One of the great joys of living with a novel* or some other story project over a long time are the characters. These simulacrums of people and other entities that fill out and become not just longings or arcs of story but satisfying mysteries. When they grow enough that they actually surprise you, but in a way that feels right – which is where fiction differs from reality, I mean I don’t make up my friends (though I guess in a way our brain does, cause I mean, you can never KNOW anyone really).
I manufacture the characters and situations, but there’s still that magical place where connections happen, and all that making gets nicely out of hand and you’re suddenly laughing at something this person who came out of your head has said on the page or done. And the world itself, which is in essence character as well, will shift and assume something unexpected, or throw a place name at you that just works.
This is happening with my current novel. I’m reading through it one more time before I pass it on to beta readers, knowing it’s not perfect, but it’s as far as I can take it on my own, and, even now, my characters are surprising me in the margins.
Half the time I don’t know why I do things, and it’s a fine trick to see your characters do that too, watching them dive into their own self-justifications and delusions.
I tend to write from a very close first-person point of view, and the new* novel is mostly that, and giving secondary characters depth and continuity can be a challenge, but I’ve lived with these creatures long enough that they feel like they’re doing that. A single surprising moment from one of them today had me laughing for a couple of minutes (which is either a good sign or a terrible one).
I love the challenge of writing a big fantasy world from the narrow focus of one character. I feel like the last two books have gotten me ready for it, that I’ve learnt from what I feel are the successes and failures of Day Boy and Stone Road. I guess only time will tell.
Edits and illustrations are going apace with the Brent and Trent Next Big Book Project.
I’ve seen some amazing art from Brent (it makes my day every time I get a text or an email with some art) and I am always humbled by his generosity in sharing his process. Story telling illustratively is utterly fascinating, and Brent just has a way of making words sing on the page no matter how silly they are. We've made a great world, I think and there's so much more to explore.
I’m so excited for these books, and looking forward to sharing various details and bits and pieces as we get closer to publication.
*If only they would clean up after themselves, though. This house is a mess, and don't get me started on my desk.
**new as in roughly five years old. I am SO SLOW!