"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Doing things the hard way

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted! My apologies. September was a crazy whirlwind of travel, then October was spent recovering from all the travel, and finishing the manuscript.

What? You finished the manuscript?

Yes. On the one hand, it came in a little shorter than I thought, at about 111,000 words. I was thinking it would be more like 120k. On the other hand, it told the story I wanted to tell...sort of. 

Here's the thing: I started out writing one book, and ended up writing something completely different.

When I first decided on writing a story about a girl pirate, I planned for a quick, easy tale. Take one of my favorite books, The Count of Monte Cristo, and change it to a young noblewoman who is betrayed by her friends. She comes back, years later, and gets her revenge.

The devil's in the details, folks.

There had to be a reason for these people to betray her. Ah, political intrigue. Taking place around the 16th-or-so century, they probably wouldn't put a woman in a prison. Selling her into slavery would be more likely. Why would anyone buy her? A noblewoman who is a virgin might be worth it to a sadistic man.

Suddenly, I am examining our views on women's virginity. I mean, why is that some kind of sacred gift, to be shared with only one man, blah-blah-blah? It's another first in our lives, like the first time we walk, our first words, etc. Why is sex a taboo physical pleasure, but eating a good meal is not? It was a lot for me to think about, let alone get into my "easy" story of Lisette the girl pirate.

And then the dragons came.

If you're going to write fantasy, you might as well write FANTASY--big, fat, over-the-top fantasy. I wanted a dragon. My buddy, Jeff Michaels, cautioned me about having a dragon just because I could, so I considered what a dragon might represent in my story. The idea came immediately.

My dragons are the physical manifestation of the desire for revenge.

Revenge is a strange thing. One of my characters describes it as a "beast that cannot be sated." When you are wronged by someone, you want that person to feel as much pain as you feel, but it somehow doesn't erase your hurt. I mean, if someone killed your loved one, how many times could you kill them back until your pain is gone? 

So I have a virgin and a dragon and pirates and it's all humming along, until I get to the part toward the end, where I've got two choices. I could wrap it all up, have a nice stand-alone book, one-and-done. Or, I could take Path B, which seems the most organic, the most logical path, but which begs for more story. If I take Path B, I can see a trilogy.

I've got the 5th Peri book to write, I recently thought of a sequel to Murder on the Hoof, I'm still writing my column, and now I've assigned myself two more 100K+ books to write? What is wrong with me?

I do learn the hard way every time.


Unknown said...

When you're a writer, there are always more stories to tell. I, for one, love everything you write. Keep 'em coming, girlfriend!

Unknown said...

Writers write. Clearly you do not suffer from writer's block! Hooray for you! The COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO is one of my favorite books. Yet another reason to read your pirate tale! I'm looking forward to it!

Proud Member of ALA!

I support fair and equitable library access to ebooks and so should you.