This is the point at which, in the old days, would lead to two to four weeks of flat out writing all day and half the night, every day–no stopping, eating only what appeared at my side or (occasionally) on the kitchen table, as I made the final dash to the end of the first/rough draft. NewBook would like me to write that way now, but the older body is saying firmly NO WAY DO NOT WANT. Still…the brain is whirling faster and faster, and my fingers and shoulders and neck and sit-upon aren’t keeping up.
But they’re not too far behind, so don’t worry…it’s definitely coming together, narrowing its focus to completing the first-volume-in-group story arc. The larger arc is still rising out of this volume and aiming toward the next. (I’m now past this point when I didn’t know which arc was which. THIS one completes here. THAT one is going to take longer to resolve. Is it the second-volume’s arc? I don’t think so. I think it’s THAT one, the one that hints “this little side issue thing isn’t a little side issue, it’s a big honkin’ screamin’ BIG ISSUE and it’s already been breeding unseen behind the arras.” So to speak in a mishmash of literary asides.
We won’t talk about that. What I will talk about is both the fun and the thinking involved in creating characters that last through years of book-time and more years of the writer’s life. We’ll start with the child Aris Marrakai, whom Paks meets in the second volume, Divided Allegiance when she first arrives in Fin Panir. He was then the youngest son of the Duke of Marrakai and a mischievous, spirited boy. Perhaps the child you don’t want around the house when you’re going through a difficult twin pregnancy, the one that produced Julyan and his twin, who died in infancy, possibly even at birth. Aris shows up again in Oath of Gold when Paks comes to declare Kieri Phelan’s true nature and inheritance–now he’s a page in the palace, a couple of years older. We know his older brother Juris is the kirgan, heir, and Paks interacts briefy with both of them. By the start of the next group of books, it’s made clear that the kirgan is a close friend of the prince, Mikeli, and soon, with the disgrace of the Verrakaien and Mikeli’s concern about Camwyn’s best friend being Verrakai, Aris moves “forward” to see if he can be to Cam what Juris is to Mikeli. And when Camwyn starts going out on the roof and Mikeli demands he always go with someone else, Aris is Mikeli’s choice. Camwyn saved Aris on the roof that time. And Aris saves Camwyn the night the iynisin are after the regalia.
At that time–writing those books–I was not consciously laying the groundwork for this one. Writing the original Paks volumes in the early 80s I had no certainty at all they’d ever be published, or what I’d write in between and how long it would be before I set mental foot to the ground of that world again. But looking back now, re-reading those bits, the deep logic was working its way to something I didn’t know about. This has happened in other areas of that world. It surprises me, and then shows me that the “surprise” was rooted way back.
Something else came up this week on Twitter in one of the science accounts I follow. A picture of a turtle with what appeared to be rather ugly white plastic “things” stuck to it. They weren’t plastic. That was a painted turtle starting to shed its scutes, those sections of shell that if they have a pattern, has a handy “space” between one scute and another, and which peel off individually (apparently!) at least in that species. I already had a thing going in NewBook about Dragon and Dragon’s scales. Was thinking “Could this even be possible?” Snakes shed their skin (we’ve found a more than six foot western coachwhip skin in one piece) and lizards grow and shed theirs and turtles shed the skin on the parts of them that don’t have scutes…dragons certainly aren’t turtles, but they also aren’t snakes or lizards. (And they actually *aren’t*–they’re imaginary critters some of us love to think about.) But the scutes themselves (now that I’ve looked at *other* videos about turtles and shedding) So…there’s now another chapter in my head (not in the book) about the natural history of Dragon and Dragon’s…scales. Not exactly scutes. The “thing” about Dragon’s scales in NewBook will now go in for sure. You don’t have to do all the research before you start. Be aware of things outside the work in progress; I had no idea that a Twitter post about a shedding painted turtle could lead to “Yes, this cool idea could totally work” about something else. One of the best writing tools is infinite curiosity.