Accidental Novels

Has this ever happened to you?

Because this happens to me a lot.  I’m not even joking.  I used to say to my mom, “Oh crap, I didn’t mean to kill that character.  Oh well, they’re dead now, I guess.”  And she’d just be like, “But you’re writing it?  Just change it?”  But that’s not how it works!  It really isn’t.  I remember, very clearly, sitting in the lounge of Mallett Hall at UMF with a couple of my college friends.  I had my headphones in, and I was writing a draft of the second Ronan novel (then titled The Gathering, I think?).  I was writing furiously, and I can so remember finishing the chapter, closing my laptop, taking out my headphones, and saying, “Well, Treyan’s dead.  Didn’t realize that was happening today.”  One of my friends, who read my books and listened to me rant in college, was completely flabbergasted.  (Man, what a good word.)  Treyan (man, what a bad name) was supposed to die in the second book, but not until the end, and definitely not in that chapter.  But, apparently, it was supposed to happen in the middle and right then.

That’s not the first or the last time this has happened.  While writing the first draft of the Pen boys, the boys are all talking about something, who knows what, and Jasper happens to mention a family demon, and I was like SAY WHAT NOW?  Turns out, that’s actually a huge plot point, and it took me 180k words and not working on them for a year to figure that out.  But the family demon was never part of the original plot.  It was totally just a slip, something that came out of Jasper’s mouth completely on accident.

During Saints 2, Henry decides that he wants to explore the world.  This I knew.  What I did not know was that literally one paragraph was going to turn into a freaking series of novels.  Julian’s not even in Saints 2 physically.  He’s only mentioned in brief passing.  Corra tells Henry that he should look for Julian for passage on the sea since her aunt knows him and trusts him.  Turns out, Landon also knows him and they’ve been working together for years.  Well, jeez, guys, that’s news to me.  It’s one paragraph!  It’s literally just the Saints describing Julian as basically a wild, flamboyant pirate, and suddenly I was writing an entire series?  Saints at sea was not a planned thing.  And even after it became a planned thing, I thought I was going to be writing about Henry’s adventures.  That’s–about 20% of the series.  The other 75% is Julian and his crew gallivanting around.  (Math?  5% is devoted entirely to Avery.)

Wait, Avery.

"There are no such things as dangerous weapons. There are only dangerous men."Who in the hell said it was okay to give Avery three new best friends?  Like?  What is going on?

Okay, so this was kind of planned.  Use the phrase kind of very loosely.  So far, Avery’s had two chapters in Saints at sea.  In the first chapter, there are these men that show up on her farm and try to threaten her, but Avery’s a freaking badass and shows them a thing or two about messing with women.  They don’t go away?  The next morning, after she’s shot one of them and one of her dogs has maimed another, they’re still there?  And they continue to be there for a few weeks?  Listen, I don’t know.  This wasn’t the plan.  I was going to make them leave after that incident, or only stay until the next morning, but then suddenly, they were still there, and she didn’t give a crap because she’s Avery, and without my permission they had names.  Specifically, the bastards.

I, uh.  They have a novel now?

I swear I didn’t mean to do this.  I just meant to write a little adventure into her part of the story, but then Gordon became the queen’s brother and Roland was definitely a straight up theft from Holland Vosijk (my sweet boy, I miss you) until I reeled it in and Victor just makes me giggle and I think there’s a fourth one that’s not in Saints at sea because he’s definitely back at the capital right now with the queen, but like, he’s totally Gordon’s friend, and oh, it’s not just the bastards, it’s Gordon and the bastards.

Like.

I just searched king arthur aesthetic on Pinterest, and now they have a board.

Let’s back up.  Where does Avery live?  Not telling.  Actually, I just haven’t created a name for the island yet.  But, if this novel actually survives past writing Saints at sea, it will be about Gordon (the queen’s brother) and his bastards (Roland, Victor, and unnamed fourth friend) and their adventures.  We’d get to see Gordon before his sister became queen, why she’s on the throne and not him, how he actually became friends with Roland (this is not an easy friendship built on trust or mutual like), who also happens to be the queen’s favorite magician (I DIDN’T MEAN TO STEAL HOLLAND, LET’S PRETEND HE’S MERLIN INSTEAD), and what this new world in the Saintsverse looks like.  Which is odd saying it’s part of the Saintsverse since I think, for once, there are actively no Saints in it.  This would actually probably take place long before Landon even came to the Lowlands of Obera.  He’d be alive, but still a child, probably, at this point.  The Saints are actually a fairly new concept in this world, only about 6 years old at this point, I think?  7?  Yeah, that sounds right.

LOL JUST KIDDING THE FOURTH ONE IS NOT UNNAMED ANYMORE

How do these things happen?

I would like someone to explain to me why this is allowed.

SOUTHERNCOMFORTOUTLAWSo the fourth one is named Jonah, and apparently this is just a thing now that I’m going to write someday, Gordon and the bastards.  It really is just my excuse to write something that reminds me of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  I’m just slowly going to write all of my favorite myths and tropes into the Saintsverse until I’ve got nothing left on the other side.  Which is fine.  Really.  Everything is just fanfiction of the Bible, right?

I don’t want this blog to sound like I’m ungrateful for my very vast imagination that literally won’t ever quit.  Without it, I don’t know where I’d be.  Probably an astronaut.  I love words and writing so much, and I am so, so, so eternally grateful that Saints came to me.  I’ve always wanted to write this big grand story that encompassed several novels and just took over everything else.  That was what Ronan was always supposed to be.  Right from the beginning, I had all these plans for Ronan.  His story was going to be at least a trilogy, probably more down the line, but I also wanted to write about waaaaay before, when he barely even exists, and what started all of the chaos and the war.  I wanted to write about the different races, too–how the wolves came to be and what the history of their leader was, what the southern islands of the mages looked like, the undying land of Ulandeil (that story in particular is still one that I want to write someday).  But Ronan was supposed to be The Novel, and maybe he still will be someday.  But Saints?  Gods, I love it.  I love it so much.  This verse is where I was always meant to be.

So yes, I wish I could follow my crazy train of thought and be warned in advance when I was going to accidentally create three new characters that were interesting enough that they could hold their own in a sort of prequel novel.  (I was about to say trilogy, WHY was I about to say trilogy?  UGH.)  Realistically, it’s going to be a duology.  The author of the Shades of Magic trilogy, Victoria Schwab, always has very poignant things to say about writing.  A little while ago, she talked about how if you aren’t in love with the characters, you don’t actually care about what’s happening in the story.  I was always a reader who would not put down a book halfway through, and I still kind of am that reader to a point, but I’ve started allowing myself to put down books if they’re just not doing it for me.  And she’s right.  A lot of those times, the characters weren’t grabbing me, so the story was just whatever.  More recently, she said that the way she looked at side characters was that each and every one of them should be able to stand as protagonist in their own novel.  And wow, that’s good advice.  I think this is what’s been happening to me lately, too.  Every time I’ve decided (accidentally or on purpose) to create a new character, I’ve been giving them enough life that they could be by themself if I really wanted them to.  So, when Gordon got a name, when he became more than just a soldier, when he had lines and intentions and depth, the rest came easily.  Gordon and the bastards.  Of course.  It just feels right.  Every time I discover something new, whether it’s an idea or a character or a small plot line, I think, oh, of course.  That was always meant to be there, just like I was always meant to be writing in this verse.

Does that mean I’m only coming up with Saints ideas?  Heck no!  Because accidental novels don’t care what you want to be writing, they just happen whenever they damn well please.

We don't need a camper for an adventure. All I need is a backpack full of food, the road ahead of me and your hand holding mine, our hearts beating to the rhythm of the footsteps :)Say hello to the ones we left behind.

So, we hiked Mt Cardigan on Saturday.  It was a 9.6 mile loop hike up Cardigan, over to Gilman, and down Crane.  (Word of advice: don’t do Gilman and Crane.  The trail is overgrown, and the peaks aren’t worth it.)  Cardigan was absolutely beautiful, and the scrambles up to the summit snuck it right up into my top 10 favorite hikes.  I literally felt like I was rock climbing, and it was so cool.  On the way down Crane, we passed through this wide open field, and there was just an old, rusted, abandoned trailer sitting in the middle of it.  And just like that, new novel!  It took a few days to percolate, but now, it’s pretty much fully-formed.  It follows four college boys who decide to hike the Presidental range in the White Mountains during their spring break because why the heck not.  Their plan is to camp halfway through the 23-mile ridge hike, and while that goes according to plan, the snowstorm that descends does not.  Yes, this is totally inspired by Bad Call by Stephen Wallenfels because damn that was good, but also, that trailer was just a story waiting to happen.  It’s just one book, just one little idea, and who the heck knows when I’ll have time to write it, but I’ve got a plot, my four boys, and interest.

Suffice to say, there is a lot going on in my writing brain right now, and it’s a lot of fun.  It’s a little bit exhausting, but I just can’t say it enough, I’m so grateful that I have this, that I have a passion and that I love what I do.  Writing is why I get up in the morning.  (That, and tea.  And mountains.  AND SPACE YOU GUYS.  Alright, and my cats.)  It’s the thing that brings me the most joy.

So, I guess you could call this an addendum to the second edition of my latest current projects post.  I’m still in the Saintsverse, and likely will be for a while (I’ve got five spin-off ideas right now, it’s obnoxious five but we’ve only heard about four WHAT SECRET NOVEL), but there is so much on the horizon, and I can’t wait to share all of it with you.

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