My second novel in the Kate Warne Civil War Spy Series, called The Great Show, is OUT!!!! Yippeeeee!!!! The reviews from my beta readers have been super positive, which cool. This book was a joy to write. It just unrolled in front of me like a magic carpet. I hopped on and the story took off. All I had to do is hold on.
Which is pretty weird. Long ago, when I first read Stephen King’s On Writing (which you should read because its fabulous), he said that writing was an act of archaeology. The writer’s job, he claimed, was to uncover the story that was already there. He said when he’s writing he never knows what’s going to happen next, much like an archaeologist doesn’t know what bone they’re going to uncover next. I remember reading that and thinking, “Bullshit.” Stories are created. Constructed. They are a purposeful result of hard work, plotting and research.
And they are, to an extent. But they’re also found stories. My most recent example of this happened last weekend. I was working on the second volume of my Petronella series (think X-Files meets Sherlock Holmes with parasols). I had my unicorn character swim across Flathead Lake to a little island. I knew she was going to swim from the little island to the larger Wild Horse Island and I knew she was going to encounter a hippocamp (a water horse) on the small island. So I write the part where she come ashore and sees the hippocamp and I don’t know what happens next. What will the hippocamp say to the unicorn? What will they do? So I take a break, fold some laundry, talk to my husband about dinner, and think. And I still don’t know what happens next. So I sit back down with the computer and start to write. It turns out the hippocamp doesn’t talk. She’s too afraid. Instead she leads the unicorn down the beach to the rotting corpse of a giant lake dragon. Did I know there was a dead lake dragon on the beach? No, I swear I didn’t. But my fingers uncovered the story.
That kind of thing happened with The Great Show a lot. I knew there’d be a circus and I knew a lot of other stuff I can’t write about here without spoiling the book, but some of the book I discovered as I wrote. In one chapter something terrible happens to Juba (to be honest, a LOT of terrible things happen to Juba in The Great Show), but I didn’t know this thing was going to happen until I wrote it. Nor did I know a second bad guy (who’s a bad woman) would appear when I got my main characters to New Orleans. But the Countess did appear and she’s deliciously evil. And entirely unexpected.
On a semi-related note, I had one of my students draw names from my email list for the Free Book Drawing. If I drew your name you should have an email from me in your inbox now. I’ll need your mailing address to send you the book. And if you didn’t win, try again next time.
Spread the Love. Peg