Woke up with a bit of book lodged in my head

Update 2013: Not sure if this will interest anyone other than me since it’s mostly a process post on a book I haven’t gotten the chance to write you, but I’m bringing it over so I have a copy on the site.

Storms last night, big ones. They set off the sirens and sent Laura and I to the basement at 4:00 a.m., always a pleasure, especially since it means herding cats. I was just starting to nod off after getting back to bed when I realized I had a chunk of book lodged in my brain.

Since I can’t leave story alone, I started nibbling around the edges of this one and pretty soon realized it was both quite large and, technically, on my schedule. It’s the beginning of the Halifax book that I’ve mentioned once or twice before, which isn’t supposed to show up for at least a year– possibly more since I’ve got 3 books firmly scheduled in front of it and, depending on the vagueries of contracts and such, as many 7. Update: 9 and counting.

Silly book, I don’t have the time to write you right now. Unfortunately, it’s not listening and I quite like what I’ve got so far – 1-2k words and big bit of plot, character, and setting. Maybe I can cheat and carve out a bit of extra writing time in the mornings before I’m really awake. I’d have to see if I could hold two novels in my head while writing them in parallel for a bit, but that might make a fun challenge.

Oh, and for those of you who’ve been paying attention to my process, this one’s a real oddity. I don’t have strong ideas about the contours of the world at the moment. I’m not even sure about the edges of the magic system beyond the way they affect the protagonist personal situation. I’ll have to see how that goes. Since I’ve caught this one forming, I’ll try to add bits of the how of it as I go.

A bit more on the Halifax book

 I’ve known ever since I wandered around the Citadel that I was going to write something set in Halifax with the old fortress as a major component. What I hadn’t planned was doing anything about for the next two years or so. Books take time, and I’m currently all booked up. Also, I find that I need to let ideas marinate in the back of my head for a while before I get something really useful. This has taken as long as ten years and rarely takes less than one. So, not only was I not planning on working or even thinking about this, I honestly didn’t think my back brain would spit anything out at least until next summer. I was wrong. I even know why I was wrong. Two reasons:

First, The Halifax environment was so rich that in its marination phase bits of it dribbled down onto other brain structures that had already been bubbling away for years.

Second, I just finished Zelazney’s A Night in the Lonesome October. This is one of those books that I’ve had kicking around the house on and off for more than a decade. I’ve even gotten rid of it on at least two occasions, but it keeps coming back–I think I’ve been given three copies over the years and bought two. I’ve picked it up, read four pages, and put it down quite a number of times. Three nights ago it had come out on top of the bookdrift on my bedside table once again, and I decided to try it one last time before getting rid of yet another copy. This time it was fabulous, fast, fun, dark, and most importantly, educational. I learned something new from this read something about both plot and character. Really, about a specific kind of plot and a specific type of character: The Big Magical Event, and the World Weary Cynic. They’re F&SF staples and I’ve used variations of them over the years, but I suddenly had new insights into how they work at a deep structural level.

Cool! Something that I would find a use for in years to come–after it had marinated a bit. Except, my subconscious took the shiny new toy and dropped it into the same bucket where the Halifax stuff was soaking and there was something of catalyst reaction that reached through all the other layers Halifax had already touched on and then somehow cross-connected itself with some things I’d been thinking about the WebMage series and what to do after book five (assuming that ACE is interested in five) that would extend the brand I’ve been developing with them while still giving me something new and exciting. Et voila, the Halifax book leaped from my forehead nearly fully formed.

I don’t know if all of that makes any sense to anyone else, but that’s what happened. I was mugged by a book that hasn’t even been written yet.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog in two part on August 28 and August 29 2007, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)