I had such plans. A new CBK picture. A nifty blog post…
But you know the writing life. Stuff happens! One thing is that today (Saturday) is my RWA chapter’s Valentine’s Day Brunch, when we congratulate each other on our achievements and encourage each other as we head into the future, and I ended up with a few things to do with that.
One is a gambling game that I’ve morphed into a “writing life” game. Can’t really get into the details here, but unlike writing, no skill is involved. Very like publishing, a whole lot of the game is luck and chance. Good things happen — let’s say the book gets talked about by the TV personality of the moment. Bad things happen, like lines closing, editors leaving, and train wrecks destroying the whole print run. (Yes, that actually happened one. I know one of Suzanne Brockman’s books ceased to exist that way.) Is it surprising that we writers are a bit wacky? Truly, you have to be crazy to work here.
And making up realities and writing them down is pretty crazy, too. So I thought I’d say a bit about the process of coming up with the book I’m writing now, which is currently only about 10,000 words old. (The France/nun one I mentioned last week in relation to research.)
Books come to me in many different ways, but this was a bit of a gift book — that is, the idea and opening scene just flashed into my mind. Who knows where these things come from? I call it a gift from the muse. Like most gifts of the muse, however, “some assembly is required.” Okay, it comes in a scattering of strange bits and pieces with no instructions at all. Not even diagrams.
What I got was a young, gorgeous, laid-back Regency libertine — which pretty well means “free spirited, doesn’t it? — who encounters a plain and sober lady who is desperate to get from point A to point B. They have a charming — okay, brilliant — conversation, full of wit and sexy innuendo. Unfortunately my imagination does not have a record button, so that conversation is gone forever.
She’s a governess, perhaps, fed up with her employer. Or on the run. Or an heiress trying to escape a tyrannical guardian. I let this concept roll around in my head for a while and kept bumping against a wall of some sort. Bear in mind that I was actually finishing Lady Beware at the time. I sent off LB, tried to get something of this new story down and couldn’t. Hmmm. What’s the problem here?
I worked on her backstory, but it was becoming incredibly complicated, with bizarre wills and eccentric do-gooder guardians. And whenever I tried to imagine these two off on a road trip that goes from bad to worse, it wouldn’t come alive.
Then I realized that the problem is. It’s not Regency, it’s Georgian. The reasonably safe and well-regulated Regency world won’t work for the sort of wild ride I envision these two having. It’s going to be at least partly a road book, and Regency roads were too well-maintained, too fast, and too busy. Anyway, Georgian rakes are just much more yummy.
So I tried again, but it was still sulking. I needed to know where they were and where she needed to go. North is good. Wilder in the north. Nope, thatâs not it. West to east is good. Going over the Pennines is always tricky. Nope, not that either. So I wandered into the kitchen for more coffee, said to my husband, “I need to know where these people ARE.” He was heading to his office with his coffee, and simply said, “France.”
I asked him later why he’d said that, and he had no idea. But of course, they’re in France! Even rougher roads, and a despotic system that makes mayhem and tangling with the law much more hazardous.
And then the heroine turned into a nun.
And that’s where they are now, somewhere about 10 miles out of Abbeville, heading for Boulogne. Though, of course, everything is still subject to change.
If you’re a reader, does it surprise you that books can come to life in such peculiar ways? Even if you don’t write, do you get imaginary people acting out movies in your head? Does the idea scare you?
If you’re a writer, does this sort of thing happen to you? Do you shoot such chaos on sight or do you enjoy it?
Oh, and by the way. Dragon Lovers will be out in only a few weeks and we four authors have an offer for you. We’ve created a reminder list. This means that you’ll get one, and only one message to tell you when the book is out — so you can rush out and buy, of course. As an incentive, on the 20th February, we’ll draw one name from the list to win a lovely silver and silk dragon pendant. Here it is.
Then sign up on our web site.
But come back here and talk about the insanity of creation.