I am working on Champagne right now, a character-driven novel based on a short story I wrote. It’s due January 1st and while I loved writing the story, the novel has been proving a bit more problematic. See, I’m a genre writer. Mysteries, horror, fantasy… where things blow up, people get killed, zombies munch on the living, dames wisecrack…y’know, there’s lots of action. I’ve got 6 more genre erotica-romance books lined up after Champagne, all of which will involve all of the above and then some. I’m particularly hyped up about a (wait for it) post-apocalyptic romance (Dave calls it my Cozy Catastrophe series) in which I plan on first destroying most of civilization with a nasty virus and then letting my hero and heroine have all the fun of living off the remnants while outrunning a crazy ex-surfer turned warlord who’s taken over La Jolla.
I mean…c’mon! This is fun stuff we’re talking!
But…that’s two and two-thirds books down the line. First I have to finish Champagne and then tackle a semi sword and sorcery project.
During the drive to and from San Diego, however, my brain and creativity took a giant leap forward into Post Apocalypse land. With Dave as a sounding board and co-enabler (he loves post apocalyptic books and movies as much as I do), I came up with a skeleton outline for the entire book, picked out locations along the road for my characters to hide in and/or run the gauntlet of unpleasant surprises hiding there, had chunks of dialogue and character quirks spring in entirety from my mind like Athena from Zeus’s forehead. I could almost waking dream myself into scenes and watch them unfold like a movie; something I haven’t been able to do since I was in my early teens. It was amazing and inspiring…and just so much friggin’ fun figuring out just what symptoms the nasty disease would manifest in its victims, what horrors I could unleash on the survivors, and how much fun they’d still have shopping for free in abandoned stores. And yes, sex all of this up ’cause this is genre erotica romance, after all!
But first I have to finish Champagne. So that’s what I’ve been working on.
I had a mini-tantrum this afternoon after spending a half hour on one paragraph. “I HATE these characters. They’re boring. No one gets eaten or blown up. They just talk and have sex in picturesque places. Feh!”
I then stomped around the house a bit, had a glass of mineral water and sulked. Then I came back and sat down with my iBook, where my characters in Champagne were waiting for me with sad, hurt expressions. “We’re interesting,” they told me. “Just because we’re not being chased by zombies or being amateur sleuths doesn’t mean we can’t lead rich, full lives that other people will enjoy reading about.” My lead character took me aside for a moment and said, “Why don’t we try THIS…” and whispered a few things in my ear, some ideas of where we could take the story. “I’ll do my best to be entertaining if you remember that we’re from your imagination. We’re your kids too…even if we don’t use crossbows or swordfight.”
And she was right. I originally created these characters because I loved them, even the annoying ones. And it’s not fair to them to shove them to the back of my mind just because a new toy is prettier and shinier (and lets me destroy most of civilization!). So I made a bargain with the inhabitants of Champagne – that I would accord them the same attention and enthusiasm as other, more action packed projects. And in return they would continue to work with me to create the most interesting and entertaining world possible for them to occupy.
And I promise to leave them alone when I destroy the world…