Yes, that's right, PLURAL. I've written 100,000+ words on new How to Succeed in Evil.
The new books are each about 30,000 words, give or take. And I have nine of them outlined. The story takes place before any of the books I've written. The novellas are episodic -- like a series of television -- and are the stories of Edwin Windsor as an Efficiency Consultant before he decides to become a villain himself. Each novella features a closed story with a unique client and an ongoing story that resolves at the end of the nine.
For this 'season' Edwin's primary antagonist is The Lynx, a pastiche of Batman, a trust fund dilettante who becomes a hero because he is wracked by the guilt of his own privilege.
Along the way, Edwin, Topper, and Agnes will consult for a cast of characters that include The Boggus, UnstoppaBull, Branitiar, The Voodoo Priest, The Wild Card and The Carolignian -- a devoutly religious man who gains superpowers by rubbing a Holy Relic that he believes is the foreskin of Charlemagne. It's madcap, out of control and you'll also get to see some of the arc of how Topper became Topper.
As for timing, I'm shooting for an August 1 launch. I want to write another novella between now and then (which would give me four in the can.) Then it's recording audiobooks, making ebooks, you know, basically everything.
But to hold you over between now and then, I'll be providing more previews, audio samples, and other fun stuff. And if you are subscribed to this newsletter, you’ll get all of it for free as podcast episodes.
The Move to Substack
I've also moved this list from Mailchimp (which I kind of hate for author purposes) to Substack (which I’m very excited about.) Not only will collect all of these emails in a blog format, but it has a good commenting system, some paid subscriber features that I may take advantage of, and -- perhaps best of all -- really good podcasting support.
So here’s an excerpt from The Boggus, the first book of the new How to Succeed in Evil.
EXCERPT: THE ORIGIN OF THE LYNX
After Jackson Warner’s funeral had been concluded, and the last of the mourners had left, Cuthbert had found Bryce in what had been his father’s study. And the young man was standing in the middle of the room watching one of the new televisions.
Cuthbert had asked, “Master Bryce? Are you all right?”
“No Cuthbert, I am not. I am a man freighted with density…”
Cuthbert found the phrase apt enough, so he left it alone, taking full advantage of the custom that a servant should never respond unless asked a direct question.
“a… density of purpose, I meant.”
“Yes sir. Mr. Vulp wanted…” said Cuthbert. Louis Vulp had taken over as head of Warner Industries when Jackson Warner’s health had failed. Bryce Warner had just become the majority shareholder. During the funeral, Cuthbert had overheard the concerns about young Master Warner. What havoc would he wreak with so much power over the company that was his inheritence?
Bryce said, “I know what Vulp wanted. The patriarchy always wants the same thing.”
“Which patriarchy, sir?”
“THE patriarchy. The evil old white men of the world, Cuthbert, who’s only desire is to destroy and oppress.”
“Yes… sir,” said Cuthbert, appreciating, not for the first time, how all-purpose the phrase was.
“So you see what we must do?”
“Yes, sir. And by yes, I mean, no, I do not.”
“Don’t get cheeky with me, Cuthbert.”
“I want to sympathize, sir, I do. I feel that I have been oppressed by old white men my entire service, Master Bryce.”
Bryce Warner did not catch the joke. And with surprising intensity, he said, “That’s all about to change.”
“I am to be oppressed by a young white man, sir? Very well, at least I shant want for variety.”
“Cuthbert, I am being serious!”
Cuthbert said nothing, and they both stared at the television screen where a family of snow hares, struggled to scrape out a few bites of grass amongst the harsh and unforgiving tundra. Cuthbert hated the way a flickering television screen could capture his attention. It was weakness of will, plain and simple. Cuthbert wrestled his mind away from the nature documentary and said, “You are distraught, sir. It is understandable, the loss of your father.”
“I am not!”
“If I may confess, Master Bryce, I too was once an angry young man, perhaps not with station such as you enjoy, but I remember the passing of my own father. He was Butler at Tarkington house.”
“You never told me you had a father!”
“I’m sorry, sir. I would have thought that went without saying.”
“What I meant was, you grew up with a father.”
“Yes, sir. I take your point. My father took a long time to die, liver cancer, you see. So take consolation in the fact that your father, at least, did not suffer long.”
“Better if he had,” said Bryce.
“You cannot mean that, sir?”
“His exploitation of his privilege and power has given me my position, and your salary Cuthbert. We may not be guilty, but we are certainly responsible.”
“Responsible for what, sir?”
“Cuthbert, the guilt I have. Oh the guilt. And to think I knew nothing about it until I went to school. That I could have gone my whole life and not realized what a monster I was. The oppression that has given me my place and my privilege – I must do something about it.”
“You will give up your fortune then, sir?”
“No Cuthbert, not that. Something important. Something that will make a difference in the lives in the poor and unfortunate of our city.”
“Nothing so quite makes a difference of the lives of the poor like money, sir.”
“Oh, simple Cuthbert, you can not undo centuries of oppression and colonialism with a few handfuls of sweaty bills. I must become a… a… device, a standard, a symbol. Yes, something MORE than a man. I must become a symbol that will strike fear into the hearts of oppressors everywhere.”
“Yes… sir,” said Cuthbert.
On the television screen, a wild cat pounced on one of the rabbits and tore into the poor creature’s stomach while it was still alive. As it hungrily gulped down hot intestines, Bryce said, “Yes, the Patriarchy shall know fear. I shall slink through the darkness, I shall stalk them where they live. They are, behind all their unearned privilege, a cowardly and superstitious lot. I shall become The Lynx!”
“A pussy-cat, sir? Is that truly terrifying?”
“Question me again Cuthbert and I will scratch your eyes out.”
“Point taken, sir.”