I have always been restless in my work. Each book has been an experiment with a form and a genre, sometimes a sub-genre. Each has been about going a place I haven't gone yet, and seeing what I can bring back with me. Sometimes it's a little, sometimes it's a lot. Sometimes I come back empty-handed. But I always want to keep going somewhere new and reporting from that front.
Examples, off the top of my head: Flight Of The Vajra was an experiment in the Honkin' Big SF Epic mold, to see if I could pull it a little closer towards humanity in ways I felt it had drifted away from. Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned was somewhere between a crime thriller and a psychedelic techno-thriller. Unmortal hewed closest to gaslamp/steampunk. Shunga-Satori was my attempt at a psychedelic underworld odyssey along the lines of Doris Lessing's Briefing For A Descent Into Hell. And now we have Charisma, closest in spirit maybe to AONO but with a tighter focus, in big part because of its strong roots in the heist/caper genre (Rififi, Bob le flambeur, Touchez pas le grisbi, Sexy Beast, Get Carter, etc.) but also with what I've come to call "psychedelipunk" elements. And the forthcoming Pavilion 7 is somewhere between the likes of Graham Greene (The Comedians, The Quiet American) and John le Carré and (as I put it to a friend) "Blade Runner on the beach" (or On The Beach, if you prefer).
I've written before about how I don't like to repeat myself, about how life is short and I want to use what time I do have as exuberantly and diversely as possible through this craft. For a long time I passed this off to myself as being about getting easily bored. Spending twelve to eighteen months with any one book certainly made me feel like I'd sat with it as long as I could stand, and that the only constructive response was to finish it, get up, move on, and find something else to do. I had to be careful not to let that curdle over into contempt for the Jim Butchers and Hideyuki Kikuchis (or even the Georges Simenons) of the world, folks who write many works in the same world, or with the same characters, and never seem to exhaust the singular wells they throw their buckets down into. I just had to be honest with myself that I probably wasn't one of those people, and that if I didn't want to be one, I shouldn't try to strong-arm myself into becoming one. I wanted to cultivate, as plainly as I could to myself, a sign that I was not simply standing still.
The more I've peered into it, though, the more I realize this is not about getting bored and moving on. Rather, it's about realizing something very large, intimidatingly so: the understanding of how many things are truly possible in this medium, and how my own attempts to realize even whatever fraction of those things are within my reach will take me the rest of my life and then some.
Right now, as I type this, there are at least four projects I know I want to work on. (ADDENDUM: And after editing this piece for publication, a fifth one.) All are in varying stages of cohesion, but all are coherent enough to embrace as a project. And each one of those would take me at least one to two years, maybe longer. I am not "old", but I'm old enough to be conscious of how my time is limited. Then again, I've been conscious of this since I was five and nearly died in a car accident (and knew it), and have only grown more conscious of it as time went on. I don't want to use what time I have, whatever form it comes in, on things that I cannot whole-heartedly make part of that journey.