(TWIP: This Week In Progress)
Forty-nine weeks ago (according to Instagram, because my moleskine from that time period is about a hundred miles away at my house), I had just plunked down in Nottingham, England. Since then, it seems I’ve been in a state of tumult. Not bad tumult, but tumult nonetheless; like I'm being hurtled through a bunch of fascinating things and I can't quite focus on a single one.
In Nottingham, I was overloaded with adventure and culture saturation. I climbed towards ancient Scottish priories in the rain, dyed my hair purple, and succumbed to drinking tea when, for literally months prior, you’d catch me making leaf-water/Boston Tea Party/Revolutionary War jokes. Then I returned home and got slammed with junior year work, acclimating back to more stoic professors and the intense American school system. Summer appeared in a blazing rush and I got hired at a wonderful, semi-elite bookstore while also working as a paid (!) research assistant. And now here I sit on a carmine-colored couch in a very white apartment usually filled with some really great girls. My eyes ache (I had to switch out my contacts after Ancient Greek Civilizations), I’m itchy with sweat because my apartment exists on the third floor, and I’ve drunk alcohol on two different occasions already.
It’s only Wednesday.
Yesterday, I was headed to the library to get some Spanish packets highlighted while thinking, "I can grab Costa after this. I can't wait. I love Costa coffee!" Only, Costa exists at Nottingham, not here at my college, and Nottingham is some 3,000+ miles away. I paused for a minute, just a little confused as to where I was.
It probably didn't help that my bookstore job wasn't too taxing on my brain and now I'm operating at maximum usage.
What I’m trying to say is, a lot can change in a year. And my life only seems to be going faster. So I just needed to write it all down somewhere. Expulse my thoughts between trying to not lose my temper at John Locke’s long-windedness and planning my senior thesis and
accepting another research assistant job. Gotta pad that résumé.
Also, I just drank a mug of coffee, finished it, and an oddly Gollum-like thought of MORE slunk through my mind. This is gonna be quite the semester.
A new story idea scratched at the inside of my skull a few hours ago and I’m trying really hard not to scare it away. I bought plane tickets for New York City this coming January to visit my friends just as I promised freshman year; I’m applying for graduate schools next year (London and Edinburgh are looking especially dashing).
On the very plus side, Nicholas is being released this winter (you can read the first chapter here) and possibly even my first published novel, Shubiao’s Girls. Nicholas started off, as my other novella, The Christmas Lights, did, as a Christmas present for my mom. I feel no shame whatsoever of buying into the cliché of a charming London thief. I feel like everyone should write about London thieves at least once. Or any thief, actually.
Nicholas was adapted from a loose plot of a book I wanted to write called Jamie’s Mercy (still really proud of that title). Jamie was a teenage pirate with a one-man sailing ship and a penchant for wandering rooftops. Mercy was a headstrong bishop’s daughter who discovered a treasure map on a document in her father’s church, which brought her to the attention of loads of loathsome ruffians. However, for whatever reason I couldn’t create more than that (and even now it raises questions such as, ‘Aren’t bishops celibate? Should she be a nun or novice-nun, then?’)
And so, I nipped up Jamie and switched his name, dropping him in Westminster, London, into the vague eighteenth century, and let him loose. He quickly stole stories from the top of a palace tower and discovered the very strong Crown Princess—the teller of the stories—was soon to fall into a plot almost as dark as her tales. Nicholas is much more “fairy-tale” than my other books: hence the princess, and a villain who is only referred to as “the duke.” I didn’t feel the need to let the read in on his name. He was too despicable; too hateful of his title—for why would a king’s twin brother be merely referred to as a duke? Some love lost there, I assume.
I’m eagerly awaiting cover art and the Final Galley for Nicholas and cannot wait for people to learn about him and HRH Alexandrina.
I’m just realizing now that this is a bit long, and think I’ll gush about Shubiao’s Girls a bit later, perhaps in a week or two.
Hope everyone's weeks are manageable!
Hello, hello! Happy morning, noon, evening, whatever time it is. By the time I check back on this article, I'll be moved into my new college apartment for senior year, ready to budget my money once more and face a last round of classes while also enjoying my little college town and applying for grad school in another country. So the title of this post is oddly apt.
"I suppose I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people, really." -- Tennessee Williams
To make our stories interesting our characters often have some kind of psychological, spiritual or physical wounds. The process of healing them because the character’s arc, the meat in our stories. What mental, physical or spiritual wounds or scars have you used in your stories?
That is a darn good question...which is probably going to make me seem like a horrible person. Basically, it's really difficult to write a story without these alleged "wounds" because if a character is perfectly content in their life then it's terribly hard to get them to go on a quest to destroy the One Ring to Rule them All, or fight a really horrifying wizard guy, or what have you.
And, as it happens, I have examples for Mental, Physical, and Spiritual wounds or scars for my books (I'm going to end up apologizing to my characters, aren't I?)
First off, Mental wounds: the first character I think off right off the bat is Celeste, the wunderkind of the only trilogy I've written so far (and it took about five/sixish thrilling years of angst, excitement, woe, tears, and self-doubt). Celeste stars as one half of the main character partnership in Serpents and Flame: the daughter of Euryale the Wanderer and a sailor, she is half-Gorgon (how well do you know your Greek mythology? Think Medusa.) with snakes for hair, brass fingernails, scales, and small tusks. On top of that, her mother and aunt kept her on a remote island and didn't exactly endow her with a great worldview. I really think she's the most pessimistic character I've ever written--she has good reason, but it was a real switch-up for me to have to keep viewing things from her eyes because, on her opposite, I introduced Leandro Alexiou, who was dealt (mostly)--
Physical wounds: --which does not sound nice. I'm sorry (!). Andro has a fair share of mental pricks as well, including his mother's death and the whole little debacle with his sister's ensuing depression/madness drawing the god of madness to her. These culminate into physical wounds when Andro acts on an instinct and ends up with a gathering of pretty awful scars. These, in addition to how surrounding characters react to to them, fuel Andro to proceed on the path he chooses in the book. The scars are actually kind of a really important thing, and I can't give all the secrets away here. ;)
Physical wounds also play back into mental: in Monet Evanesce (an art forger/heist story due to be published next year), the protagonist Apollo Roszak only does what he does because of a HUGE injustice done to his great-great-grandfather, Jos. It's all mental (it happened, what, over a good century ago), but it was pretty awful, especially since repercussions waver all the way to present-day.
Lastly, let's talk Spiritual wounds: which I have a fantastic example of, because I just edited a novel that deals with this! Shubiao's Girls is finally getting published (*Viking scream*) and it's only just done it's first round of edits, but I'm excruciatingly pleased. Cara, the MC, always wakes up feeling as though she hasn't slept (I actually started this idea after waking up super groggy one morning near Halloween-time). This is because Shubiao, a mouse spirit, has been stealing her breath almost every night in order to take human form. Why? Because of a curse put on her family by a twentieth-century silk merchant, of course. Cue the assistance of Cara's semi-religious best friend Hosey, with whom Cara delves into world mythologies when Shubiao makes a deal with a biblical demon, wherein a Fallen angel joins the mix and everyone's literal/tangible soul is at stake.
Are you a writer? What kind of, uh, wounds do your characters sport, and why? If you're just here for a read-along, click a few (or all. All.) links below and see what these other authors inflict on their poor wee characters:
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Bob Rich https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/the-wounded-healer
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com