*[Somehow I completely forgot to write an introduction for this post? Oh well, let’s get into it! Today’s we’re looking at Part 2 of Christine’s Know the Novel Tag for my 2020 NaNoWriMo novel, currently working titled The Darkest Night]*
1. How’s the writing going overall?
Overall, the writing of this book was pretty smooth going. I was very busy during the three months I wrote it, so I didn’t get it finished as quickly as I would have liked, but I can’t complain. I wrote it and I’m proud of it.
And there’s obviously been a few road bumps and pot holes (and plot holes as well), and there’s so much that needs to be fixed up in the next draft, but I’m really happy with it!
2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?
How can I even choose? So much of this book was fun to write. I think though the monsters were my favourite thing. As I mentioned in my last post, there’s kelpies, green fae dogs (which really need a bigger part in the story!), ghouls, a fae queen, werewolves (obviously)…it’s all so much fun!
3. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?
I love them all, but Ilio definitely, with Skaati a close second. I just love being in Ilio’s head and thinking through his reactions to everything and his thought and all that. But I do love Skaati too and every scene with her in it is better for it.
4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?
It surprised me by being so easy to write! I pantsed it, something I have not done for years (I’m a dedicated plotter y’all) and I was expecting to run out of steam a few thousand words in. But I didn’t! I sailed through the whole book in pretty much exactly three months (I started 2 October and finished 30 December)!
5. Have you come across any problem areas?
There’s a few problem areas. For one, since I was pantsing, I kept introducing plot threads and then forgetting about them. Rereading it now, there’s so many things I kept hinting at and then then did nothing with. This is something I’ll definitely have to fix up in the next draft.
6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?
Continuing it and not abandoning it! Most of my projects recently I haven’t been able to finish for various reasons. With this one, it just flowed so easily and it was honestly very easy to get it finished, which was such as a nice change from the last novel I tried to write (Southern Cross) which was just struggle after struggle.
7. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?
I would probably be Ilio. The main characters of my novels are always the ones I relate to the most. Would I have taken any different actions? I’m not sure. I honestly think Ilio is a little bit braver than me, I probably would have been a lot more cowardly in his place.
8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!
The first sentence:
He had smelt the evil before…mostly in his dreams.
A snippet from Ilio and Skaati’s search for Zmaj:
A flash of orange light illuminated the darkness, it flared for a moment and then slowly faded away. “Well,” came Skaati’s voice from the abyss on all sides. “I found some matches. Now for a candle.”
There was more clattering and then Skaati’s voice came again. “Why, hello! Found one.”
A moment later, light came again, the stench of a tallow candle following sharply on its heels. And then Skaati was leaning over Ilio, holding the candle in one hand and reaching out with the other to help him to his feet.
He took her hand and she pulled him up. And it was only once he was standing again that pain flooded him in an icy shower. Ilio cried out, and fell backwards, crashing against several unseen objects before falling against the door. Skaati let out a small shriek as she was pulled back with him.
“Ilio,” she said, gasping. “You’re hurt.” She reached out and touched his neck. “You’ve been burnt.”
How had he missed it? He could feel the searing pain now, how had he missed the moment when the ghoul had touched him and left the burns along his skin? Maybe he’d been so incensed by panic that the pain had seemed inconsequential at the time. He couldn’t even remember the ghoul getting close enough to touch him, but as he thought about it, the more he realised that everything after their stop in the forest was a shadowy blur. He couldn’t remember anything except the sound of his own blood pounding in his ears.
Now, I’m going to die too, he thought. There’s no way that we’ll ever find this supposed man in the forest. Sholo and I are both going to die.
And then something that really should have occurred to him early struck him. He was standing in a cabin, in the middle of a forest. The cabin was surrounded by standing stones and iron bound doors. And now that he could see the insides of the cabin, he could see row upon row of dried herb bouquets lining the roof and hundreds, if not thousands, of small vials neatly arrayed on a shelf to his left. And when Skaati moved the candle, he could see a cold fireplace with…a large black cauldron set in it.
This was unmistakably a witch’s hut.
For context, in this snippet, Ilio has his finger cut with a silver knife (silver and werewolves, you see) in order to take a blood vow:
“Now, you must sign here,” the president said, handing a fountain pen to Ilio and pushing an inkwell toward him. “And spill a drop of your blood.”
With trembling hands, Ilio signed the book, his name the latest in a parade of names that went back centuries. And then he held out his hand to the president, who swiftly nicked the very tip of his ring finger, the finger with the blood that led to the heart, with a silver knife.
The cut stung much more than it should have and Ilio bit back a cry of pain. And then he watched as the drop of blood fell toward the paper, almost as if time had stopped.
The blood hit the book and blossomed red across the page. And Ilio was sure that he didn’t imagine the hissing sound that followed it, and the small puff of smoke rising from the pages of the Law.
And when he looked up, he was certain that the secretary hadn’t missed the scent of burning paper and blood mingled together either.
And last one, Ilio is reading a book in the library:
His blood ran cold and his fingers froze on the paper. Cogs were turning in his mind, running over the events of the last month, trying to make sense of them.
And then he was suddenly sure of something. Somebody, and he had no idea who, knew of the lycanthropy that cursed him. Somebody knew he was a werewolf and they were targeting him. Were they targeting him to craft him into an assassin? What if they were planning on grooming him to become an assassin in order to kill someone near to him? Wasn’t that his greatest fear, killing those he loved?
He stared at the picture of the naked man, morphing into a wolf and throwing itself at the neck of a sleeping figure.
Someone was hunting him, not to kill him, as he’d previously thought, but to turn him into a killer.
9. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)
I’m sure I’ve made so many hilarious typos but I haven’t yet reread it all so I have no idea what they are. Hmmm…what are some interesting tidbits?
-I wanted to write a werewolf character that breaks the current stereotypes (you know the ones, I’m looking at you Twilight) and return to more of the original werewolf mythology, but still making my character sympathetic and human. I think I’ve done that??
-I also included some random tidbits of werewolf mythology, such as werewolves having stumpy tails, which is a mostly forgotten old piece of folklore. My dog also has a stumpy tail, so it was just fun to include.
-And obviously, this wasn’t my planned NaNoWriMo, I just fell in love with it and couldn’t bear the thought of taking a one or two month break from it while I wrote another book.
10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!
I don’t really have a normal day, to be honest. Some of this book was written on a long distance train trip, some was written curled in bed during the coldest summer we’ve had in nine years, some was written in snatches at the table before breakfast and long after dinner. However, there were a few things that were mostly consistent. Usually I would wake up, walk my dogs, eat breakfast, do chores and clean the house in the morning. Then I’d have lunch and work on my Kingdom Pen internship articles in the early afternoon. Finally, I’d take the dogs for another walk, or do some training with them and then I’d sit down somewhere between 3:30 and 5, just depending on how much I had to get done and I’d write. I’d take an hour or so off for dinner, feeding dogs and all those chores and then I’d put on a BBC murder mystery (this round it was Lewis, Father Brown, and Endeavour mainly) and write until about 10 or 10:30. Then I’d go to bed 😀
Also, just because I want people to clap for me, I consumed absolutely no caffeine this NaNoWriMo, which is absolutely wild to think about. I somehow got through three months of writing without a drop of coffee or black tea.
What about you guys? How are your writing projects coming along? What are some interesting tidbits from your writing process? And now for a very important question, do you also write with BBC murder mysteries going in the background?