It’s officially that time of the year again! I won’t lie, I’m a little nervous about NaNo this year because my writing has been so spotty throughout 2021. I didn’t write at all in September, which is the first time I’ve done that in years, so. Ya girl is feeling a little chaotic right now, and not in a good way.

ICYMI, November is National Novel Writing Month, and the objective is to write 50k. Probably also for the first time ever, I’m not reaching above that goal. 50k may even be a bit of a reach for me right now, but I’d really like to get kicking in my new story idea, particularly because Andrew seems to be taking an extended break from my brain. Let’s get into it!

Tell me about your NaNoWriMo project this year!
Give me a blurb!

I’m working on a new project! I’m so excited given that I’m normally working on an existing project when November rolls around, and not only is this a first draft, it’s brand spanking new. Like, I only thought up the characters and story last month, and I’m hella excited. I’ve teased it a little bit on Twitter here and there.

So, here it is officially: I’ve been wanting to write a haunted house story for forever and a half, and Hill House definitely made that way worse. I’ve been toying with the idea of taking my hiking novel characters and throwing them into a haunted house, but I really love the concept of horror in the wild, so I want to leave them there. I’ve also been making a huge swing toward historical fantasy lately, as we’ve all witnessed, so this feels like a pretty natural progression. Think Haunting of Hill House meets A Treason of Thorns. Sentient houses that have gone a little rogue with lack of care and are thus presenting as haunted, but our MC, Irvine Drummond, is basically Freddie in my brain currently and needs me to pry him away eventually into his own character, but he’s cognizant of the magic in these houses and wants/knows how to restore & protect them.

What’s the genre?

Historical urban fantasy! It’s going to be set mostly in Scotland in the 50s? Yes, 1951, I had to double check. It’s an adult novel, and I’m finally just throwing in the towel and calling it historical–we all know that’s what researcher & librarian was, too–and it’s set close enough to Freddie’s that he’s going to have a cameo (obviously, as seen above), and I am stupidly excited about that. Will Andrew make a cameo, too? It’s very possible!

Describe your MC in three words.

As always, I’ve got more than one because I write in multiple POVs. This time is way more chaotic than usual given that all six of my characters are getting POV chapters, and it’s going to be fantastic.

Irvine Drummond: curious, passionate, organized
Oscar Gonçalves: exasperated, scholarly, quiet
Diana Vale: abrasive, willing, excitable
Rhiannon Thomas: gentle, confident, steady
Ambrose Blythe: drunk, traumatized, disappearing
Blake James: adventure, wild, charming

Oh, we’re going to have so much damn fun.

Without spoilers, describe your villain in three words.

Oh, hm. You know, this is very much a case of the villain is ambiguous until the second book. Like with researcher & librarian, the first book is very much an exploration of the world and the magic, and the villain doesn’t really show its head until toward the end of the first book. I mean, he’ll be there throughout, just as Freddie’s father was, but he’s not really looming over the book in a way that’ll alert you until the end that that’s who the villain is. Well, it’s not as though this will be published anywhere within the next five years or so.

Richard Blythe (Ambrose’s uncle): cunning, wicked, undeterred

What is your goal? (the traditional 50K? 20K? 5K? or… 100K?)

50k! As I said in my intro, I’m a little nervous about actually accomplishing this number as I haven’t been writing a whole ton this year, but I’m really going to try to get my butt in gear and start working on this novel because I miss writing desperately.

Is this your first draft? Second? Third?

First! Like, first first, too. Like, haven’t even started it yet first. Goodness, I haven’t worked on a brand new idea since I first dreamt up Freddie this time last year, this is going to be weird.

Are you starting a new project (or draft),
or continuing an existing one?

Again, a new one! Since about 2017, I’ve been working on ideas that I’m very familiar with. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to write a book about three witches and their demon best friend, and while I didn’t know the smaller–or even bigger, let’s be honest–details about sister witches, it felt very much like something I was already deep in when I started it. The same can be said about Saintsverse & vampire detective. They’re both characters & stories that I’ve been working on for years now, and even though Andrew’s story is brand new as I’m writing it, he’s also the oldest character in my brain. Freddie, last year, was the first time I’d written something actually brand new in its entirety, and Irvine is that all over again. Maybe I’m forever doomed to be writing Andrew for my whole life while spontaneously hurling brand new duologies into the world every year.

What is your favorite time to write in the day?

Oh, who the heck knows. I mean, it’s in the morning, I know that definitively, but part of the reason I’ve had so much difficulty with writing this year is because I now have a job that I love that keeps me busy most of the day, and so, I don’t have the free time that I’ve had for the previous five years. I do, however, often manage to squirrel in some time, and most of the writing I’ve done this year has been at work, so I’m going to try to stick toward something of a morning routine. It may end up shifting more toward the afternoon or just all day, whenever I’ve got the chance for a few sentences here or there, but we’ll see what happens.

Where are you going to write?

At my desk! I’m really going to try not to write at night because it makes me exhausted the next day, and I’m not even going to pretend that I’m going to write on the weekends because that just never happens. When I get the chance at work, I’ll quickly jump into my Google doc and get a paragraph down.

Computer or paper?

Computer, always, though one thing has changed since last year. Now that I’m writing at work again and not working remotely, I’ve officially switched fully over to Google Drive. Two jobs ago, I had an entirely separate folder built for my writing, and I’d email myself anything I’d worked on during the day. Last year, in my previous job, I worked remoted for almost ten months out of the year, so I ended up just writing everything on my laptop. This year, I’m doing everything piecemeal, so it’s just easier to have it all stored on the Drive where it’s easily accessible at any time from anywhere.

NaNoWriMo is a huge commitment!
How are you going to make time to write?

By sheer force of will, honestly. It’s not about finding time, it’s about making time. That might mean sacrificing some mindless Instagram scrolling time, or it’ll mean being hyper-focused on getting all my work done, but if I want to get writing again, I’ve got to force myself to do it. Motivation is never going to work for anyone. You’ve got to be determined to make the time for the things you love.

Are you going to participate in local or online NaNoWriMo events
(e.g. kick-off parties in your city, write-ins, virtual writing sprints…)

Nope! I may have writing parties with my friend in CA, but those are usually few and far between, so we’ll see if that even happens. I don’t really like hanging out with strangers, though, whether in-person or virtually, because I don’t have a lot of spare energy to give out, so I’ll just be writing on my own.

Do you write from beginning to end or skip around?

From the beginning, always. One of my critique partners, Sara, skips around, and I’m always amazed at how she can keep everything straight.

Planner or pantser? (or plantser?)

I am finally planning again! Freddie was truly a test of my sanity because he laughed at me anytime I tried to plan, and I ended up pansting his entire duology, which was aggravating to no end, and I’m so glad that’s over. Not only have I done full character sketches of all six main characters, I outlined the entire first book, and I have a concrete idea of where the second book is going to go, and all of this just feels so much better than the asshole that is Freddie Wright.

What will be your go-to NaNoWriMo snack?

As always, I don’t really eat while I write. It’s often something I’m doing before or after a meal because I generally read during lunch and have dinner with my family, and I don’t do a whole ton of snacking in between.

Choice of caffeine? (or no caffeine?)

Tea! I probably won’t actually be drinking tea while I’m writing because I usually guzzle it on my way to work, though I am trying to change that now that we can drink in the office again, and I’m trying not to write at night, which is the other time I drink tea, so water?

Any rewards for milestone achievements?
For finishing NaNoWriMo?

I usually don’t reward until I’ve finished a draft, and that usually means buying a tarot deck and watching a heck ton of TV. I’ll be hella excited if I finish NaNo this year, though, so I may bake a celebratory pie or something.

Share a tip for other NaNo-ers!

Motivation really isn’t going to get you writing. Motivation is only going to work once, and that’s at the very beginning, and after that, it’s not your motivation that’s lacking, it’s your determination. If you want to write, you have to just do it. You can’t wait for inspiration to strike or the urge to find you. You’ve got to sit down, especially when it’s difficult, and wrench the words out until they start coming on their own.

How are you feeling about NaNoWriMo?
(Excited?! Nervous?! Terrified?!)

Probably terrified, maybe a little exhausted. It’s been a weird year, and Andrew’s novel has been very taxing on me emotionally & creatively, so I’m hopeful that Irvine will help soothe away some of that before I have to tuck back into Andrew, but I’m also terrified that nothing is going to happen, and I’m just going to be stuck in this non-writing limbo until I can finally finish Andrew.

Share an aesthetic for your NaNoWriMo novel!

Oh, let’s! This is going to be fun, I haven’t actually pulled any pictures from the Thornwood Manor Pinterest board yet, nor have I really talked about it, so this’ll be the first even I’m seeing an aesthetic put together for this story.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

Posted by:Mary Drover

she/her | yoga teacher | Tibetan Buddhism | part-time witch | full-time author | astronaut in a previous life

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