I was solicited by an editor of a forthcoming fiction anthology and wound up writing a story using Myra, the jaded artist from To Another Abyss. It was a fun writing experience, I enjoyed giving her more voice and agency than she got to have in the (intentionally limited to a rather dim guy’s POV) book, but… well, you’re lacking a major tool in the authorial shed if you don’t dwell on things that are tangentially-related to your activities and interests.
The next Jay and Silent Bob movie was being filmed in the area where I work for a couple days over the summer.* What little nostalgic affection I have for Kevin Smith fades further any time he does something newsworthy, or whenever I remember something else from Clerks that doesn’t hold up, but I’ve always found it a little sad how he seemed like he was actually trying to go and do different things for a little while, wasn’t that successful, and ran screaming back to the same characters and tired freshman-profundity-with-fart-jokes shtick.
I know two tie-in short stories isn’t enough to make someone an unimaginative hack, but it has to make you consider where the line gets drawn.
And I say that as a diehard fan of some ongoing series — I’d sell plasma to pre-order a new book in Steph Swainston’s Fourland series or Hal Duncan’s scruffian chapbooks if I had to. But I don’t think either of them are developmentally-stunted for using the same characters across multiple works. They’re both more stylish than the Clerks expanded universe, populated with more dynamic characters than [insert recent Marvel property]. So it’s not simply the re-use of familiar characters that makes work hacky. Maybe it’s the failure to do anything substantially different from the last time we saw them.
I dunno. I’m not planning to do a bunch of To Another Abyss sequels that are just retreads of the first book with maybe some shmaltzy phoned-in father issues like Guardians of the Galaxy 2. But I’m not averse to dusting off old characters if I think there’s actually somewhere new that it’d be natural for them to go. Everybody who was enough of a character to warrant an arc has had it wrapped up by now, except for Ian because I’m never going to stop dragging movie people. In conclusion, read some of my old stuff until the new stuff gets here.
*He also tried getting a bunch of local artists to work FOR EXPOSURE as if that phrase hasn’t been totally exposed for what it is in twenty frickin’ nineteen.