… well, sort of.
for those who know me irl, the book updates have been a rollercoaster over the last few years. the tl;dr is that i’ve been co-writing a modern fantasy story about “angels, demons, the end of the world, that sort of thing”. over the years, one book turned to four. the world got bigger and more complex, characters were added, then removed, then added again, and at one point we even shifted the action to a different country. (all stories i’ll tell someday, when they’re more relevant.) what felt like small changes to the setting and worldbuilding meant we had to ditch entire drafts and start over, four times. we’re now going on to the fifth iteration of book one. dear me.
this latest one was a biggie. we were on a good trajectory and staring at the finish line of a first completed draft, the closest we’d ever gotten. then we went to worldcon in dublin
, and attended a lot of panels about writing and story and fantasy worlds, and something began to bother me. i got stuck. my assigned chapters sat unfinished, mocking me, for months. every time i sat down to write, it felt like i was going nowhere. or perhaps, like where i was going was the wrong place entirely.
at this point both me and my co-writer/best pal athena were familiar enough with the signs that the story wasn’t working, that something was bothering us on a level deeper than “this bit of the world needs fleshing out” - my go-to procrastination technique, by the way, is falling back on research and worldbuilding - and that it needed fixing. we had to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and see what we needed to do for it to all make sense.
a couple of weeks ago, athena said “new year, new draft!” and we laughed about it, and then we cried a bit, and then, inevitably, we got to work.
we’ve killed a lot of darlings this time. a setting we’d worked on for years - with countless hours of research and worldbuilding, might i add - gone in favour of something way simpler, that actually ties all the threads together that are coming up in the next books. characters we’d loved writing about will never see the page now; though perhaps you’ll get to meet them someday, in different guises, in different worlds. who knows.
for me, with my obsessive playlists of songs that inform all sorts of different aspects of the story and characters, the most painful thing i’ve had to do is remove swaths of happy lovesongs from my book 1 playlist, because they just don’t fit anymore. every time i took a song out was a shot to the heart. i’m gonna miss them, but it was the right thing to do.
because now, the series is an unfractured whole. where before we had book 1 (the almost boringly happy, yet complex alternate history world) and books 2-3-4 (the apocalypse stuff with the angels and the demons), now we have an entire series that is thematically and tonally coherent, and one book will lead into the next and the changes won’t feel jarring (…we hope).
none of this could’ve happened, really, until now. all the previous drafts needed to be written and then dumped, because each time we added something to the story - a character, a worldbuilding detail, an emotional beat - that gave it flavour, like herbs in a hotpot. a lot of that stuff will show up in the next books, and because we know where the story is going, after eight years of work, we get to plot out this book in a way that will seamlessly take you through a journey of love, betrayal, innocence, kindness, war, despair, death, fragility and power.
i can’t wait, honestly. our current outline finally reads like this song sounds: