Funny how a novel first starts to come together — and I’m not talking about craft — more about how the thing assembles itself in the underbelly of your mind, generally over months or years, and then sends up a mental flare that signals to the rest of you, Yes, you may begin.
I’ve always known that I wanted to do another BLOODANGEL novel, especially since the actual story element that kind of triggered the whole book in the first place — the idea of a man and a woman who share a strange psychic connection, who encounter each other in dreams even though they’ve never met, even though they fall on opposite sides of a gathering supernatural war — also ended up being the only element in BLOODANGEL I never got to explore the way I’d intended. (I do know how and why Lucas and Jess are connected this way, but it wasn’t information that belonged in the flow of that particular narrative, especially when so much information had been woven through that narrative already. Sometimes things just work out that way.) I don’t think the book suffers for it — not everything needs to or should be explained. But Poppy Z. Brite made a comment in her own livejournal which struck me — writing a novel is like weaving a tapestry, and some strands can’t help but get dropped along the way. This is one dropped strand I feel compelled to weave into something else, because I like the idea even more, now that I know the two people involved.
Readers have commented to me how I’ve “obviously set things up for a sequel” but that’s actually not how it worked for me. The original scope of the story turned out to be a bit too ambitious for one novel, at least as written by me.Also, it’s the nature of the genre that at least some of the evil slips through unvanquished; that’s the core of what’s so horrifying, after all, the realization that even after all that much battle and blood and effort and sacrifice and hardworn well-earned victory, the monster isn’t dead and always comes back.
I could say I held off on mapping out the next BLOODANGEL story because I didn’t want to waste time and effort on something that no one would want; if my first novel tanked I’d be back at square one and would have to take another, different run at this industry, possibly under a changed name. But the other, more important reason was this: that mental flare fired up from the underbelly, that sense of, Yes now you may begin, because now there’s enough ‘there’ there, just hadn’t happened.
Now it has. Two big pieces of the story just kind of announced themselves within the last week or so. (I make it sound as if they popped up out of nowhere, which wasn’t the case; they were ideas that have been evolving for a while. But when they finally did assume real shapes — it was rather a “Eureka! I know what to do!” kind of moment.)
So I may begin now.
Thing is, I’m still committed to these other two novels. The YA novel I must finish now. I’m in revisions and I can taste the story and if I don’t get it done I will go insane. It’s not simply the story I want to tell; it’s the story I want to tell now. There’s an urgency to it, even though there’s no real explanation for that urgency. The world is not in dire need of a dark-fantasy YA novel by moi.
The other novel — for adults, since I actually do want to write for adults, at least for the most part –is a bit different. It’s growing at a slower pace, partly because it explores some things I’m still working through and learning about in my non-writing life. I’m confident I could tell a good story, but I’m not sure the voice of the novel is coming out authentic. That it would convince. In other words, not only does this novel not demand to be finished now, it might actually be a good thing if I put it aside for a bit, and come back to it a little bit down the road as a more experienced and seasoned writer — and also as a slightly older and more experienced person. At my age I’d be laughably ancient for a dancer or a high-fashion model but as a writer I’m still quite the young ‘un.
Then again, I could simply be trying to justify this temptation to shift over to the new BLOODANGEL story.
In any case, should finish revising YA novel, and soon. Focus on that. Go from there.