So. I suppose you could say it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Hrm. This is awkward. Best to do what I always do and pretend it didn’t happen! *sweeps it under the carpet*
Now then, that’s better. What are we doing here again? Oh, right. You see, I got tagged by Liz, who got tagged by Nancy, who got tagged by… well, don’t fall down the same internet wormhole I did. (Actually, do go play internet tag through all the posts. All the works in progress mentioned seem fantastic. But read about this one before you forget, even though the long absence means I’m guaranteed to ramble!)
We’ve all been talking about our writing processes, and while it always seems to me that my writing process is best described as contained madness–when the book is going well–it occurs to me that there is some kind of pattern. Have I made you curious yet? Well, ready or not, allons-y!
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
It’s been rare for me to put aside my IMPARTIALS & IMMORTALS series since I started working on it during my first try at NaNoWriMo in 2009. In my defense, at that time I was a naive young writer who thought she was writing a standalone novel. It has since come to my attention that my fascination with Celtic mythology is too great to be confined to a single book. (This is the part where you act surprised, the way you do at a surprise party that you knew about a week in advance.) The point of this ramble is to say that recently, I started feeling what every writer dreads: every word I wrote was like pulling teeth, the dynamic characters I know and love felt dull and lifeless, and I was utterly convinced that what I was writing was absolute, 100%, grade A crap. I’ve been lucky enough to feel this infrequently, so for a while, I tried to press on, even though scenes I’d been anticipating for months were sucking the will to write out of me. Finally, I gave up and started eyeing the other project rattling around in my brain, which is something completely different: first person present tense narration compared to third person limited, a smaller cast of characters to wrangle with, oh, and did I mention dead people?
H(A)UNTED is, in case you haven’t figured it out yet–I’m sure you have, I have smart readers–a horror novel. At its heart, it’s a ghost story, as Darcy, my MC, has, like the other women in her family, seen ghosts all her life. Unlike the other women in her family, though, Darcy makes her living by writing accounts of the ghosts she meets, and publishing them. She moves to a small Ontario town with another assignment in mind–a woman who is said to haunt the footbridge she was last seen on before disappearing in 1914. Once there, though, she unwittingly gets involved with the descendants of the two families involved in that disappearance, and discovers a ghost nobody warned her about–who happens to live with her. “Complicated” is an understatement.
Oh, by the way: If the title seems odd to you, remove the A and see what word you get. I couldn’t choose a title, so this was my solution. 😉
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN MY GENRE?
A lot of horror lately, I find, starts up immediately, but that hasn’t been the case with H(A)UNTED. I’ve tried, and it just felt wrong. Darcy is the one leading the novel, as she’s the narrator, and she’s telling the story as it happens. It’s determined to be a slow-building, mindfuck of a horror novel, deceiving readers into thinking there’s going to be a happy ending. (Spoiler alert: There isn’t. This I have known from the outset.) Readers looking for a fast, scary thrill ride are going to be disappointed, skimming ahead to see where the “action” is. I have no trouble admitting that I’m a horrible person, so the fact is that I have every intention of letting y’all think the ghosts in this story stand a chance at redemption. Enjoy Darcy’s relationships with Gage and Noah, the two spectacularly differing male leads in the novel, and have fun trying to work out the knots that have been tied in the century between one woman disappearing, and another woman arriving in town. I’m going to do my best to trip you up in them.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
… I dunno, it seemed like a good idea at the time?
In all seriousness, I don’t think I ever had a choice. My mother tells me that even as a kid I was making up stories; the only difference as I’ve aged, I think, is that I have a wider array of experience to draw from and a broader vocabulary to apply. (Having seen my early work, let me tell you, this is a Very Good Thing). I’ve always had stories and characters rattling around in the back of my head. I suppose one day they finally overflowed, and I haven’t been able to get the lid back on yet. The rush that comes with bringing a new story into the world, the giddiness of a germinating idea, the fun of getting to know a character you’re going to work with… those are all just perks. Really big perks. *nods* (Don’t tell the rest of the world, or they’ll all start doing it, too.)
Honestly? I just want to tell people stories that change their lives the way stories have changed mine. Whether the effect is a rainy afternoon’s peace curled up in the windowseat away from life’s problems, or a lesson the reader takes away and carries with them all their life, I hope that something I write changes a person in some way, big or small. Even if I’ve only made you smile the tiniest bit, even if you frowned, I’ve done what I intended.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
Oh, don’t make it sound like work, you’ll take all the fun out of it! *sigh* All right, all right…
Whether inspired by music, someone else’s writings, or sheer boredom, I get an idea. Usually, I let the plot bunny rattle around a bit, to make sure that it intends to stick and won’t flee as soon as it sees a shinier patch of writer brain to latch onto. Eventually the characters start to mutter amongst themselves, and my earlier characters snicker their approval, and that’s when I start to worry. Once I’ve got an opening scene in my brain and a clear sense of the characters–the latter usually accomplished with the help of various questionnaires and other procrastinatory methods–I cheerily abandon all hope and dive in headfirst.
I wrote a few chapters of H(A)UNTED a while back; the idea’s been around since 2012, but not really worked on in detail. Since I’ve started really working on it, I’ve been at it for about four-five months, which isn’t bad considering that I currently work 55 hours a week. Once I’ve finished it and ignored it for a while, I’ll polish it up until I can see my reflection in it, then send it to beta readers who will be less emotional in their shredding of it, to cover grammatical flaws as well as any historical flaws I may have made, since the history of World War One, the time period I’m dealing with for the ghosts, is shadowy at best. After it’s been shredded and put back together multiple times and deemed the best it can be, I’ll worry about publishing.
And that’s that! I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. I mean that–I really do hope you enjoyed it, because when I start the April A to Z Challenge in a couple weeks, I’m going to be using H(A)UNTED as the theme for my posts! (You may remember me doing this challenge before. I’ve done it twice, once on this blog, and once on my personal blog.) If you are interested, and I hope you are, stick around for that. Until then, join me in tagging three more writers. 😀
Ellie Story is the writer of my favourite story blog ever, Marlowe in Blue, and since she moved to a small Michigan town in the middle of winter, she’s my kind of crazy. Be warned: Her characters will probably make you laugh and cry simultaneously at some point, which will result in an undignified snorking noise from you, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. She’s also one of the people I can rely on for Twitter shenanigans.
Josee Cadieux is my roommate and a writer of fantasy things that make me tilt my head and ask “What the hell was that about?” every now and then. I’m only living with her for a few more weeks before we both move in separate directions, so I have to pester the daylights out of her while I can, and this is a great way to do it! (Oh, and sometimes I force her to tweet.)
Jess M, my favourite mixed up painter (see what I did there?), is another member of the Twitter shenanigans brigade (there are a lot of us), is fantastically snarky and has characters who make me giggle. A lot.
Come on, folks, show me what you’ve got!