Ace asked me to knocked together 500 words or so on what it’s like to finish a book 12 years or so after I started it. In case you can’t find it on the Ace website, here they are.
One of the greatest joys a writer can have is to get to finish a novel put on hold ten years ago.
Oh, ah, and one of the toughest things a writer can do is finish a book that was put away one quarter done ten years back. “Right. Of course I knew what I was doing with it. Yes, I have it around here . . . somewhere.”
I had 25,000 words, written the way I wrote thirteen years ago, but not how I write today. Oh, and I had not one but TWO outlines for the book. Two DIFFERENT outlines. Oh dear.
Being the organic writer I am, I took off writing and quickly added 15,000 words before I noticed that not only was I writing the story different, but there might be a few things I needed to add from at least one of the outlines.
Okay, maybe both of them had some good ideas.
I went back and started revising the whole thing from page one. And spotted that I really did need that scene at the abandoned space station where Ray and Mary get in a whole lot of trouble.
And then Gramma Trouble arrives at the space port and there are these two adorable street urchins and the story heads off after them.
For those of you who spotted it, yes, Major Barbara is a shout out to George Bernard Shaw.
I have no idea where the tanks came from. They weren’t in either outline but they just kind of drove into the story and, hey, nobody gets in the way of a 75 ton monster. No one.
Unless you’re light infantry and hunting tanks is what you do for fun.
The day Trouble tells the Special State Police they’re out of a job was always going to be in the book. I read about a certain morning just like that when U.S. Marines told some Haitian police/street thugs that they should stay home and it went down just like that.
Then, of course, there was the waltz up Black Mountain. It had been covered as a family tale, almost worn so well as to be poetry, in Kris Longknife – Mutineer. Only now, I had to return it to prose and put back in all the blood and mud, artillery and hail.
And to add complications, Gramma Trouble mentioned in Kris Longknife – Audacious that she still felt her shoulder wound when the weather changed. Did she get that wound on Savannah or later? Well, there’s no time like the present.
So, while Grampa Trouble heads into one meat grinder, I had to find something for Gramma Trouble to get into.
By now the story was rolling along like a freight train and I was having as much fun writing it I know you’ll have reading it.
All in all, it was fascinating to go back to a book I shelved over ten years ago and let the characters come out and play. It was also a challenge to write about Kris Longknife’s great grandparents’ world and fill in the holes that were left from Kris’s stories while making sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
Enjoy the read!