Beautiful Books is a link-up for writers hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In, where you answer ten questions about your WIP — in this case, the novel you’re writing for NaNoWriMo 2016!
I’m very excited to take off my editing hat for a while and write something completely new and fresh for this year’s NaNoWriMo. So, let’s get to the questions!
What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
THIS IDEA CAME OUT OF ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE. I was doing a free-write session a couple months ago, just throwing out random ideas, when suddenly I pictured a witch in the woods unable to stop setting things on fire and everything kinda spiraled out from there.
Describe what your novel is about!
It’s a magical forest fantasy where some vicious plague is taking out villagers, necromancers are readily and gruesomely abusing the subsequent corpses, and our three heroes venture into the forest intending to ask the faeries for magic that’ll cure the unknown illness. Well, kinda. One hero goes into the forest to find the faeries and save everyone. Another is only in the forest because she’s a witch with very poor self-control who has accidentally set everything on fire and is running from the situation. And the other is a thief with uncontrollably sticky fingers whose just stolen some very valuable goblin jewels and, again, is running as fast as he can.
What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
I used this mood board on my What Am I Writing About? post, but I LOVE IT so I’m using it again:
Introduce us to each of your characters!
“On a walk, indeed. Do you see his clothes? He’s a hoodlum, on the run.”
“And what’s wrong with that? I’m a hoodlum, too, technically. On the run.”
James’ chin snapped in her direction. “Are you really?”
“Did I not mention that?”
“Who are you on the run from?”
“Um.” With a flick of her fingers, Ash formed a spark in her palm. She rolled the flame up and down her knuckles with an air of nonchalance. “Do you know that fire, back in the village? That small little thing that had everyone … screaming and running around fetching buckets?”
James slowed to a stop. “The fire that burned down six houses. And killed about a dozen pigs. And irreparably damaged the mill–”
“All right, you’ve made your point, you’ve heard of it–”
“You started that?”
“Is that why you agreed to take me through the forest?” James was shouting now, though he hardly realized it. “You’re on the run. You’re–” He laughed, breathlessly, beside himself. “I’m aiding and abetting a criminal.”
Hopper’s head appeared from over the rise. “Oi, who you calling a criminal?”
“Her,” said James, voice cracking as he pointed at Ash, “I’m calling her a criminal. We’re not even talking about you.”
“Oh. S’what I get for eavesdropping, I guess.” He hopped down the embankment and swaggered up to Ash, “You’ve found yourself on the wrong side of the law, have you, pup?”
“Not on the wrong side, just … catty-corner from the good side. I don’t think anyone suspects me, they have no reason to, so it’s not that I’m running from someone in particular. I just thought it best to vacate the area, post-you know-arson.”
“Ah, see I am running from someone in particular. Got you beat, there.”
“And I’m in this forest actually looking for something that’s going to help a great deal of people, so.” James flapped his arms uselessly. “Perhaps it’s best if our crossed paths un-cross.”
James: quintessential hero, blonde and broad-shouldered, on his way into the forest to find a cure for the plague killing villagers. May or may not have a particular villager he’s trying to save. (Question is, is James on a noble quest to save this person, or is he deliberately running away so he doesn’t have to watch someone he loves die?)
Ash: My scrappy and scattered asexual, pyromantic chocolate chip muffin. Ash has a pure, naïve love for magic that may get her into trouble.
Hopper: a kleptomaniac unable to stop pilfering whatever odds and ends he can get his grubby little hands on. Thinks he’s of little worth, since he’s never been anything more than a thief, but might over the course of the story perform more noble deeds and self-sacrifices than the so-called heroes. He and Ash become fast friends, but it’s Hopper and James who experience a bit of a slow burn such-and-such. * hums nonchalantly *
How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
I’ve done a bit of vague outlining, so I’m going in with a basic idea of where the novel’s going. I have no idea, really, how it’s going to end, so hopefully I’m going to find something along the way? For first drafts and NaNoWriMo, I like to rely on the power of the Twitter wordsprint for inspiration, mostly, and just see where the story goes.
What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I’ve been working on a single fantasy series for a long time, so writing a standalone novel is going to be a lot of fun. I think the dialogue is hilarious and exciting, and since my fantasy series doesn’t have magic or faeries or goblins or necromancers, this is going to be a whole new THING.
List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
- Starts off in a medieval-ish village that relies solely on magic and has an “lol whats that” attitude towards science, currently being ravaged by a plague taking people out right and left. Necromancers are collecting up the discarded bodies and using them for nefarious purposes.
- Takes place mostly in a magical forest with giant spiders, trees that conspire against people, mystical areas that make people confused, or fall asleep, (or, in one incident, experience an intense sexual attraction that lures two characters into a trap, from which my ace witch exasperatedly saves them)
- There’s also a faerie village where everything is TINY and the faeries talk circles around the characters, making them very muddled and irritated and outwitted.
What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
They want to get through the forest to the faeries and find a cure for the plague. Unfortunately, the forest is full of dangers, not to mention the obstacles the characters bring upon themselves–Hopper’s being followed by the goblin he’s stolen from, Ash maybe keeps setting things on fire, and in-fighting keeps getting them distracted and lost. Plus, once they get to the faeries, they might not hold all the answers the characters seek…
How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
I’m not 100% sure about the story’s ending, but I want James to come to grips with the inevitable death of his love, which he’s been desperately trying to avoid and deny; Hopper needs to feel actual guilt for his thievery, whether or not it’s uncontrollable, and do an actual Good and Noble Deed to prove he’s not half the villain people think he is, and Ash will hopefully be able to save the day, while simultaneously coming to grips with some of the side effects of her magical powers and how she’s been using them.
What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
Well, there’s a weird criticism of anti-vaxxers theme running through the outline right now (basically: medieval village ravaged by avoidable plague because they deny the validity of science, which could’ve easily provided a preventative treatment). I think also being truthful with yourself and your own motivations, and taking responsibility for your actions is a bit of a theme. More than anything, I want readers to close the book feeling like they’ve been entertained. If they laugh, leave with a smile, then I’d be incredibly happy.