Hello everyone! I have a special guest on the blog today – K. Piet from Storm Moon Press. I was checking out the recent serials from them and couldn’t wait to delve into both. I am really curious to see how they’ll treat the Dorian Gray angle. Thankfully K. Piet offered to write a guest post about just that thing! Great minds thinking alike I tell you. So read on..you don’t want to miss it.
Today, I’m thrilled to be here on Kassa’s 3AM blog to announce the release of the first episode in the serial fiction line that I’ve started with my co-author, S.L. Armstrong. Immortal Symphony is the name of the serial, with the first season called Overture. It follows the classic literary character, Dorian Gray, through our modern times with an urban fantasy twist that allows us to depart slightly from the story we know by Oscar Wilde. The other main character, Gabriel Lawrence, is a paranormal investigator with secrets of his own, including a dead twin who helps him as a ghost… and ironically gives Gabriel reality checks as only a brother could. Sparks inevitably fly when Gabriel happens upon Dorian, but it’s Gabriel’s secrets that make him intriguing to Dorian, who thrills in the conquest and corruption of his lovers. There are few Dorian finds interesting after being alive for so long thanks to the portrait that magically sustains his youth and beauty, and Gabriel makes himself the perfect target for Dorian’s games.
Aside: Is it required that you read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde before you start reading our serial fiction? Not at all! If you’re curious, all you really need to do for a basic understanding of what happened in Oscar Wilde’s book is read the summary from SparkNotes. While simplistic, it definitely gets you the essentials. Of course, I have to be honest here and recommend that everyone read the whole book, if you have the time and inclination. The tone of it is very classic, quite philosophical with some social commentary of the times (1890s), and dry by a lot of today’s standards, I suppose… but what an extraordinary piece of fiction!
While we want to remain respectful to Oscar Wilde’s characters, we do depart from his work and have our own goals when it comes to the serial fiction. Here are a few things my co-author S.L. Armstrong and I are trying to do with this serial:
- Expand Upon Wilde’s Dorian Gray While Making Him Our Own – Oscar Wilde’s character of Dorian is fantastic. He’s the poster boy of youth and beauty and all things high society at the start of Wilde’s book, and we see how Lord Henry’s influence turns him toward hedonism and all things corrupt. Dorian is a character leading a double life back in Victorian times in The Picture of Dorian Gray. To contrast, we bring Dorian into modern day, where many of the scandals of British high society from the 1890s are now perhaps sensational, but not particularly noteworthy. In modern times, the character of Dorian has much more freedom to be completely and unapologetically debauched. Working on the assumption that Dorian has been alive all this time, however, means there are a lot of skeleton’s in Dorian’s closet. While the first episode of the first season of Immortal Symphony gives a glimpse of Dorian just as corrupted as in the height of his double life in Oscar Wilde’s work, there is a lot of depth and backstory that we’ll be exploring in the serial. You might not see it at first, but there is frightening depth to Dorian that the reader will get to experience over the course of the serial. Promise.
- Explore, Contrast, and Pay Respects to the Classic Themes – For those who aren’t familiar with The Picture of Dorian Gray, some of the themes that play out in the book are the superficial value placed on beauty and youth, the way influence can psychologically shape/twist an individual, the duplicity of leading a double life, and taking (or avoiding) responsibility for one’s actions. These themes are so tied up in the character of Dorian that it would be impossible not to explore them anew in the serial fiction S.L. and I are writing, so you’ll see our take on them as the series unfolds. In modern times, Dorian doesn’t have to live a double life, really, but the duplicity theme bends to encompass the masking that one does in real life to separate the outwardly projected image from the person’s true self that is hidden away from view. Dorian is a master manipulator, but he also knows far too well that the forces of influence work both ways. He might corrupt his lovers, but his lovers also effect him over time, even if he doesn’t like to show it.
- Show the Spectrum of Sexuality Oscar Wilde Couldn’t – Sexuality in fiction was relatively subdued in Victorian literature. Even with some of the controversial parts of The Picture of Dorian Gray edited out from its original publication in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, the book caused outrage on several ethical grounds. Today, it would be seen as so very tame! The homoerotic undertones within the book caused a huge stir back in the day, even though the relationship between Dorian Gray and the man who painted his portrait, Basil Hallward (along with other male characters like Alan Campbell), was never explicitly spelled out. S.L. and I have brought this aspect of Dorian’s character out of the proverbial closet. Dorian was depicted as a bisexual character, though the time period Oscar Wilde wrote in would never have labeled him as such. In our Immortal Symphony serial fiction, we plan to show Dorian in that bisexual light. Just because the story follows a gay relationship in modern day doesn’t negate the fact that Dorian doesn’t really discriminate when it comes to his sexual partners. He’s a character who has literally done it all, and we aren’t afraid to show that, which means there will be both M/M and M/F content out of Dorian and the whole spectrum of sexuality from various others. In Victorian London, even simple rumor of such conduct might have tarnished Dorian’s name, but in modern day, we’re happy to shamelessly show Dorian’s “anything goes” mentality.
- Tell Dorian’s Story in a New Fictional Format – As the ARC reviews of the first episode start coming out (three reviews have already been posted!), I’m nervous and excited about this new format of fiction that S.L. and I have taken on. There are many ways to write serial fiction (I wrote a blog post on that, actually), and this format is what we call the Radio Drama method, where each episode plays out a smaller portion of the plot before leaving off at a slight cliffhanger. The emphasis is on the overarching plot of the season, which means that some readers might be irritated that they don’t get a perfect “tied in a bow” ending to each episode, since the plot is ongoing and will be continued in the next episode. Like an old time radio drama or many modern television dramas, you’ll have to “tune in next week” (or month, in our case) to find out what happens next. Because of this format, you’ll get tastes of the characters in the first episode, but you won’t see the full depth of them immediately. You see what Dorian wants you to see, what he projects to Gabriel, and only the small hints of his past that he tries so desperately not to think about on his own time. Chipping away at that past takes time, so you won’t see it all immediately in the first episode, just like you don’t see every facet of a character in the pilot episode of a show like Fringe or Torchwood. I hope readers and reviewers will understand that this is a format that isn’t done often in the genre and will be able to enjoy it. *crosses fingers*
Without further ado, here is the blurb for the first episode of the first season of Immortal Symphony – Overture: A Meeting of Fate!
You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you’re wrong. The real story didn’t end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn’t ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian’s is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet… and not all of them want to stay dead.
Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he’d stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn’t come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.
Episode 1: A Meeting of Fate
Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator from America, finds himself in London chasing down a supposedly haunted artifact. While there, he meets a man who calls himself Dorian Gray, who may not match the description from that famous story, but certainly has the attitude. And the seduction. And because ghost hunting isn’t exactly a lucrative venture, Dorian’s invitation into his world of opulence, decadence, and wealth may just prove too tempting for Gabriel to resist!
The first episode is Now Available! You can try out the serial by just buying the first episode on its own for only $0.99. The other option is to purchase the season pass, which signs you up to automatically get each of the six episodes in the Overture season as they come out each month. It saves you money in the end and gives you access to exclusive extras as well as he final compiled e-book of the season. So, if you love the concept and want to read the whole season for sure, grab the season pass! I hope everyone gives the Storm Moon Press serials a try. It’s a slightly new take on serial fiction in the genre, so I hope everyone enjoys it!