a number of short stories and poems (mostly science fiction and fantasy), a few essays (including one on Harry Potter’s parallels with King Arthur for Salem Press’ Critical Insights series), and lots of anonymous speculative fiction book reviews for Publishers Weekly.
Anything you would like to add? Speaking of emotion…my uncle was the man who got me seriously interested in writing when I was 12 years old (right), something that latched on then and has never let go, and it was a longtime dream of mine to collaborate with him. It took years – when The City Beyond Play originally came out in 2007, I was 36 and he was 89. There are a lot of reasons why it might not have happened, and almost didn’t. But when he passed away just two years later I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I’d been able to do it. I tried imagining how I might have felt if I hadn’t or hadn’t been able to, and I didn’t like the feeling coming with that imagining. So I would say to anyone reading this that if you have a creative project of your heart that you want to do but for some reason you haven’t done it yet, and there is any possibility that you can – get going!
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Dayworld: A Hole In Wednesday
Dayworld: A Hole In Wednesday
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