Tonight’s blog post is more like a diary entry of a day that went well. If you’re interested in my work in progress and don’t mind me talking to myself a little bit, then read on.
Quick shout-out to another creative first: I’m really enjoying this new album from Steven Wilson. I’ve never been a fan of his before, and never got into Porcupine Tree, but I heard his latest album in a shop in Berlin a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been listening to it on Spotify so much that this morning I went out and bought a CD copy, on the condition that if I let myself do that, I’d sit and write to it for the rest of the afternoon. It’s a great record, the best new release I’ve heard this year.
I kept my promise to myself. I’ve written around 4000 words today, and spent three hours tinkering with words already written, and generally sorting through the ultra-heavy trial and error that is Deception Crossing – Book 3 of The Talent Show.
I’m also in love with the sound clip that starts SW’s new album. Someone saying ‘Once we’ve made sense of our world, we wanna go fuck up everybody else’s, because his or her truth doesn’t match mine, but this is the problem: truth is individual calculations, which means because we all have different perspectives, there isn’t just one single truth, is there?’
Different perspectives has been Deception Crossing’s biggest problem. Or perhaps more accurately, trying to move on from the ending of Ghost of the Navigator has led me to looking at so many different characters with so many different options about how they’re going to take on the world, and each other, that it’s taken a lot of trial and error to know which set of options tell the most exciting story, both to me and the reader. I knew it was the right decision to break from Shadow’s 1st person narrative and go some places he can’t see through a 3rd person story this time, but shit, taking the limiter off really made me go speeding down that highway faster than my own brain could catch me.
To such an extent that last year, I took time out and wrote the two Carnathia’s Underground books, Fighter’s Mark and Fighter’s Defiance, because they were simpler stories, I already had the right ideas in my head, and it was a side project I really wanted to finish.
Then I pantsed my way through those two as well, and got to an ending I really never expected. They are set in one of the lands on the planet Carnathia, from the Talent Show books. On my final draft, I looked at what I had and realised there was a really good way of linking the two series.
My best decision with Deception Crossing was to bring Screft and Oscar from the CU books into the plot and join them up with my other cast. Okay, that’s a bit of a spoiler, they both survive the CU books, but it’s really not much of a spoiler when I think about it, because the circumstances of their survival are totally unpredictable, not what I expected, and probably not what any reader would expect either. I challenge you: read those books and try to guess my ending, and guess what both my characters are like by the end of it.
These guys weren’t done yet. And thanks to the links I’d come up with, I thought they could really rock the Talent Show world, once they get in on the scene.
(My editor Emily, thanks to her fantastic attention to detail, even spotted one reference to a CU character I’d already slipped in to GotN in case I ever decided to connect the two storylines. And made me correct something contradictory in the process. Isn’t that what a good editor is all about!)
Anyway, it was a good decision that has led to so many words re-written I’ve now lost count. Getting Screft right in this book has been real trouble. Especially his dynamic with Dakota Silverwood, who’s shaping up to be DC’s real hero, albeit with some typically arrogant behaviour and continuous curveballs thrown in. Throw two guys like this together, and give them an almost impossible task to do, and are they going to be allies or continually rub each other up the wrong way?
I’ve now written a version of this book with both approaches, and settled on a hybrid of both, which has a little more empathy than I’d planned for, but not too much. Reading character arguments is almost always more fun than best buddies, after all. Both of these guys are powerful. Both have demons. Both are daring. Both of them are also in love. Magnets always repel each other when the polarity is the same, right?
There’s some serious House of Cards kind of negotiating in this book. There’s also some pretty bloody violence when people get up and move instead of talking, and some pretty dark implications about what human beings would do if telepathic powers, nanonics, and re-life were real, every day things.
After today’s five hour session at the keyboard, I’m saying ‘This is still a bit of a jumble but I’m starting to see my way to a book that could totally rock, and be my finest accomplishment so far as a writer.’
Another couple of months of this and I’ll hopefully be ready to order the cover and book my editor.